Sermon Transcript/Article: Are Christians Hypocrites?
I have 2 emotional charged statements that I would like you hear.
1st : “Christians are hypocrites.” And 2nd: “Well, if that’s how a Christian acts then I want nothing to do with Christianity.” Maybe you’ve said something like that or heard someone else say it. We all know that Christians are supposed to be good, kind, follow the rules, and try to act like God.
But many of them blow it, even in really big ways. They hurt people and make Christianity look back. Their poor representation of God has actually turned people away from wanting to learn about Jesus and making a decision to follow Him.
Now, to be fair, some of these people who claim to be Christians probably aren’t. Even Jesus says that just because you claim to be His follower and you give the appearance in public doesn’t mean that you actually are one. I’ll read what Jesus says about this in Matthew 7:21-23 21 “Not everyone who calls me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what my Father in heaven wants them to do. 22 When the Judgment Day comes, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! In your name we spoke God's message, by your name we drove out many demons and performed many miracles!’ 23 Then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you wicked people!’ (Good News Translation)
Jesus Condemned Hypocrisy
Thank goodness that the wonderful life-saving message of Christianity is not based on its members. Christianity is based on Jesus, who sacrificed Himself for our sinful behavior so that we can be forgiven. We can have a restored relationship with God. And we have eternal life with Him.
And he is not hypocritical. Jesus is not the Christian woman who publically pushed for abstinence yet ended up having an affair and destroying her family. Jesus is not the Christian father that physically abused his own child. Jesus is not the priest that gained a child’s trust and then molested him. Jesus is not the outspoken, arrogant pastor that preaches that all homosexuals should burn in hell. He is not the Christian leader or the spouse that uses the Bible or his leadership position to spiritually abuse you. Nor is He the TV evangelist that begs for money yet has his own mansion and expensive car. Jesus - is the perfect, sinless, holy son of God. Actually, He is God.
Text - Matthew 23
In Matthew 23, Jesus spoke out against the religious leaders and He even called them hypocrites. I will read verses 1- 7: “ Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses.3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. 4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden.5 “Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra-long tassels. 6 And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. 7 They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ (or teacher).”
And then Jesus goes on to say that they win converts to their own religion, but not actually to God. They reinterpreted their laws in order to suit their own purposes. They emphasized minute religious details, yet ignored the more important truths of God such as justice, mercy, and faith. They worked hard to look good on the outside, but inside they were greedy and self-indulgent. They even denied that they too were sinful. They were so bad that they eventually persecuted and killed real followers of Jesus, including Jesus Himself. So, Jesus clearly condemns hypocrisy among His followers and representatives.
Why Some Christians are Hypocritical
So what makes people become hypocritical? Well, it pretty much comes down to pride. We think or pretend that we are better than we really are. Pride is thinking that our way is the right way because we are better. Essentially it is self-worship. When we’re prideful, we don’t need God or other people to help us because we’re already doing it well enough. Christians that have a problem with pride will cling onto the morality that they like, and then force it on others, but they will ignore Biblical truths that they don’t like especially if it’s something sinful that they are struggling with. And some people use Christianity and the Bible to manipulate and control others for some kind of personal gain – maybe for monetary reasons or for their own popularity. You might even see this behavior in some church leaders. It’s called spiritual abuse. And it is wrong.
I’m going to describe a well-known man. This man used Christianity to manipulate others so that he could grow in power. “He made free use of Christian vocabulary. He talked about the blessing of the Almighty and the Christian confessions which would become the pillars of the new government. He assumed the earnestness of a man weighed down by historic responsibility. He handed out pious stories to the press, especially to the church papers. He showed his tattered Bible and declared that he drew the strength for his great work from it as scores of pious people welcomed him as a man sent from God. Indeed, Adolf Hitler was a master of outward religiosity--with no inward reality! (Today in the Word June 3, 1989). I think it would be hard to find anyone these day who believes that Hitler was actually a Christian. But it sounds like, there once was a time when he had people fooled. He is a perfect example of a hypocrite.
True Christ-like Character
God has high moral standards for his true followers. He wants us to be Christ-like. However, human beings cannot do this perfectly. They do make mistakes. But making a mistake and not attaining perfection are not the same as being a hypocrite. There are many Christians genuinely trying to live the Christian life, relying on the Holy Spirit to convict them and change them. Numerous Christians live good lives free from hypocrisy and scandal. Many live selfless lives, trying very hard to live by high moral standards. And one such person is a nurse named Charlotte Thrall. I read an article about her called Mercy-Full Nurse in Christianity Today Magazine. I’ll read a portion of the article.
“When Diego was a little boy in Mexico, his abusive father plunged a fireplace poker into the 3-year-old's left eye. Diego and his mother fled to the United States, ending up in Phoenix. But Diego's misery continued. Essentially blind, haunted by memories of his father, and mocked by fellow students, he was suicidal by age 10. His mom was undocumented, with no insurance or access to services. That's when Charlotte Thrall heard about their plight. A nurse who uses her skills to serve Phoenix's uninsured and undocumented, she connected Diego to an ophthalmologist for his eye and a psychiatrist for his anguish. The former crafted a custom contact lens that restored some of Diego's sight. The latter put him on an antidepressant that may have saved the boy's life. All this for free. Today, Diego is a thriving 16-year-old who enjoys playing soccer. If it weren't for Charlotte, he might have ended up as another lost statistic.”
