Hypocrisy in Religion

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by SueJLove, Apr 30, 2015.

  1. Thursday, April 30, 2015, 3:44 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Lord, Move Me.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Romans 2 (selected vv. ESV).

    Judging Others

    Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 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? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. ~ Ro. 2:1-8​

    Is this an indictment against all judging? I don’t believe so. In context, it is clear this is speaking to those who judge condemningly, hypocritically and arrogantly. These who judge in this way think they are better than those they think are less than them. In context, it appears Paul is speaking to the Jews who looked down on the Gentiles. God, through Paul, was letting them know that they were no better, for they did the same things the Gentiles did. All of us, whether Jew or Gentile by birth, were born into sin. None of us is righteous in our own merit or through our own good works. Only through faith in Jesus Christ can anyone be saved from their sins and be considered righteous in God’s eyes, so not one of us has the right to think we are better than others, especially if we are condemning of them when we do the same things. “There but for the grace of God go I” (unknown author).

    This is obviously also addressed to those with hard and unrepentant hearts. Yet, Paul was speaking to “religious” people – the people who had been the children of God, but had rejected Jesus Christ as their Lord and Messiah. Many “religious” (self-righteous) people today look down on those who they think are less than them, because those they deem “less” commit certain sins. But, the self-righteous are really no better, because they, too, have not repented of their sins, and have not believed in Jesus for their salvation. So, although they may dress up on Sunday mornings, and carry a Bible (or not), and go to a “church service,” that does not make them any better than those who do not, and yet they act as though they are better and they snub those they deem as less valuable. So, this is an indictment against them – against hypocritical, condemning and arrogant judging, and against empty religion absent of true repentance and obedience to Jesus Christ.

    Not Hearers Only But Doers

    For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. ~ Ro. 2:12-16​

    Again, the Jews thought they were better than the Gentiles because they had been given the Law of Moses. Many religious people today think they are better than the non-religious merely because they were brought up in the church and they were privileged to have received a copy of God’s Word, the Bible, perhaps from infanthood through adulthood. They also might think they are better because of all the training they have received in the Word or in religion. Knowledge often puffs up. They think they are better, too, because they go to a “church service” on Sunday mornings and they sing songs of praise to God, and because they go through certain religious rituals and practices, and because they don’t smoke, drink alcohol (though some do), or whatever they might believe are “bad” things for religious people to do. Yet many of these “religious” people are just as guilty of sinning as those who are non-religious, and many “religious” people are actually involved in sinful acts just as bad or worse (by human standards) than those who are among the non-religious.

    The point of what Paul says here is that we are no better off just because of some religious heritage we have received, which was passed down to us from generation to generation, or because of some privilege we have received because we were blessed to have been brought up in the church and under the teaching of The Word. If we don’t accompany what we know with obedience to the Word, then we are no different from those who were not brought up under the Word at all. In fact, many who were not privileged to be brought up in the church and under the teaching of the Word have more readily obeyed Christ’s commandments (his teachings and instructions) than those who knew the scriptures from infanthood.

    James said something similar to this when he said, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22-25 NIV84). The “perfect law that gives freedom” is based in Jesus Christ and what he did for us in dying on the cross for our sins. Essentially, it is the gospel of our salvation. Because of what Jesus did in providing for us the way to be saved from our sins, our faith in what Jesus did for us, which includes repentance and obedience, results in freedom from slavery to sin, freedom to walk in Christ’s righteousness and holiness, and the hope of eternal life with God in glory.

    Teach Yourself

    But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth— you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

    For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. ~ Ro. 2:17-29​

    If we have been saved from our sins, and we truly are in relationship with God, because of his grace to us in saving us, and through faith in Jesus Christ, or if we are under the impression we are saved, although we have never repented of our sins and have not turned to God to walk in obedience to him, we may be guilty of teaching others what we do not practice ourselves. There is much hypocrisy which goes on in the life of the church. Not one of us is perfect, and not one of us will live completely sinless lives, though we should never use our lack of perfection as an excuse for continued willful sin against God. So, this isn’t saying that we have to be perfect, but it is saying that we should not be hypocritical. Especially for those of us who are teachers of the Word, though in some sense we should all be teachers, we should not teach others to not do what we knowingly are doing ourselves. We should not put on a false face pretending to be something we are not and then turn around and sin in the ways in which we are teaching others to not sin.

