Dialogs and Commentary

Hypocrisy in the Church



An email lament on how the modern church has been beguiled to embrace hypocrisy as a technique of spiritual growth.

Believe it or not, we modern Christians have been led to believe that hypocrisy (playacting, faking it) is actually a virtue and way to please God.

Really!

By all accounts, play-acting and faking it are actually a means to salvation and a way to prod God into action. That is right. I have heard it in a hundred churches--in subtle and not so subtle ways!

For example: our praise and worship is hollow and dead, so instead of dealing with the problem... we fake it all the more. "Sing it like you mean it!" is the solution. But is this the kind of worship God wants--contrived and forced and phony?

John 4:23-24 (Wey) "But a time is coming--nay, has already come--when the true worshippers will worship the Father with true spiritual worship; for indeed the Father desires such worshippers. God is Spirit; and those who worship Him must bring Him TRUE spiritual worship."

But you would never guess this from the "praise leadership" in most churches. Hypocrisy is the way to go. Everyone seems to know the phantom verse from 1 Hezekiah 1:22 "God opposes those who wait upon Him, but gives grace to the fakers." Why, to challenge this established spiritual principle would likely get you "the left boot of fellowship" from most churches. <ouch>

But we should not pick on praise as if this were the only area where hypocrisy has gone from vice to virtue. What about our dead sermons: ever more hyped; and our dead works: ever more in the flesh? Hypocrisy, here too, comes to the rescue. God, surely, will see our depravity and be embarrassed at how hard we are trying to make Him look good by our do-good intentions and determined playacting... and endorse us with His presence, right?

We call this the "fake it till you make it" approach. And who is immune?

I have led Bible studies where I had nothing to teach, and had nothing of the Spirit's presence and power, and yet trudged along in my own strength. How is this different than fake praise or worship, or a fake "healing" or prophecy, or phony and hollow works of service, or any other gifting where we are just going through the motions?

Let's face it; we all have a hypocritical instinct that must be openly addressed or it will "leaven the whole batch of dough".

Who has bewitched us into thinking that God likes or endorses playacting? Has our Lord been shy in expressing His opinion on this?

Amos 5:21-24 (NIV) "I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!"

Isa 1:14-15 (GLT) My soul hates your new moons and your appointed feasts. They are a burden to Me. I am weary of bearing them. And when you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you. Yea, when you multiply prayer, I will not hear...

Imagine the scandal of such verses! God tells us that He doesn't like it when people do the very thing that He has commanded? Exactly. Not only does He "not like it", He hates it! He hates it when people fake it. He hates it when people attempt to serve him with self-effort. He hates guile and duplicity. He hates it when people have the audacity to think that they can fool Him! For we may be able to fool men--even ourselves--of our bogus piety and sincerity, but are we really so arrogant to think that we can fool God?

1 Sam 16:7 (NIV) ... "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

The sacrifice of Cain (our own fruit) is still an attractive option for the flesh. But the only thing God will ultimately accept--really--is something sourced by Him in the first place. "All things Christ", and it must be Christ in us or our "sacrifice" (even of praise) will make God sick. If He is really the source of our action by the power of new life within us, then, and only then, will we do works "acceptable to the Father".

1 Pet 4:11 (GLT) If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever...

Can we be so dedicated to truth and the reality of "Christ in us" (or not) that we could say to those who look up to us, "I have nothing to say or sing or offer today. Either we need to hit our knees and pray for spiritual reality in me or assume God has given someone else a message. But I, for the sake of the 'form of things' or human convention or pride, will not fake it!"

Lord, raise up such leaders among us!

Luke 12:1 (NAS) ... "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

The carnal man reasons: "If we were honest about ourselves and the seasons we go through, then God's glory might somehow be damaged." Yet Paul was not afraid to point out his depravity. In fact, he believed that if he "boasted in his weaknesses" then "Christ's POWER would be made more perfect" (2 Cor 12:9). His view was to "advertise" what a chump he was on any and every occasion, and let God take care of his reputation "in Christ".

Since when has God endorsed phoniness? Does our God not expect us to wait upon Him rather than playact if He is not present? Since when does He like ritual and "going though the motions"? Does He not require lamentation when we are overtaken by sin? Why then a whole book on this spiritual response from His people? Are we exempted from the need to weep and lament? Whence the whitewash? What are our churches encouraging--lamentation or hypocrisy?

How did we ever get so spiritually dull that we can hear another legalistic sermon encouraging us to "fake it" all the more--in our own energies--and feel "blessed" by it? Have we become legalists as well? For the sin of hypocrisy is like an infecting yeast that will ruin the whole batch of dough, if allowed from the outside in. But salvation comes from the inside out.

Let's get real. Let's get real grace from God to "will and do His good purpose" by the power of the "Christ in us" by the Holy Spirit. Let us forsake the superficial teachings of men, and turn to the wisdom of God.

Ps 51:6 (NIV) Surely you desire truth in the inner parts...

Isa 58:1-3 (NIV) "Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins. For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. 'Why have we fasted,' they say, 'and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?'..."

Mat 23:23-28 (NIV) "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices--mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law--justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness."

1 Pet 2:1 (NIV) Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.


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