One of the most foolish mistakes we can make is to think that we are beyond hypocrisy. Even though we are not all hypocrites, our sinful nature ensures we are all capable of hypocrisy.
“For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.” Galatians 5:17 (NKJV)
Our sinful nature is always living within us waiting on an opportunity to lead us into sin. Our sinful nature would love for us to be hypocrites that are content to appear devoted to Jesus.
Inside of each of us there is a part of us that we don’t like to talk about or think about, but it’s there nonetheless. This sinful nature will take over in our lives if we are not aware of it and constantly fighting against it. We must have the humility of mind to recognize and accept that we are flawed and imperfect humans that still have a sinful nature at work in us that makes then vulnerable to giving in to temptations, even the temptation to hypocrisy.
One of the best warnings about this is found In 1 Corinthians 10. In verses 1-4 Paul reminds the Corinthians of God’s leadership and amazing provision for Israel during the exodus period. Despite all that God had done in, through, and for Israel, their sinful nature was a problem.
“But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” 1 Corinthians 10:5 (NKJV)
Even though these people had seen God do amazing things that they sinned against God. God was forced to punish them because of their sin and rebellion. The sins are mentioned are important to notice because they are common in our culture as well.
Idolatry. “And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” 1 Corinthians 10:7 (NKJV)
For us this could simply mean putting something or someone (likely ourselves) ahead of Jesus.
Sexual Sin. “Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;” 1 Corinthians 10:8 (NKJV)
Tempted Christ. “nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents;” 1 Corinthians 10:9 (NKJV)
One of my commentaries said the idea here is they tried His patience by seeing how far they could go before He would punish them.
Complained. “nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.” 1 Corinthians 10:10 (NKJV)
They complained about God’s provision, protection and deliverance. They were destroyed for this.
These sins are all pretty familiar to us today, which is actually the point.
“Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.” 1 Corinthians 10:6 (NKJV)
“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11 (NKJV)
These things serve as an example for us. They were given to warn us. These stories warn us to be careful not to make the same sorts of mistakes that the Israelites made. They are an example to let us know that even those who have seen God do great things can, and will be, tempted by sin. These examples also remind us that God will punish sin. While hypocrisy is not specifically mentioned in this passage, this passage is still extremely relevant for us on this topic.
It’s relevant for us because the Church of Jesus Christ has suffered tremendous shame from people who pretended to be devoted to Jesus while
Living Idolatrous Lives.
Sexually Immoral Lives.
Complaining About Pretty Much Everything.
They were hypocrites who wanted to appear devoted to Jesus without actually being devoted to Jesus.
Paul knew that some would say, “Golly, I would never do that.”
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:12 (NKJV)
If you don’t think you’d pretend to be devoted to Jesus while living a duplicitous life, be careful. If you’re not, you may give in to it. We must never get the idea that we are immune to the temptation to hypocrisy. As long as we have a sinful nature within us we are susceptible to hypocrisy. I think one of Satan’s most successful ploys is to make us think we are immune to a temptation like hypocrisy. He convinces us to believe that we are better than that and so we would never do it. The day you conclude that you have conquered sin and your sinful nature, is probably the day you are most vulnerable. Remember that it only takes a little hypocrisy and eventually our entire lives will be infected with it.
One of the keys to ensuring that you are truly devoted to Jesus and not merely appearing devoted to Jesus is to be aware of your sinful nature. We must be honest that when the song says “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it…” it is speaking of us and yes we feel it. We don’t give in to our sinful nature. We don’t lose heart because of our sinful nature but we acknowledge that it’s there and we never underestimate it’s power to draw us away into hypocrisy