Hypocrite is defined as someone whose actions are not consistent with their self-defined beliefs – not living the words they speak, or the standards they require of others. Often people see hypocrites in churches and use that as a reason for not going to church. I find that a very poor excuse.
Hypocrites are everywhere outside the church, too. We see them on television, we elect them to office, we meet them in stores, we have them in our families, and we see them in the mirror, too.
The Bible speaks of hypocrites..
An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered. (Proverbs 11:9 KJV)
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. (Matthew 7:4-5 KJV)
The problem for those who use the excuse is they are thinking, “They are supposed to be Christians. Christians are not supposed to sin. Since that person is sinning, they are worse than I am, so they are a hypocrite.” That sort of thinking forgets that for a person to say they are a Christian, they must first have admitted to be a sinner. One cannot come to Christ without acknowledging their own sinfulness.
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Romans 3:23 KJV)
What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (Romans 3:9-10 KJV)
There are some in the church who are not being genuine in their attempt to repent, to allow change in their life. However, to say that all are not genuine is not an accurate statement. In Matthew 13:24-30, Christ gives the parable of the tares and the wheat. There people in the church who are not believers. Some are not clear on what repentance and profession of faith truly are – they simply have not understood the gospel clearly. Others may be struggling with their own sins, seeing their own shortcomings and needing to point out others simply to feel comfortable.
Some may have joined a church because it was the “right” thing to do. Or because they have been told they must in order to get to heaven. Some join for social reasons, or family members strongly encouraged them to do so.
The majority of members are like me – sinners who have accepted Christ as their Lord and savior. We are learning to live more closely to what Christ taught. We are totally dependent on God’s grace for salvation, not our word or deeds. We read His word, talk with His people and pray fervently for His direction. We know He is capable of keeping us, we cannot.
Those in the church have examples around them to help see the error of their ways. The church is made up of imperfect people with a goal to become more like Christ. Those outside the church do not spend time with such examples, even if they have a similar goal.
To leave a church because of hypocrites – or not to come to one at all because of that excuse – does not keep hypocrites out of our lives. And, if we keep looking for the perfect church, that will not be found on this earth. If it were, we are too imperfect to be members.