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Are Christians Hypocrites?


The word hypocrite is from the Greek and was used to describe one who spoke from under a mask. Since this was a theater term, it also included the idea of intentionality for the purpose of deception. Since Jesus used the word to describe the Pharisees, one would also include self-deception in the idea.

The bible does not describe Christians as sinless but rather having the option to lead better lives if they walk after the Spirit instead of the flesh. The idea that Christians sin less and are “better” often comes from Christians themselves who misunderstand Christianity as rule following. If a Christian claims to be better and then falls short, he is justifiably called a hypocrite. However, even if he does not apparently commit some egregious sin, he would still be a hypocrite.

Seeing the Christian life in terms of accomplishment or performance (also theater terms) can lead one to the posturing and affectations seen with the Pharisees (as well as actors). This is the sort of self-deception can lead to the self-righteousness that sees others with contempt (Luke 18:9).

In answer to the question, “Are Christians hypocrites?”, the answer is all too often for many, yes. Jesus even warned his disciples about this danger calling it “leaven”. Leaven is the yeast that causes bread to become soft through the excretion of CO2 gas. The phrase “puffed up” captures this inflated idea of self that can make an internal prison that is almost impossible to escape because it can feel good.

Some coworkers who knew I was a Christian asked me once to explain another coworker who made a show of his Christianity. I thought about how I could explain it and came up with the illustration that if you compared yourself to the worst person you knew, you might think pretty highly of yourself. However, if you compare yourself to Christ, you would come up with a more realistic opinion. Many people fail to appreciate how fragile truth is. Once the connection to truth is lost there is little to stop self-deception.

James Clavel once wrote about the Chinese that they had six different faces and none of them were true. This may be the result in living in a culture so brutal that any revelation of true thoughts left one vulnerable to exploitation, disadvantage, and even persecution. Even today Western society is tending in that direction As Christianity becomes increasingly less well thought of, one should expect to see less Christian hypocrisy because there would be little advantage in it.

In a way hypocrisy severs the connection to truth. As Christians are supposed to walk in truth, seek truth, and grow in truth, at best a Christian that shows hypocrisy is retarded in his development and at worst not even a Christian at all. One should be cautious as there would be judgment for those who bring the name of Christ into disrepute.




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