<<fraud, deceiver>>

A hypocrite says, ‘do as I say, not do as I do’. Hypocrisy is pretence, deceiving by giving a false impression of something untrue.  If we claim to be in a right relationship with God, yet not in right relationship to others we are hypocrites, for broken human relationships hinder fellowship with God (Mt 5:23,24; 1 Jn 1:7). The Bible gives further examples of hypocrites: they bless with the mouth but curse with the heart (Ps 62:4); smooth talk disguising the real nature within (Prov 26:23-26); lips that honour God, but the heart is far from Him (Isa 29:13); claiming to know God but their actions deny Him (Tit 1:16; 1 Jn 2:4, 6); if a person claims to be a Christian yet can’t control their tongue (Jas 1:26); if a person claims to be God’s friend, yet continues to sin (1 Jn 1:6); if we say we haven’t sinned (1 Jn 1:8,10). It is not enough just to know the Word of God – we are to let it change our hearts.

Our actions must match our words, or as in the parable of the unmerciful servant we are to do to others as we have asked to be done to us (Mt 18:21-35). Jesus talked a lot about the religious hypocrites of His day, who overtly did things for outward appearances, putting on an outer mask of ‘proper’ behaviour to gain attention and admiration yet failing to follow their own teaching – “they do

We must walk the walk, not just talk the talk

not practice what they preach” (Mt 6:2, 23:1-29). He said they were blind to their own faults, to God’s working and to the true sense of values (Lk 6:41,42, 12:56, 13:15). Judas became a hypocrite. While pretending to be devoted to Jesus and having fellowship with Him he was planning to betray Him (Mt 26:14-16, 20-29, 47-50). Two NT believers pretended to be more generous than they were. Their hypocrisy was revealed and the consequences were severe (Act 5:1-10).

Sometimes Christians have been accused of being hypocrites and it is true we fail to live up to the standards the Bible teaches. While we have been saved from sin's eternal penalty we are not yet saved and delivered from the presence of sin in our lives, including the sin of hypocrisy (Rom 5:1, 6:23; 1 Jn 1:8,9).

Jesus said our priority should be to correct our own shortcomings rather than in pride and self-righteousness pointing out the faults of others (Mt 7:3-5). He was not teaching against discernment or in humility helping others overcome sin but be aware of our own sinfulness (Rom 2:1). We are to "hate what is evil" and "strive for holiness" (Rom 12:9; 1 Pet 1:16). Jesus gave a stern warning that some who claimed to know Him will hear Him say to them, "Depart from me, I never you" (Mt 7:23).

A person is not a hypocrite if they genuinely try to do the right thing but fail to reach perfection.

See also: deception, Judas, lying, Pharisees, pretence/pretend.