Why So Many Hypocrites?
Ezekiel 18:24, 25
Today we continue looking at another question that is on the mind of many people these days. Why are there so many hypocrites in the church, anyway? Why go to church, when all there is is hypocrisy? So let’s look at this question.
Famous Hypocrites . . . a short list
The lines have fallen
to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.
I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the LORD always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.
Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold. So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”
In the morning it happened that David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it by the hand of Uriah. And he wrote in the letter, saying, “Set Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retreat from him, that he may be struck down and die.” So it was, while Joab besieged the city, that he assigned Uriah to a place where he knew there were valiant men. Then the men of the city came out and fought with Joab. And some of the people of the servants of David fell; and Uriah the Hittite died also. 2 Samuel 11:2, 3, 14-17
What’s with this? Is this the same guy? Is the guy that said those nice things the same dude that committed both adultery and murder? How can that be? It just isn’t right! It’s just dreadfully wrong! Why, he’s a blooming hypocrite, that’s what he is!
Hey, the Bible is a record book—it’s a historical narrative! It records the good and the bad, the blessings of following God’s will, and the curses that result from violating His will. It’s all there…and this guy—this King David—why, he’s just a blooming hypocrite. Says one thing and does another. Portrays himself as a man of faith and principle, and then just like that he commits both adultery and cold-blooded murder, all in one week!
The Unknown Prophet
And behold, a man of
God went from
4 So it came to pass when King Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, who cried out against the altar in
So the man of God entreated the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored to him, and became as before. 1 Kings 13:1-7
So it was, after he had eaten bread and after he had drunk, that he saddled the donkey for him, the prophet whom he had brought back. 24 When he was gone, a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his corpse was thrown on the road, and the donkey stood by it. The lion also stood by the corpse. 25 And there, men passed by and saw the corpse thrown on the road, and the lion standing by the corpse. Then they went and told it in the city where the old prophet dwelt.
1 Kings 13:23-25
So, what’s with this guy? We don’t even know his name. He starts out well, but ends terribly. Because of his word, the king’s hand becomes paralyzed, and then it’s healed again! Because of his word, the altar was split in half! This prophet quickly established that he meant business!
His whole message is that the people are sinning against God, and they need to return to Him. They need to do what he says. God needs to be the true Leader of their lives. God gave him specific instructions: don’t go to anyone’s house, don’t eat at anyone’s house, get out of there quickly.
But the unknown prophet rationalized. He was invited to go to someone’s house and eat, so he could be refreshed for his journey. It was a nice offer. But to do so would violate God’s Word to him. So the prophet goes to this man’s house and he eats and drinks. When he leaves, he gets killed by a lion on the way. Then the lion and the donkey just stand there near the dead prophet all day, so everyone can see clearly what happened.
The Bible indicates that even this prophet’s death was a message to the people, not to disregard what the Lord says. And yet that’s what we do all the time in our lives. We don’t take God seriously. We compromise. We rationalize. We go the easy route. We give in. We go the path of least resistance. The path of least resistance is the path of death. There’s a dead prophet lying in the road to remind us that God is no respecter of persons, and that He sees the choices we make.
This unknown prophet, as good and noble as he may have been, was not consistent in his love for the Lord. He was a blooming hypocrite! Telling people to stop doing something, then doing it himself. Takes a lot of nerve.
And then there’s Samson.
So Samson went down to
Timnah with his father and mother, and came to the vineyards of Timnah.
Now to his surprise, a young lion came roaring against him. 6 And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. Judges 14:5, 6
Then she lulled him to
sleep on her knees, and called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks
of his head. Then she began to torment him,[a] and his strength left him. 20 And she said, “The Philistines are
upon you, Samson!” So he awoke from his sleep, and said, “I will go out as
before, at other times, and shake myself free!” But he did not know that the
LORD had departed from him.
21 Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to
Samson—the pride of
See him there—eyes gauged out, chained to a mill wheel, pushing it round and round all day long. His strength gone. It’s picture of terrible results of hypocrisy.
Lots of Reasons Not to Like Hypocrites
There are lots of reasons not to like hypocrites:
They can’t be trusted
They are confusing
They are a bad example to the rest of us decent folks
They bring trouble on the church
They often pull us into their sin
They’re not nice
They poison the atmosphere, so we can’t worship in peace
Yep, lots a reasons not to like them. And why should we? Pesky critters anyway.
Even Jeremiah was fed up with hypocrites. They never did what he said, but then they would ask him to pray to God and ask Him what they should do!
For you were hypocrites in your hearts when you sent me to the LORD your God, saying, ‘Pray for us to the LORD our God, and according to all that the LORD your God says, so declare to us and we will do it.’ Jermiah 42:20
Hypocrites Live in Fear
The Bible says, by the way, that hypocrites live in fear. It’s not a peaceful life that they live:
The sinners in
Can’t Get Away From Hypocrites
One thing is for sure—we can’t get away from hypocrites—people who say one thing and do another—they’re everywhere! They are at the grocery store, they are at church, they are at school, they might even be a teacher you have, they walk around town, they drive to the same places we drive. Nope. Can’t get away from them.
