Whether it is sexual sin, greed, drug use, or any other expression of wickedness, it always seems worse when the person has been living it out behind closed doors for an extended period of time. It is not uncommon for the offending person to be outspoken in areas of righteousness, justice, etc. This makes it that much more painful when it is discovered that they were playing two parts, which is actually what the word ‘hypocrite’ means. In the ancient theater a single person would often act out a play. They would have various masks to use as they interpreted various characters. It is this wearing of various masks to portray various characters that defines a hypocrite.
Even within the world of hypocrisy there are different levels of expression. There are some hypocrites who despise their hypocrisy, but can’t figure out the best way to safely escape the lifestyle without causing unnecessary damage to others. Some are embarrassed by their position and trying to get out of the sin before anyone can find out. Then you have others who are simply playing the game so they can reap the pleasure found in their sin. God despises all of these situations… not because He hates the people, but because of the destruction that comes with sin and hypocrisy.
A hypocrite has a hard row to hoe in this world. We don’t like being deceived and we love outing deceivers. What we don’t do well is forgive deceivers. Part of that is the nature of the beast. If a person has been lying to you about their sin, it becomes difficult to believe them when they tell you that they are sorry. When lying is your main sin, you can’t be surprised when people do not believe you when you claim to be repentant.
But there is forgiveness for hypocrites. There must be. Most sins are done in secret. Rarely does anyone put out a sign saying, “I hate you,” or “I am cheating you out of a few bucks,” or “I just had some impure thoughts about the woman next to my wife,” or “I just lied.” We just do these things and hope nobody figures it out. So in a sense, we are all hypocrites at some level when we break God’s law. It is rare to find the person who is up front about their sin.
God hates hypocrisy because it goes against His nature. He is truth. He created us to be transparent and honest. God hates hypocrisy. But He loves hypocrites. He sent His Son to die for hypocrites. He transforms hypocrites into honest people.
The apostle Paul talked about many types of sins, but only one type of salvation. He believed that a person could be entirely transformed by the power of the Gospel. Here is what He wrote to some Christians in Colossae…
“Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds because of your evil actions. But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him-- if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard.” (Colossians 1:21-23)
A hypocrite can become a truly honest and holy person. But only by the power of Christ. Hypocrites have their limit. Grace does not. When a person has a clean heart before God, they have a clean heart. The hypocrites past may be in shambles, but their future can be established if they surrender to the purifying work of the Holy Spirit.
Then they must walk a consistent life before God and man. A reputation can be destroyed overnight, but it takes time to build it back up. This too comes with the guidance and help of the Spirit. A former hypocrite, like any former sinner must remain grounded and steadfast in the faith, not shifting away from the hope found in Christ.
Today, if you are a hypocrite, ask God to forgive and change you. Submit to His work. Walk in a new way. If you know a hypocrite, forgive them as Christ forgives your hypocrisy. Watch their life to see fruit of repentance. Help them as they walk away from that lifestyle.