Tuesday, November 13, 2012
From Matthew Henry's 'Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible' note on Psalm 78:1-8: "Hypocrisy is the high road to apostasy". I just had to look more deeply into that statement and came away with a few thoughts.
The pretense of believing does make it easy to renounce one's faith. For a professed Christian to turn away from God may mean their belief was not based on faith in the beginning. I think James' chapter 2, about works showing faith directly addressed hypocrisy.
Anyone can publicly state they have faith in God. Anyone can join a church, even attend on a semi-regular basis and tell others they are a Christian. That can be entered in a social network profile, available for anyone to read. Their works - their daily words and actions - will display more publicly if their profession of faith has a foundation built on God.
Professed faith becomes evident as hypocrisy when it is not lived. It is not always hypocrisy, however, when shortfalls are apparent. One can have faith in God and fail to achieve all of His commandments. Christians were and are sinners. Even when we've given our lives to Him and are walking the narrow path, we will stumble.
What removes us from hypocrisy is whether or not we are willing to apply God's corrective requirement of repentance to our lives and turn from where we stumbled. Continuing to repeat known sin is either hypocrisy or apostasy. We either pretend to believe or we renounce the belief we said we had.
In His world, it's for God to judge, while we are to check for motes and beams:
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye. (Luke 6:41-42 KJV)
See the order of correction? Self review, recognize our sin, get rid of it - then help with our brother's. We are never to do nothing! It is true that our brother needs help - after we've addressed our own sin against God. It is not hypocrisy to exhort another to reach for God's help.
How can we recognize these motes and beams? They are laid out in the Bible. We are told in more than one place by more than one man, each inspired by God, what is good and acceptable to Him, and what is not. We are told how to have faith:
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17 KJV)
We are told it is necessary:
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)
Hypocrite, apostate, or one coming to God in faith? It’s an individual choice and way of life.