Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why Christians are Hypocrites

No one likes a hypocrite—someone who says one thing and does another. Among all hypocrites, the Christian hypocrite is perhaps most unlikable and most visible. Shouldn't those named as followers of Jesus Christ be, instead, most able to follow through on the beliefs they uphold?

No matter who you are, you have certainly been hurt or offended by a "Christian hypocrite." The blame belongs entirely to us, and not to Jesus. At least three reasons explain the problem.

1. The person claiming to follow Jesus Christ isn't a true Christian

There are two kinds of false Christians: those who are deceptive, and those who are ignorant.

"Beware of false prophets [preachers], who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruit."
~ Jesus, Matthew 7:15-16 (NKJV)

The person is downright dangerous who uses God's name or words as leverage to advance personal agenda. Although cult leaders fall into this category, so do many other appealing religious personalities, whose message never actually exalts Jesus Christ as Lord and God.

Jesus taught that the way to discern between true and false teachers is to examine the fruit of their lives. Whatever their good deeds, however successful or persuasive, false teachers fail to produce the spiritual fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) of thankful joy, peace amid affliction or conflict, patience (with trying people and situations), active kindness, goodness in response to evil, faith to confront uncertainty, humble gentleness, self-control (rather than gratification of unhealthy desires), and, above all, selfless love.

Like the devil himself, false preachers are agents of darkness who masquerade as ministers of light (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Such people, and their message, are to be rejected.

Other false Christians, however, are trying to be right. But they are going about it the wrong way, according to their own definition of right and wrong, in ignorance of God's definitions.

For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.
~ Romans 10:3 (NKJV)

Regrettably, true Christians can also display ignorance—a second reason for hypocrisy.

2. Christians are ignorant

Please note that doesn't say "some" Christians.

Every single Christian has knowledge of some incredible truths about Jesus Christ, which make possible the faith that creates an entirely new person. Those incredible truths get us Christians pretty excited. In fact, we can sometimes latch onto one truth at the expense of other truths, or even at the expense of the most important truths.

Without balance, any truth can become error.

Example: God is love. Love does good. God's love coexists with His allowance of suffering. Without understanding both truths, Christians either expect not to suffer, or see suffering as occasion to question God's love and goodness. A balanced knowledge of God's love sees that He allows pain for our benefit. (Hebrews 12:6-11; Romans 8:18,28; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18)

No matter how much truth about God that we gain, we Christians remain ignorant of far more. And if we're also ignorant of our ignorance, we can start to think that the truth we do have makes us wise enough …

For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion …
~ Romans 11:25 (NKJV)

… which is a third and probably most significant reason that Christians display hypocrisy.

3. Christians are incomplete

Human nature does things our own way. A Christian accepts God's ways as best. God puts in our hearts not only this understanding, but the desire and ability to do things His way.

Yes, I know that nothing good lives in me—I mean nothing good lives in the part of me that is earthly and sinful. I want to do the things that are good, but I do not do them. I do not do the good things I want to do, but I do the bad things I do not want to do.
~ Romans 7:18-19 (NCV)

Though Christians want to do things God's way, we continue to battle against the sin that goes to the core of our hearts. The more Christians grow in knowledge and understanding and faith, the more complete we become in a new, spiritual nature—the more we become like Christ Himself.

This will continue until we are united by our faith and by our understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him.
~ Ephesians 4:13 (CEV)

When Christians think we've already become what we're supposed to be, we cannot deny the label of hypocrite. But when we transparently admit our ignorance and imperfection, our failings and sin; when we acknowledge that we simply aspire to be like Jesus Christ; when we put the emphasis on Him rather than ourselves (or—God forbid!—on the sin of others), then we grow less and less like hypocrites.

I rely upon this: that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
~ Philippians 1:6

No matter who you are, please have patience with Christians, who are still becoming mature in producing that spiritual fruit mentioned above. And please, beware of listening to the false Christians, who have no such fruit.

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Copyright 2013, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.