Due to the political climate surrounding immigration, many undocumented Latinos are afraid to seek medical help. Instead of involving herself in the political fight, Charlotte Thrall has dedicated herself to showing compassion. She has been able to help around 2,000 people within seven years - without being paid. And most of her clients have been undocumented. She doesn’t have an office, just a cell phone and a Chevy Tahoe filled with medical supplies. She meets their various physical needs, makes referrals to other medical providers, and offers to pray with them. Charlotte is a good example of a selfless Christian trying to represent Jesus well.
That was just 1 example of Christian that is doing it right. She is looking on at her fellow human beings as Jesus would. Through her empathy and compassion she is doing what she can to help people with their physical and spiritual needs. And this is what Jesus did during His ministry on Earth. Yet even the best representatives of Jesus are still humans who sin. The only One who is truly perfect and without sin is Jesus. He is the only one that can ever live up to God’s perfect holy standards. Only He could truly practice what He preached without ever making a mistake. But we still need to do our best, to work at transforming ourselves to becoming like Christ. And this isn’t going to happen instantly, as soon as we make a commitment to follow Jesus. Plus, we will continue to struggle with the temptation to sin. But Ephesians 4:23-24 instructs us to stop sinning and allow the Holy Spirit to transform our lives. It says “ Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from Him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”
God is Holy
God wants us to pursue holiness in our lives, because He is holy. Actually, He is the absolute perfect example of being Holy. Bill Bright explains God’s holiness in his book called God – Discover His Character. To be holy means to cut or to separate. God is above, exalted, and separate from all that He created. His holiness also means that He is completely set apart from sin. God is so holy that no one can look upon His glory and live. No one can approach our holy God without a covering of blood to atone for the forgiveness of his sin. The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross provided a covering of blood against the anger of God for unconfessed sin. The only thing that can satisfy the judgment of sin demanded by God’s holiness is the shedding of pure, innocent blood. And only Jesus’ blood met this high standard. God is the absolutely pure and righteous being who hates evil. He cannot tolerate any unrighteousness. Habakkuk 1:13 tells us, that God’s eyes are too pure to look on evil; He cannot tolerate wrong (NIV). God’s holiness demands consequences for sin. We have broken His standard of holiness, and His holiness demands that He judge our sin, not ignore or excuse it.” And Jesus paid our consequence for sin for us when He sacrificed himself by dying on the cross.
Bob Hyatt, a pastor of The Evergreen Community in Portland, Oregon says the following concerning the hypocritical reputation of Christianity. “Our churches aren't perfect by any means, and the people serving in those churches are sinful, fallen human beings as well. But there are many pastors out there who are doing their darndest to love people and serve Jesus who don't deserve the same broad brush as the few narcissistic control freaks who have somehow wandered into the ministry. There are more communities of faithfulness who are refuges for hurting people, serving their cities with love than there are abusive churches that use people up and spit them out. If you have been hurt by a church, or by certain pastors, let me say I'm sorry. I too have hurt people in my ministry. Our church has, at times contributed to the problem. I think more often than not, we've done right by people and tried our hardest to be kingdom agents of healing. I don't think we are by any means special. I think the vast majority of pastors and churches have heads and hearts in the right places.
Conclusion and Application
Unfortunately, we will continue to hear about Christians being hypocritical and poorly representing God. You and I will probably have another personal experience in which a Christian hurts us or disappoints us. I really don’t want to be one of those Christians, but I’m afraid that at times I too may misrepresent God and maybe even act hypocritical. That’s not what I want to be like, but if I am that way – I hope that people will look past me and my flaws to see Jesus – the only One that will never hurt you. So, I think that we need to rise above our hurts and disappointments concerning Christians or those who claim to be. Because Jesus is the only one we can absolutely count on to never fail us.
I’d like to leave you with the following 2 challenges:
1st - for the person who has been hurt by a Christian or a church – there are some Christians and fake Chistians out there who are hypocritical. But Jesus is not. He is perfect and He won’t fail you. Give Jesus a chance, it’s a matter of your eternity. He offers you salvation by believing in Him, trusting in Him, and living your life for Him. If you are interested in learning more about Jesus, but not ready to join in on the whole church thing, that’s OK. You can develop a relationship with Him on your own. You can learn about Him and talk to Him without being in a church. There are full copies of the Bible at biblegateway.com to read online or you can download Bible apps to your phone. There are thousands of sermons online that you can learn from. You may get to a point where you decide that you would like to visit a group of Christians in a church or a small group setting. I know for myself that it has been really rewarding to belong to a church – being able to worship, pray and socialize with other people who follow Jesus. But if you’re not ready for that - then that’s fine. The most important thing to focus on is your one on one relationship with Him anyhow. However, if you do join a church and it doesn’t feel right – maybe the focus is more on the leaders rather than Jesus, then you might want to move on and look for a Christian community that is right for you because they are out there.
And 2nd - for the person who calls themself a Christian. We have a responsibility to represent Jesus well. The Bible tells us to be transformed from that old sinful way of life. We are supposed to pursue holiness. Remember that we were made in God’s image and therefore we should reflect His character traits. People are watching us and trying to decide whether or not to join in on our spiritual beliefs. Our Christian example may have a lot to do with whether or not they choose to pursue Jesus. How terrible it would be if our bad behavior turned them away from Jesus. Many people can think of examples of Christian who have acted like hypocrites, so we need to correct that disappointment for them and be examples of good, moral, selfless Christians that represent Jesus well.