Jesus couldn’t either. Everywhere He went He seemed to meet up with hypocrites. On one such occasion, found in Matthew 23:
“Woe to you, scribes
and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and
have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and
faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat
and swallow a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.[f] 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:23-28
These Pharisees were
taking advantage of widow ladies—imagine!
It’s the same thing that goes on today—these people that telephone
senior citizens and put a bunch of fear in them, and get them to give them their
personal information, their credit card number, etc. People get milked all the time in fraudulent
schemes. Well, that’s what these
“religious” Pharisees were doing. The
would gain the confidence of these poor widow ladies, then get them to donate
their money and their property to the
Then they would stand on the corners of the streets in their flowing robes, and pray long prayers so everybody could see how pious they were. They were nothing but a bunch of extortioners—in the church, no less. The nerve.
You know Jesus loved these guys, don’t ya? Sure. He was able to get through to several of them. So there’s hope.
What’s Important Here
When we look at all the hypocrites that have gone before us, and all the ones that are around us, it’s easy to get sick to one’s stomach. It’s easy to say, “Well, phooey with these people, anyway! Who needs ‘em!”
But not so fast.
What’s important here: not so much what they’ve done or how they messed up, but rather 1. how God was able to bless in spite of the sin (when they came to their senses), and 2. what we can learn from their mistakes.
So, Why So Many Hypocrites, Anyway?
Well, it’s like this. Hypocrisy is part of the fallen, carnal nature that we all are born with. And unless we are daily born again with Jesus Christ, and love Him and serve Him, and keep His Word in our minds, we will naturally flow to the lowest point of our nature—like water on your windshield flows down to the lowest point—unless your driving fast, then the wind makes it flow in all directions, and it gets into that little crack you left in your side window to let fresh air in, and you end up getting water on you.
But anyway, if left to ourselves, we naturally flow to our lowest nature. It’s as simple as that. And because there are SO MANY people that are left to themselves, and don’t surrender to Jesus Christ, it follows that there lots of hypocrites around, even in the church.
Let’s back up . . . Let’s look at how easy it is to become a hypocrite . . .
How Easy It Is to Become a Hypocrite
Do I have any pleasure
at all that the wicked should die?” says the Lord GOD, “and not that he
should turn from his ways and live?
24 “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die. Ezekiel 18:23, 24
First of all, notice that God’s basic stance towards us is one of peace. That’s a good thing. He doesn’t apparently enjoy tossing folks into the lake of fire. He would much rather have us turn from our selfish, egotistical, lustful, gluttonous ways, and live.
Notice too that it’s not enough to live right for a while, and then think that this period of goodness will cover a period of badness, just do what you want. It doesn’t work that way. When we give the Lord our hearts, and we ask Him to be our Leader, He takes us seriously. He leads us day by day, and we get stronger and stronger. But if we let go of Him, and don’t spend time reading His Word and talking to Him, we will end up turning from our turning. Does that make sense? We will be lost, plain and simple.
How easy is it to become a hypocrite?
Just tell someone that you are health conscious, then go buy a chocolate shake.
Just tell your friend that you follow Jesus, then yell and cuss at the driver that just cut you off.
Just agree to your baptismal vows, then live as if you don’t believe them.
Just tell your friend that you observe the Sabbath, then rush off to work on the Sabbath.
Just compromise, rationalize, and cave in.
It’s easy to become a hypocrite, and to remain one indefinitely. Very easy. Because if left to ourselves, we flow to the lowest point of our nature.
For Church Folks
For those who are in the church I would say that we must be very careful that we try to live lives that are consistent with what we believe, with what we say we believe. Because many people form their conclusions about the church and about God based on what they see in God’s adherents—church goers.
So there is a big responsibility resting on us. People are watching to see if what we believe is making a difference in our lives. Do we take our own teachings and beliefs seriously? That’s what they are watching for.
For Non-Church Folks
For those of you who are not in the church, and those of you who don’t claim to be a Christian, I will say this. You have every right to call things the way you see them. Call out the hypocrisy when you notice it. When it’s glaring. Call it out, and bring it to our attention.
But don’t let the
hypocrisy keep you away from God, and His church. Realize that there is a long history of
hypocrisy in the
And realize that you too have a responsibility to take every opportunity to get close to God, and learn of God. Learn from the weaknesses of others, and try not to copy bad behavior. Don’t let the inconsistencies keep you away from God or His church.
Look beyond all of that. Look deeper. Look for the core values and principles that are there. These can enhance your life, because they are very old, and very wise.
Look for a real God to meet you where you are at. Look for Him to come near to you, accept you where you are, teach you as you are willing to be taught, and empower you as you are willing to be empowered. Look for God, because He is there.