  1. Agree with you. We shouldn't pretend but be honest... with God, with ourselves, with others. Admit our failure, admit our imperfection. But strive to live according God's standards.
    The most of ignorant Christians are to be labeled as Churchians 'cause real Christians want to discover truth 'cause only truth make us free. Churchians like their church doctrines more than God's truth.

    1. Churchians, Nataša, are often those false Christians who think there is a way to be good without actually submitting to God. Religion is no substitute for truth—never a substitute for Jesus! Right you are, Jesus and truth are what make us free.

  2. Your summary is really good. Too often, Christian are lumped in with others.

    The way you break down the hypocrite is spot on. Some are just ignorant because of bad or incomplete teaching. They don't know the right way to live.

    Others are more blatant about it. They know the right thing to do and just don't do it.

    And your third summation is equally right. We just don't have it all together yet.

    A really great piece.

    1. Thanks for the affirmation, David. Ironically, the more we try to protect ourselves and our reputation, the more we are hypocrites. The less emphasis we put on ourselves, while pointing directly to Jesus, the more like Him we become.

      As for not having it all together yet, that's one more reason to be patient with ourselves, just as God is. : )

  3. Totally agree, bless you sis.

    1. Denise, I return the blessing to you and ask God to MULTIPLY it to you!

  4. Yeah, we are hypocrites. There is, it seems, no excuse though for it. He gives us everything we need to Live and Love and Grow... yet we reject His power and richness in our lives and go our own way... simply amazing how stubborn we can be. I have seen (in my own life and others too) that He literally has to almost kill us before we yield to His wonderfulness.

    1. Makala, an explanation is not always an excuse. BUT, to the extent that we are simply honest about the situation—that we acknowledge ourselves as a work in progress, incomplete in maturity and knowledge—I do think we are blameless. When we are lazy, apathetic, willful … yes, we are then without excuse.

  5. I think another thing that usually sets a false Christian apart from a sincere one is their lack of desire to be held accountable by other Christians. We should be willing to listen and carefully weigh any confrontation and/or correction brought on by any other true Christian, and then make changes as the Holy Spirit leads. Maybe this falls into your "ignorant Christian" category, or perhaps they are just of a hard heart.

    I guess I Corinthians 5:11 or Matthew 18:15-17 would have to be sufficient answers if we refuse accountability. Sorry if I seem to have gotten off subject here, but I think this is very closely related.

    Thanks for the wonderful post!

    1. Mary, your comment about accountability has given me a few days of pause. (And I don't consider it the least bit off-topic.)

      I certainly agree that the mature Christian—and certainly someone allowed to be a Christian preacher!—readily accepts accountability from another mature Christian. I feel a little less certain about whether the "lack of desire to be held accountable" marks a false Christian—or a less mature one. My experience has been that the willingness (let alone desire) to be accountable is given more lip service than heart submission in the church at large.

      In my own life, I have a desire to live in a manner pleasing to God. I desire accountability to the Holy Spirit. I think I'm generally accountable to Christians whom I trust, especially when their words are confirmed by the Holy Spirit.

      I also know that I can STILL struggle with sin and a reluctant heart toward God where the way is difficult. I think I've also erred at times when accepting direction from other Christians who are more legal-minded than spiritually-minded, without necessarily discerning the difference, so I've become a little more cautious about those who "impose" accountability. On a bad day, I probably blow them off fairly readily. On a good day, I look past the messenger to the message, and ask the Holy Spirit to help me weigh its application.

      All that said, even a "baby" Christian should show the willingness to be accountable to God.

    2. P.S. Mary, I really appreciate wrestling with difficult comments like this one! Thanks for making me think!

  6. I'm not sure I would equate being a false christian with being an immature christian. We never outgrow our need for grace at each stage of our journey. Perhaps I am misreading what you are saying.

    1. Susan, I most certainly do NOT equate a false Christian with an immature Christian. The latter is sometimes called a "baby Christian." The former is no Christian at all. I'm so sorry if that wasn't clear. I agree that every single one of us is continuing to mature in grace. The more "mature" (LOL) I become as a Christian, the more I realize how much I need to grow—how much grace I need from God, every moment of my life.


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