Hypocrites in the Church

By Royce Frederick

Are there any hypocrites in the church? Certainly. Some members commit sins which become known to a large number of people, yet pretend that their life is holy. Others avoid such open sins, but act the hypocrite in less obvious ways: by singing that they love Jesus, while failing to love the person next to them; by preaching self-sacrifice, while practicing self-indulgence; and so on.

There were also hypocrites in the church in its infancy. Peter told Christians to lay aside their hypocrisy (1 Pet. 2:1). The first known case of hypocrisy in the church is in Acts 5:1-11. Ananias and Sapphira pretended to be generous, but were actually very selfish. God struck them dead that very day. How many of us would survive if He dealt with every case that way? By that example, God showed us that He knows our heart and sees through every pretense.

Every Christian sins occasionally. Those who try to conceal their sins are called “hypocrites” (Matt. 7:5; 23:28; see 1 Jn. 1:6, 8, 10). Those who confess their sins and try to do better are called “forgiven” (Rom. 4:7; 1 Jn. 1:7, 9)!

Some people declare, “I will never obey the gospel, because there are too many hypocrites in the church.” There are too many. One is too many. But is that a good reason to reject the Lord, His church, and salvation? Have you ever heard anyone say, “I will never use money again, because there is too much counterfeit money”?

Are all the hypocrites on the inside of the church? Could there be some on the outside, too? Could some of them be using “too many hypocrites in the church” as an excuse to conceal the real reason they do not obey the gospel — their lack of love for the Lord?

Whether in or out of the church, all hypocrites who remain that way will share eternal fellowship with each other. Jesus spoke of sinners who will be thrown in “with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 24:51).

So the choices are clear: we can worship with some hypocrites for a short time, or wail with all of them forever.

The best choice is to overcome hypocrisy and humble our hearts to God. And who knows? By laying aside any hypocrisy that is keeping you out of the church, you may help save some of those hypocrites who are in the church!