    Lastly, God is not impressed or interested in our “religious” performances or rituals. We can look clean on the outside, and we may even go through all the right motions, and do all the right religious things to do, but if we are not cleansed on the inside by the grace of God in saving us from our sins, through genuine repentant and obedient faith in Jesus Christ, then all our religion accounts to nothing. It is useless. It has no value. It is just a bunch of noise. We need to have hearts that have been transformed of the Spirit of God in delivering us from slavery to (the control of) sin over our lives, and in setting us free to walk daily in Christ’s righteousness and holiness. This is the working of the Spirit of God in regeneration in our lives, yet we must cooperate fully with his work of grace in our lives. This is what it means to have faith. We must die with Christ to our old lives of sin, and we must be reborn of the Spirit in now walking according to the Spirit, and no longer according to the flesh.

    Lord, Move Me / An Original Work / October 16, 2011

    Be my desire, my heart set on fire,
    Lord, move me to worship You only, I pray.
    Fill with Your Spirit, my heart overflow.
    Lord, may I long for You; Your word to know.
    Teach me to walk with You, Lord, in Your power,
    And may I serve You, Lord, right now in this hour.

    Lord, how I want to obey You forever.
    Help me to hear You, Lord, so I will not stray.
    Teach me to love You; adore You always.
    Envelope me, Lord, with Your grace today.
    Meet me in my need, and show me Your mercy.
    Forgive me for all things, as I humbly pray.

    Counsel me, lead me, direct me, and guide me,
    So I follow You, Lord, where’er You lead now.
    I love to hear You speak Your words to me.
    I am so grateful that You set me free.
    Wash me, and cleanse me, and make me like You, Lord,
    And I will live with You for eternity.

  2. Hypocrisy, (the practice of claiming to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case) is a natural human (worldly) characteristic. It is based in our body-mind and not from our spirit-mind. As long as we have an ideal self, spiritually or worldly, we are vulnerable to claiming it before our due. An example of such a claim is found in pride. Spiritual pride, for oneself, is also prone to be expressed in hypocrisy.

    Claiming anything for our ego-self, or false-self, is an act of wanting to be god (the desire to be self-reliant in all areas). Worldly people are driven by their false-self, which likes to be liked and likes to be right. This sets them up to spout idealism far above their own station - hypocrisy becomes inevitable.

    The person who has come to a point of surrender to the greater truth, realize that they are bankrupt idealists. They experience a deflation of ego at depth. They have returned to earth (humus) from up high (pride). They are once again humbled (derived from the word humus).
    Only the humble and meek have a chance to remain true to their real-self.
  3. I think I know what you are saying here, only I would change this last sentence to say "remain true to God," for if we are true to him, we are also true to the self which has been crucified with Christ so that we no longer live, but Christ lives within us, and we now live and walk in his power and strength within us.
  4. True. That is why the real-self opposes the false-self. The real-self being the Spirit-self - who we truly are.
    SueJLove likes this.
  5. Thank you Sister Sue for yet another cut to the heart message to chew on for time on end.
    I see in these days Christians taking scriptures and using them as commands to judge other servants of God and accuse them falsly. This should not ever be. Sure we need to judge what we allow into our hearts and judge our motives and actions but other then that we should be praying and forgiving and walking in Love.

    When we judge others, especially His servants we raise the standard very high to be judge with and the problem comes when you can not stand under your own standard of judging.
    We are to forgive and love our enemies and judge our brothers ? In no way is this ever true.
    Thank you again
    God Bless
    SueJLove likes this.
  6. Jim, all glory to God! Thank you for sharing those encouraging words with me.

    God does not condemn all judging. He condemns hypocritical, false, self-righteous, condemning judging which is based in our flesh, which compares ourselves to others, which relies upon the thinking and appraisal of human beings, and which often depends on traditions of humankind to decide who is right and who is wrong. This kind of judging cares nothing for the objects of the judging. Its sole purpose is to snub, condemn, slander, ostracize, reject, etc. Jesus and the apostles were often the objects (recipients) of such judging.

    The Bible does teach, nonetheless, that we are to address sin, that we are to snatch people from the fires of hell and save them, that we are to lead others to turn from sin and to turn to God in faith, that we are to judge the church, that we are to lift up a brother or sister who has fallen, and that we are to confront a brother or sister in Christ if we see they are trapped in sin, but only if our hearts are in the right place first, and only for the purpose to restore them and to forgive them, not to reject them or condemn them.
    Fish Catcher Jim likes this.
  7. #7 JohnC, May 3, 2015
    Last edited: May 3, 2015
    Interestingly enough... When we cast "judgement" upon the things of the world and all it offers us - openly condemning those practicing such things... They get mad and quit listening.... This shuts down the Gospel.....

