This is the final part of a three-part series on the perils of hypocrisy. You can read the previous articles by clicking on the following links:
Hypocrisy is a dangerous labor that undermines the basic structures of society, breaking down trust and destroying relationships. It is an endeavor that Christians are not immune from, and it threatens the opportunities we have to build a testimony for God’s glory. Observing such a threat requires preparation, defense, and action.
Hypocrisy thrives when belief and behavior do not match. With this diagnosis, the treatment seems pretty simplistic: ensure that each conforms to one another. However, the answer is not so effortless, for it were so, then hypocrisy would have been easily eradicated years ago. Instead, the treatment requires a lifestyle change that must come from being transformed inwardly so that it may be seen outwardly. Anything that involves an inward transformation necessitates discipline motivated by purpose and intention.
Scripture encourages conduct that is contrary to the expression of hypocrisy. Therefore, diving into the word will reveal a general character that Christians should embody that will protect against the permeation of hypocrisy in their own lives. Consider the following lessons:
- Be Humble (Philippians 2:3-4): All aspects of personal growth begin with humility. It causes a person to examine himself with a genuine heart and allows that person to make corrections to deficiencies and imperfection.
- Delight, Study, & Respond to the Word (Psalm 1:1-3; Ezra 7:10): First, believers are to delight the word of God. When one delights in the word, he or she elevate to a position of authority, which results in spending time with it, meditating upon it, allowing it to transform, and finally by responding to it by conforming one’s inward attitudes and outward actions to it.
- Know What You Believe (1 Peter 3:15): Peter writes for believers to be prepared to give a defense, something that cannot be done it a person has no concept of what they are defending. What good is meditating upon the word if one does not take the time to know it intimately?
- Set Your Mind on the Things Above (Colossians 3:1-2): The word directs believers to Christ, who is seated above at the right hand of God.
- Transform Your Mind (Romans 12:2): What goes into the mind will come out in a person’s life. For this reason, Paul urges believers to be transformed by the renewing of their minds. Truth transforms, and thus, the Word (Scripture and Christ) should have a transformative impact upon a person’s life.
These simple behaviors are basic principles that, with the work of the Holy Spirit, enable a transformed life that does more than create a diversion from hypocrisy, it glorifies God.
However, the basic principles are meaningless if they do not extend from essential fundamentals that are firmly rooted in a believer’s life. In the midst of urging believers to be prepared to give a defense (1 Peter 3:15), he writes first, “But in your hearts regard Christ as holy.” All attitudes and actions will find their source in what a person thinks about Christ. A high view of Christ is reflected in a high standard of living, motivated by a love for God. This is why Peter can write of a believer’s behavior (1 Timothy 3:15-17) only after he writes to regard Christ as holy (verse 15a). Belief in Christ reflects the behavior of a Christian. The author of Hebrews goes further, urging believers not only to regard Christ as holy but to hold fast to one’s confession of hope without wavering (Hebrews 10:23). Our confession of Christ as savior causes us to look to the future with anticipation, not of heavenly rewards, but of a hope of eternity in the presence of our Savior. Into his presence, with boldness (and without guilt), we enter, not because of our service but because of his sacrifice. In light of who Christ is and who we are with Christ, we draw nearer to God (Hebrews 10:22).
How is that the threat of hypocrisy is neutralized in a person’s life? By regarding Christ as holy, holding firm to one’s faith of a future hope, and drawing nearer to God.
Photo “The Egg” courtesy of user Shaojin Alitano Tio and Flickr.