Posted by on August 21, 2017 in Blog, Discipline, Life Skills | 3 comments


I’m sure we’re all familiar with the term ‘Hypocrite’ and its meaning in today’s society. It is widely used to describe someone who pretends to be something which they are not, especially in order to deceive or gain respect or popularity. However, it is being used more and more to describe those who hold to Biblical truths against an ever-changing backdrop. Sadly, those who use the term to describe others are very often the ones who are more worthy of the title themselves.

So what is a hypocrite? Well, its origin goes back to early greek culture and meant ‘actor.’  Literally, it was a combination of two words –  ‘under’ and ‘interpret’.

Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. (Matthew 23:25)

When Jesus was a boy, growing up in Nazareth, he would most certainly have been aware of a large theatre built in the nearby town of Sepphoris, which was only 6km from Nazareth. There, actors staged plays and wore masks to portray the different characters. At the end of each play, the actors would remove their masks to reveal their true identity. The idea of acting under a mask would therefore be very familiar to that culture and Jesus’ use of the word was very accurate in describing the Scribes and Pharisees who would hide behind a mask of respectability and yet be found to be something very different in reality. For Jesus to then accuse them of being ‘hypocrites’ was like saying to them that they were just actors, rather than the real thing.

We need to be very honest with ourselves and ask if we could also be accused by Jesus of being a hypocrite. The world may well, and often does, accuse us of hypocrisy, but all that matters is what God thinks of us. We need to ask ourselves the following questions:

1. Do we hold other Christians to a standard which we do not ourselves maintain?

2. Do we feel superior at times to a weak Christian, but keep hidden our own weaknesses?

3. Do we change our behaviour depending on what company we keep?

In the event that we can honestly answer ‘Yes’ to any of these questions, then we too can quite legitimately be accused by God of hypocrisy.

Perhaps it’s safer to hide behind a mask, as life is more comfortable, but it’s time to take off our mask and let God deal with cleansing the inside of the cup as well as the outside. Only then will we be living in accordance with God’s commands. Let the world continue to call us hypocrites. They are the ones who change their behaviour in line with what is perceived to be popular, but we must ensure we stay faithful to the God who never changes and, at the end, all hypocrites will be seen to be what they are and receive God’s righteous judgement.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)


  1. Andrea, this is a very thought provoking post about judging others, comparing ourselves to others and wanting to be seen as better than them instead of comparing ourselves to Jesus and striving to be more like Jesus, I think. It is such an easy trap to fall into and I am guilty of hiding behind a mask of respectability. But, it is also very important to listen to other Christians who are trying to tell you about their difficulties in striving to be like Jesus and not to dismiss their concerns as an exaggeration because they seem to be so perfect and therefor can’t possibly have the fault they are describing.

    • You raise an interesting point, Sheila. Just as we should never imagine ourselves to be perfect (If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:18), neither should we expect it in others. (As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one…” Romans 3:10)

  2. Well, this is certainly a hard hitting post – and quite right too! It feels so close to what I’ve been studying in the Ten Commandments. We want to feel that we’re not guilty of breaking God’s law and yet the sad truth is that all too often we are. I think the same goes for hypocrisy. We’re quick to spot it in others and not so quick to see it in ourselves.

    The Bible has a lot to say about hypocrisy and none of it’s good! It’s such an ugly thing that involves deceit, pride and judging. It’s also linked to other unpleasant and sinful behaviours.

    So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. (1 Peter 2:1)

    I believe that one of many reasons why we need to come before God on a daily basis is to confess these sins and to seek His power in overcoming them.


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