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  • Writer's pictureTrey Talley

Can a Christian Be a Hypocrite?

Updated: Mar 25

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.

(1 Peter 2:1)

Peter had just told these Christians to love one another earnestly as they are now all born into the family of God. But even in a family that is supposed to be loving, there are enemies of love that must be fought against. Even in a local gathering of believers, like the church, the community can be negatively impacted by individuals who are not putting away their sinfulness.

Peter listed several individual sins that can affect a person’s ability to love one another as they should. These behaviors decrease love for one another rather than increasing it.

For now, we are going to just focus on “hypocrisy.” Hypocrisy was a way to describe a person in the theater who wore a mask to conceal their real identity. It had to do with a person pretending to be something that he or she was not. Jesus spoke much about hypocrisy. The Pharisees were notorious for pretending to be holy yet they were inwardly wicked to the core. One such example is this passage in Matthew:

25Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

27Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:25-28)

These scribes and Pharisees were only interested in looking good on the outside. Their purpose was to pretend to be holy for their audience. However, Jesus could see straight to their soul. He knew every sin that they had ever committed. He could see that they cared more about people’s view of them than God’s.

What about Christians? Can we be hypocritical as well?

Most of the time, we see hypocrisy in reference to non-believers, the unsaved. However, Peter is writing specifically to believers in this passage.

Yes, even a Christian can wear a mask of holiness. Christians are often guilty of washing the outside but ignoring the sin within. A Christian’s hypocrisy cannot be to the extent of a non-believer’s hypocrisy, as in the case of the Pharisees. However, a Christian may desire to be seen as someone they are not. Perhaps they want to be seen more holy and less sinful than they are in real life. These types of masks are worn often, even among fellow Christians.

Such hypocrisy is a sin, and it is an enemy of growing love among a community of believers. Such a person cannot genuinely love others because they are consumed with pretending and keeping up his or her fake persona. At the same time, other believers cannot love such a person as needed, because all they see is the pretend person. They end up loving the actor, not the person. They end up not meeting any needs of the actor because the person underneath the mask is not transparent with his or her needs before the Christian community.

Thousands attend church each Sunday with fresh haircuts, makeup, smelling good, looking good, a smile on their faces, and Bible in hand; yet, their insides are polluted with unconfessed and unrepentant sin. They attend church with their mask, pretending that everything is perfect; but God sees right through to their heart. They look good for all to see, pretend that they need nothing, then they leave church, return to their homes, remove their masks, and return to their sins. This should not be, this cannot be, God commands us not to pretend to be holy, but “Be holy as I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).

God knows every detail about you. If you have sin in your life, confess it to God, and turn from it. If you need help doing so, seek help from those around you. Draw on them for support and accountability. Be genuine so that you can love others in need and so that people can see your need and love you, as well.

Dr. Trey Talley, Lead Pastor and Elder

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