In one sense, you could say Jesus loved the word “hypocrite.” But in another sense, He hated the concept because He warned of hypocrisy twenty times in the gospels. A hypocrite is an actor or one who plays a part. And the people Jesus had the greatest problem with were religious!
People will fool you. And by people I’m especially addressing Christians, the ones who show up every time the doors of the church building open. These Christians will fool you by pretending to be something they’re not. And people will fool you no matter where you are — whether in Lufkin, Texas or Beijing, China. In order to touch people’s hearts and bring them to repentance, there’s a couple of important ways that need mentioning.
There are Christians who lead secret lives of sin. This “double life” might include drinking, pornography, adultery, lying, profanity — or a dozen other sins. They look the proper part, but their hearts, and therefore their lives, are full of corruption (Matthew 15:20-21; Romans 1:29-31; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:9-10; Revelation 21:8).
These secret sins must be repented of or else a Christian will not be transformed in their spirit. Paul exhorted to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). The true transforming of the mind and deeds matters to God “who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). This is critical because “… he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption …” (Galatians 6:8).
Just as dangerous as secret sins are secret stances. These include, but are not limited to, saints, elders, and preachers leaving the faith for institutionalism, or holding Bible positions like authority isn’t established by command, example, and necessary inference; baptism isn’t essential for our salvation; instrumental music is acceptable in worship; Jesus wasn’t truly and fully God and man; the world won’t be destroyed like was prophesied; divorce and remarriage can occur for unscriptural reasons, etc., ad infinitum.
What’s wrong with believing the way you want? Paul warned of “unrighteous deception,” “not receiving the love of the truth,” and those who “did not believe the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). John equated not abiding in the doctrine of Christ with not having God and “evil deeds” (2 John 9-11). Said another way, secret stances are serious — and dangerous!
What the gospel calls people to do is give up worldly practices, positions, and assertions so that they can truly put on Christ, both in life and belief. People will fool you. And no one may ever know of your secret sin or stance — but God will. Scripture says He “will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts” (1 Corinthians 4:5).