Christian Hypocrisy: Are You in Danger?

Walk the talk that honors Jesus and avoid the trap of hypocrisy

Christian Hypocrisy
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Christian hypocrisy probably drives more people away from the faith than any other sin. Unbelievers look at religious phonies and think there must not be anything to Jesus Christ if his followers are that insincere.

Christianity is about truth, but if its representatives do not practice what they preach, its power to change lives is called into question. Christians should be different from the world. In fact, the word holy means "set apart." When believers behave in dishonorable ways, the accusation of Christian hypocrisy is well-deserved.

Jesus Called Out Religious Hypocrites

During his earthly ministry, Jesus Christ leveled his harshest rebukes to religious phonies. In ancient Israel, they were the Pharisees, a Jewish party known for their hundreds of laws and rules but their personal hardness of heart.

Jesus called them hypocrites, a Greek word meaning "stage actor" or "pretender." They were great at obeying the law but had no love for the people they influenced. In Matthew 23, he blasted them for their lack of authenticity.

Today, many televangelists and big-name Christian leaders give Christianity a bad name. They talk about the humbleness of Jesus while they live in mansions and fly around in private jets. They crave adulation, alienating unbelievers with their pride and greed. When Christian leaders fall, they fall hard.

But most Christians will never have a public platform or commit the kind of offenses that grab national headlines. Instead, we will be tempted to misbehave in other ways.

People Are Watching Our Lives

In the workplace and in social circles, people are watching. If your coworkers and friends know you are a Christian, they will compare your conduct to what they know about Christianity. They will be quick to judge if you fall short.

Lying is widespread in business. Whether it is making claims the company cannot deliver on or misleading the boss to cover mistakes, many workers think such behavior is no big deal. Christians, however, are held to a higher standard.

Whether we like it or not, we represent the Church and, in turn, Jesus Christ. That is a huge responsibility; one many Christians would like to dodge. It demands that our actions be above reproach. It forces us to make a choice: the world's way or God's way.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2, ESV)

We cannot follow God's ways unless we know and live out the Scriptures. The Bible is the Christian's handbook for right living, and while we do not have to memorize it cover to cover, we should be familiar enough with it to know what God expects of us.

Avoiding Christian hypocrisy is too big a job to handle on our own. Humans have a sinful nature, and the temptations are too hard. Over and over the Bible tells us we can live the Christian life only through the power of Christ within us.

A Judgmental Attitude Hurts the Faith

Some Christians are quick to judge others and condemn their sins. Of course, unbelievers would like Christians to ignore sin altogether and tolerate every kind of immoral behavior.

In today's society, tolerance is politically correct. Holding others to God's standards is not. The problem is that without Christ's righteousness, none of us could stand before God. Christians tend to forget their own unworthiness when they assume a "holier than thou" attitude.

While Christians should not be intimidated into silence, neither should we jump at the chance to rebuke every unbeliever. No one was ever lectured into joining the family of God.

There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? (James 4:12, ESV)

Ultimately, Christ is everyone's judge, not us. We walk a fine line between letting him do his job and standing up for what is right. God has not called us to shame people into repentance. He has called us to love people, spread the gospel, and offer his plan of salvation.      

Weapons Against Christian Hypocrisy

God has two goals for us. The first is our salvation, and the second is to conform us to the image of his Son. When we surrender to God and ask him to form our character, the Holy Spirit within us becomes a built-in warning system. He alerts us before we make a bad decision.

The Bible is filled with people who made bad decisions because they followed their own selfishness instead of God's will for them. God forgave them, but they had to live with the consequences. We can learn from their lives.

Prayer can also help us avoid hypocrisy. God will grant us the gift of discernment so we can make good choices. When we take our desires to God, he helps us understand our true motivation. He also helps admit our failures to ourselves and others--to be authentic, sincere, and transparent Christians. Often our real desires are not pretty, but how much better it is to recognize and correct our course early, before running aground.

Finally, each of us has a lifetime of work to do controlling our own tongue and behavior. When we focus on that, we will be less likely to commit the sin of Christian hypocrisy.

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Your Citation
Fairchild, Mary. "Christian Hypocrisy: Are You in Danger?" Learn Religions, Aug. 26, 2020, Fairchild, Mary. (2020, August 26). Christian Hypocrisy: Are You in Danger? Retrieved from Fairchild, Mary. "Christian Hypocrisy: Are You in Danger?" Learn Religions. (accessed May 29, 2023).