How We Miss Out on Grace: Evangelical Hypocrisy


One of my sons-in-law grew up in a town where he observed religious people acting one way on Sunday mornings, but completely different on Friday nights. He wasn’t a follower of Christ at the time. In his mind, the church he attended and some other churches in the town had very different beliefs and rituals, but the one thing they did have in common was hypocrisy.

The word hypocrisy (hypocrite being one of Jesus’ favorite labels for religious posers) comes from the Greek word “hypokrites,” which means “stage actor or pretender.” It was one thing that really raised Jesus’ anger! I can just see the veins sticking out of His neck as He exposed the two-faced nature of some religious leaders who were “wearing masks.” I can imagine what really got to Him was that those same religious thespians were duplicitous, but they also tenaciously judged the common people who followed them, to a much higher standard.

Imagine receiving these words from Jesus:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like
whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean” (Matthew 23:27 NIV).

Ouch! If we’re honest, we all have blind spots and we often hold others to a different standard than we hold ourselves. The big difference rests in whether we are humbly open to God’s standards, quick to repent, and have a desire to see the Spirit of God transform us from the inside out.

Is there an area of your life where you are holding someone else to a certain standard, but in a different area of sin you are giving yourself as pass? For you who are married, do you ever see that dynamic in your relationship with your spouse? 

Maybe you are realizing that you do have some mask-wearing or acting going on in your relationship with others, but up until now you have had no intention to make things right. It may be time to confess and ask God to make your relationship with Him different. Your words and actions will begin to be transformed in the safe place of His grace. The gospel message changes everything. We need have no fear to bring ourselves before the Lord, that He might wash the inside of our lives as well as the outside.

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