    On the other hand - when we simply shine our light - bring forth the Fruit of the Spirit - Love, joy, peace, patience, etc - they SEE something is different and want it... They see that the emptiness, anger, lust, loneliness, and frustration that fills them is somehow not in us... AND THEY WANT IT!!!

    They cast about - copying what they think are the works that bring this - family values, friendship, charity, ethics and morality, justice, diversity, humility, marriage, "religion", etc - but they are only left MORE empty... and they cast about more - WHY isn't it working when I see this light in you?

    and that gives us a chance to share The Gospel with them....

    That's why its important not to throw rocks at "The world" - accusation and scandalization..... It shuts down the avenue for them to see the light in us and desire the spirit that is within us..
    Fish Catcher Jim and Peter Luke say Amen and like this.
  8. My Pastor and Spiritual Father once told me...........once you offend some one you are done ministering to them. They will not listen to anything else you have to say.
    Peter Luke likes this.
  9. Jesus and the apostles are our model for how we should minister God's message of salvation to the world about us. Yes, we should not go around beating the people of this world over the head with harsh and condemning words, most especially if we are doing so hypocritically, and if our judging of them shows contempt for them or is stemmed in human reasoning and tradition, rather than in the word of God. Yet, at the same time, we should not shrink back from speaking the truth in love, either, because we think we have to somehow soft-sell the gospel so as not to offend the world. Jesus always spoke the truth and so did his apostles when preaching the gospel of our salvation. They didn't soft-sell the gospel or tread lightly so as not to hurt people's feelings. They stepped on toes often, and were hated and killed for it, too. I have seen too many people, in an attempt to avoid legalism and to avoid being harsh and "judgmental" go to the opposite extreme of diluting the gospel so as to make it more acceptable to the world and to feel as though they can't tell people the truth of the gospel as it might offend them and they might not want to come back.

    The bottom line here is that we need to follow the examples and teachings given us in scripture on how we are to approach the people of this world with the message of salvation. And, the approach may vary depending upon the audience or the occasion or the history we have had with certain people. Sometimes a more gentle approach is required while other times we must take a more direct approach, but never in being condescending or mean or hateful or showing contempt for anyone, but always with love, kindness and respect. The most critical thing here is, "Are we doing what we are doing in our own flesh and our own way because we think that will be more acceptable to our audience?" Or, "Are we allowing the Spirit of God to lead and empower us and to give us the words He should desire that we say?" I don't believe we should ever shrink back from telling the truth for fear we might offend people, for the cross is an offense, but we should be sensitive to the Spirit's voice in following His lead and in doing it His way and not try to do it our way thinking our way is best.
    Mykuhl likes this.
  10. Depends on what offended them. The gospel is an offense. If we are sharing the gospel in the power of the Spirit it will offend some people, but the Spirit can draw them to Christ despite their initial reaction. Jesus' brothers were offended by his words. They didn't believe him. They mocked him and wrote him off as crazy. Yet, when he rose from the dead and he appeared to them, we know that some of them believed in him. So, just because someone is offended by the gospel does not mean we did something wrong or that they will never come to Christ, or that they will never come back to us for help or counsel. Some will.

    Yet, if we are offending them because we are being prideful, selfish, bigoted, hateful, etc. and because we spoke our own words our own way and we didn't rely on the Spirit to lead and to guide us, then that is another whole matter. In that case, we should go to them humbly and confess our wrong and hope they will forgive us and will continue to allow us to be part of their lives. Some will and some won't, and some will not presently, but may later on.

    So, we must always be obedient to the Spirit's prompting and to the teachings of Christ and the apostles and for following their model in how to approach people with the gospel (in the Spirit), and we should then leave the results to God. We should always examine our own hearts and make sure they are in the right place. And, we should always remain sensitive to the Spirit's voice where he convicts our hearts and tells us we did wrong, although Satan will speak to our hearts, too, and will tell us we did wrong when we did right, so we need to be discerning about that. And, we should always be willing to repent of our errors and to attempt to be reconciled with those whom we have offended, and to ask to be forgiven. None of us will speak perfectly well all the time.
  11. Here's something I have been thinking about a lot recently...

    The Toes Jesus stepped on most frequently were those of the "Professional Religious Establishment"... and the MAJORITY of these troubling movements we see "In the world" have "Professional religious establishment" hiding behind them providing support to their positions...

    While Jesus NEVER authorized or facilitated the sin of the world - he also didn't attempt to "Drop the big hammer" on the world, either.... He showed the light of the world - and then provided the path for them to come and receive it.

