Hypocrisy is a complex topic because we all are hypocrites at some point in our lives. Even the Apostle Paul confessed his struggle to the Romans:
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). That sounds a little bit like hypocrisy, doesn’t it? It’s a struggle we all have, so Peter, in his spiritual weight loss program, tells us to: “put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1).
Do you remember Jesus warning his disciples about “wolves in sheep’s clothing”? (Matthew 7:15). I wonder about them. Do they know they are wolves or do they just believe they are sheep with an insatiable taste for mutton? The key is to examine our actions – our thoughts can deceive us and make excuses. If you have wool stuck between your teeth, chances are you’re not a sheep!
Likewise, James, the brother of Jesus, warns of Christians who are “double-minded.” They have two souls (James 1:8). Those poor people want to be citizens of the new world, but they also want to continue to live in the old. The early Christians pointed to Lot’s wife as the perfect example of a double-minded person. She desired to stay in Sodom, but she also wanted to be saved, so she fled with her family. Unfortunately, there was a war going on in her mind. She was trying to hold on to two different values, and, ultimately, she was turned into a pillar of salt. What’s the cure? James tells us to “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:8). Notice how James links both actions, “cleanse your hands,” and thoughts, “purify your hearts.” Purifying your heart means learning to focus. In James’ words, “Draw near to God.”
Finally, my grandmother was right. As repulsive as hypocrites are, “Johnny if you’re letting a hypocrite come between you and God, he’s closer to the Lord than you are!”