By Ron Halbrook
For the Truth’s sake, we must learn to avoid hypocrisy in all forms. God condemns it repeatedly. Preachers and teachers of the Word can be as guilty as anyone else. Jesus told the Jews, “All therefore whatsoever (the Pharisees) bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matt. 23:3). Paul asked, “Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?” (Rom. 2:21) When Jesus said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged,” he referred to hypocritical judgment (Matt. 7:1-5). We must “judge righteous judgment,” not condemning what we allow or allowing what we condemn for the sake of man’s favor (Jn. 7:24).
Hypocrisy comes in many forms. (1) Men often try to appear “better” than they are. Men “join the church” of their choice, because the community “expects” it, without ever examining the Bible to see what God’s choice is! (Matt. 7:15-27). Meeting community standards in religion, while disobeying God’s Word, is hypocrisy. Community approval is _the only “reward” for such religion, for God rejects it (Matt. 6:lff).
(2) Men often try to appear “worse” than they are. Peter tried to blend in with unbelievers, by denying the Lord. When the Lord “looked upon Peter,” he “went out, and wept bitterly” (Lk.11:54ff). Some Christians today need that same repentance: “let your laughter be turned into mourning” (Jas. 4:9). To laugh with our friends at immoral jokes, to have a “social” drink with them, to smoke with them, and to use their cursing, is to destroy our influence by hypocrisy! God’s children are to be “without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life” (Phil. 2:15f).
(3) Men often claim sincerity in religion, but refuse discussion, examination, and debate. A child who works math problems but refuses to have his work discussed or examined, is NOT a sincere student. Jesus freely debated and discussed his doctrine in public, as did his Apostles. There was a time when Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and others would submit their doctrine to public debate “for the truth’s sake.” Now they generally refuse to debate such things as sprinkling for baptism, the purpose of Bible baptism, their creeds, instrumental music in worship, human organizations, etc.
(4) The sacramental system encourages hypocrisy. Some men teach that God “infuses grace into the soul” of one who partakes of the “sacraments” (certain religious acts). Unwittingly, this encourages people to think they can sin to their heart’s desire and then “make it all right” by use of the “sacrament.” Human sacraments are worthless to begin with, and only obedience “from the heart” to God’s Word cleanses from sin (Rom. 6). (5) Modernism IS hypocrisy personified. Modernists claim to honor Christ while saying he was “wrong” on certain things, and to honor the Bible as God’s Word while saying it contains contradictions and falsehoods (cf Heb. 4:15; 2 Tim. 2:16f). This is bald-faced religious hypocrisy, as practiced by Judas when he gave Christ the kiss, of death. Let us examine ourselves, that faith may work by love (Gal. 5:6).
Truth Magazine XXI: 21, pp. 332-333
May 26, 1977