    Ironically - we like to do it the other way around.... We feel we must be soft and comforting towards the "Professional religious establishment" - and "Toe the hard line" with The World.... So - we preach being non-judgemental towards the ones who are preaching ANOTHER Gospel besides Jesus... Comforting towards the RELIGIOUS establishment that champions abortion, divorce, homosexual marriage, sexual mischief, revelry, and superiority over the world.... Non-judgemental towards the pastor/elders/deacons who practice scandal, division, lording over others, and superiority .... and we drop the hammer hard on the Homosexual who wants to get married (Who already KNOWS he is going to hell..)....

    Mykuhl likes this.
  12. Hmmmm something to think about and consider. Thank you for posting that.
  13. Good points! I see where you are coming from now. Yet, Jesus' words were not just an offense to the religious establishment. Many who were following him turned away from him never to follow him again because he told them that if they didn't eat his flesh and drink his blood that they had no life in them. They walked away because they said that his teaching was too hard. It was hard. Jesus never soft-sold the gospel in order to make the world comfortable, and to make the gospel more acceptable and appealing to the world so that they would not be offended by it. He offended lots of people with the truth, not just the religious leaders. Although it was the religious leaders who plotted his demise and who led the crusade in putting him to death, many of the people also joined in the chorus when they all sang "Crucify Him!"

    Yet, I agree with you wholeheartedly about what is going on inside the church and how it is going on unchecked while the same people who "put up with it easily enough" are ready to persecute the unsaved for their sins rather than reach out to them in love and to share with them the grace of God, which says "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions and teaches us to live godly, upright and self-controlled lives while we wait for Christ's return. I agree that many within the church are hypocritically and self-righteously condemning homosexuals while they play with sin themselves and while they allow it to go on unchecked within the church. And, that is wrong. Yet, in sharing the gospel, if we don't share the truth that Jesus and the apostles taught concerning sin and repentance and obedience, then we are selling the gospel short and we are doing a disservice to those whom we are trying to reach with a message of hope and healing. It is no grace and it is no hope if we don't lead sinners to turn from their sin.
  14. Absolutely!

    I am coming to think that if we go through the bible are not uncomfortable... Do not get a little worried or have our conceptions of God challenged - then we are not paying attention... We are not really thinking about what He is saying...

    The verse you cited about drinking his blood and eating his flesh... I have to say that I am still a little uneasy about this - but I have come to the conclusion that it is something I don't understand yet.... The bread and wine MEMORIALIZES the blood and flesh - but there is more to it...... Unfortunately - this has not been fully revealed yet....

    But think - The Jews have exactly the same trouble with Moses and The Law.... Think of the Bronze serpent - where Moses erects a graven image at the command of The Lord - and has people look towards it to be saved... Then - there's NO MORE explanation of what that's all about in the ENTIRE Old Testament.... It's not until John 3 that Jesus gives us a clue what the whole Bronze Serpent thing is all about....

    BUT - counter this with the lesson of "Putting new wine in new wine skins".... There are many truths that we have to learn through an experience to "Connect the dots of scripture" so to speak.. We can read about it - but it doesn't really sink in by just reading it.. For example - learning of God's pain over grumbling, accusation, infidelity, manipulation, and un-cooperation through Marriage and the pain we inflict on our spouses and that our spouses and kids inflict on us over the same...

  15. Thank you John for sharing these thoughts. Yes, there is a lot in scripture I still don't understand and that I don't yet have answers for, yet I am not afraid to admit that I don't know. As well, the more I read in scripture, the more I learn, and the greater my understanding becomes. God begins opening my eyes to truths I missed before and I have these moments of realization where it becomes more clear and the dots begin to connect, and then I understand, "Oh, that is why he said that." So, I get that for sure.

    As to the scripture I quoted about eating Jesus' flesh and drinking his blood, I always had trouble with that one. So, one day I just asked the Lord to help me understand it. I realized that the word "eat" has more than one meaning. It can also mean to partake or to participate in something. Then I thought about what his flesh and blood symbolized, and how they symbolize his blood that was shed for us on the cross and his body which was given for us in death so that we could be free. So, then it began to make sense. What he was telling them, I believe, is that, unless they participated in his death via death to sin (See Ro. 6-8), they had no life in them. He said similar words at other times. We have to die in order to live (Lu. 9:23-25; Ro. 6-8). Many people today don't like that message, either, and would cease following the Jesus of scripture if they truly understood that this was required of them. In fact, many of them are not really following the Jesus of the bible but one they have created in their own minds which fits better with their own lifestyles, and which doesn't teach the flesh and blood thing.

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