Hypocrisy Doesn't Nullify Christ's Claims
How many times have you heard the old excuse from non-believers that the reason that they don't want to come to Christ is that there are so many hypocrites in the church? They agree with Gandhi who said:
"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
Sometimes hypocrisy is also the reason a professing Christian gives for not coming to church as well. What these people don't realize, or don't want to realize is that anything in life that is genuine, and is worth anything, will inspire counterfeits. For example, counterfeit money is made by people because real money is so valuable. But I won't stop using the real thing because there is fake money out there. The fake money, or the fake people, don't take anything away from the real thing. And Jesus is the Real Thing!
I. Four Types of People in the Church
Someone has rightly observed that: "The Church is not a museum for saints but a hospital for sinners." Those who know Jesus Christ as their Savior know that they are not perfect. They need the grace of God in their lives every day. With that being said, every church that you enter is filled with at least four types of people. Here is the list:
1. Those Who Aren't Christians
The fact is that just because a person goes to church doesn't make him a Christian. Someone is no more a Christian because he or she goes to church than a person being in a garage makes him a car. And no matter what church you go to, there will be those who haven't accepted Jesus Christ through faith. As we stated, part of the reason the local church exists is as a hospital for lost souls. So it is a good thing to have these types of people in the church so that they might be introduced to Jesus Christ.
And when people become Christians, this leads us to the next category of individuals.
2. Those Who Are Babes in Christ
Another type of person in the church are those who are babes in Christ. As people come into the church that are new to the faith, they haven't yet grown or matured. The Bible teaches that when a person becomes a Christian they are born again (John 3). They are born into the family of God. And the Spirit of God enters their life and begins to conform them to the image of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:14 says: "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God." Indeed, if you don't have the Spirit dwelling in you, you aren't a son of God at all (Romans 8:9).
The Christian life is a process that ends when Jesus Christ returns, we receive new eternal bodies, and we are totally conformed to Christ's image. Sometimes, the hypocrisy that is in the church is caused by the babes who haven't yet grown up.
3. Those Who are Carnal Christians
Though it is not normal, there is another category of people. Sometimes there are those who don't grow as they should. They don't allow the Spirit to work in their lives, and they remain babes far too long. Paul calls the Corinthian Christians Carnal and babes in Christ. He says:
"And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able, for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?" (I Corinthians 3:1-3).
In Corinth there were a lot of problems, including division among the people and there was a problem that they were refusing to deal with. A man was having sexual relations with his father's wife. (I Corinthians 5) Paul told the Corinthians that they should put the man out of the church if he refused to repent. The Corinthians had a twisted view of grace that caused them to be proud of their tolerance of this man's sin. Paul told them that they needed to take this seriously, both for the man's own sake ( 4,5), as well as for the sake of the church in which he was setting a bad example.
Sometimes, we see the hypocrisy in the Church because of carnal Christians like this. We cannot allow it to go on. Paul compares the influence of the carnal Christian to leaven in a loaf of bread. He says that:
"Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened" (I Corinthians 5:6).
Though it may not have influenced older and more mature Christians to follow suit, it could have influenced less mature Christians to follow this man in his sin. Thus the whole church could have been destroyed.
4. Those Who are Mature, Yet Not Perfect
As Christians grow in their relationship with the Lord they mature and demonstrate, more and more, the Fruit of the Spirit, including love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:23).
However, Scripture indicates also that as long as we are in these earthly bodies, there is a struggle that is going on. The believer actually has two natures which war against one another. Paul, in Romans 7, talks about this battle that he struggled with (13-25).
Paul, in Galatians 5:16,17 says something about this as well:
"I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh (i.e. old nature). For the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish."
There is an old bumper sticker that I used to see on cars: "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." This is one way of looking at the struggle which we continually have with the flesh. Mature Christians can still sin. John says:
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:8,9).
Sin doesn't separate us from God, once we're saved, but it grieves the Holy Spirit who is living in us (Ephesians 4:30). It also quenches His activity in our lives (I Thessalonians 5:19). When we confess and forsake the sin, it restores the relationship and gets us back on the path of growth toward full maturity.
II. Christianity Stands and Falls on the Person of Christ
The bottom line is that Christianity stands and falls on the person of Jesus Christ. Those that knew Him while on this earth could find no fault with Him, including those who wanted to have Him killed.
And by the way, Jesus Himself hated hypocrisy, as well. He gave His harshest words against the Pharisees who were the embodiment of hypocrisy (Matthew 23:13-36).
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, the Savior of the world. However, that claim would have been worthless if He was still in the grave. But He did indeed rise from the grave. The resurrected Lord was witnessed by literally hundreds of people (I Corinthians 15:1-11). And that same Lord says that He will return some day as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. By looking to Jesus, if you're honest with yourself, it is hard to deny the truth of Christianity. He is all that He claimed to be.
Our Savior Jesus Christ is not a hypocrite. He is the Lord of glory, who offers you salvation today by faith in His name. Don't miss out on a wonderful and eternal relationship with Him because of His followers. We are not yet what we are going to be when He returns. But I thank God that we aren't what we were either. We are works in progress. And we'll one day be complete. Then God will display us as masterpieces of His grace. Christian hypocrisy will be no more. For we will be as holy and righteous as He.
© 2012 Jeff Shirley