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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Hypocrisy

HypocriteYou hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘this people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” (Matthew 15:7-9 ESV)

We do not have the ability to see into the heart of a man. Therefore, the character of most people is measured by their words and deeds. Many will measure the Christianity of their neighbors by such things as church attendance, participating in Bible classes, or taking part in church activities. If they don’t do these things, their Christianity is probably questioned; particularly if the person measuring these things is faithful in these activities. Don’t be fooled by participation in church activities; hypocrites do a lot of religious acts they say are for Jesus, but inside these people are spiritually dead.

It is prudent to withhold your judgment in deciding who is a hypocrite. People love to compare themselves to other people to measure their own righteousness. If they can judge themselves to be better than their neighbors, they believe they are worthy of heaven. Unfortunately, they forget that only God sets the standard of truth and the gate is narrow. How then are we to determine if a man is a Christian or simply a hypocrite posing as a Christian? The verses below give us some wisdom for this problem:

  • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;” (Galatians 5:22-23 ESV)
  • “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1 ESV)

Galatians 5 describes the authentic Christian. These are the evidences of the Holy Spirit working in a maturing Christian’s life. Christian growth begins with the inner man and flows outward that we may honor Christ by our conduct. However, Matthew 7 warns us to be careful in our judgment of others, because our judgments will be judged by the Word of God. The standard measure of righteousness is found in the Scriptures and perfectly applied by God. God does not compare men to each other to see who the best is. God judges men by the righteous standard of His Word. Yet, we who seek to judge hypocrisy in the church are not perfect. “Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2:3 ESV)

I do not deny that sometimes judgments must be made by the elders to maintain discipline in the house of God. Hypocrites may cause a lot of problems in the church. However, it is the duty of the elders to apply God’s Word to the problem and not their own preferences. We should be grateful to these men who are willing to accept God’s judgment on themselves for the decisions they make. In the meantime, we should be about the business of disciplining ourselves to become more conformed to Christ’s image.

Samuel at Gilgal

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