Romans 2:21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? (NKJV)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
In the 2nd chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul is condemning the Jews for hypocrisy. He tells them that since they have the Law, but don’t obey it, even while judging others by it, they are condemning themselves. Paul clearly and forcefully states:
- Hypocrites won’t escape God’s judgment – v. 3
- God will judge each man according to his deeds, regardless of whether or not he belongs to the right “religious” group – v.6
- Those who are self-centered will receive anguish and trouble – v.8
- Those who do what is good, according to God, will receive glory and honor – v.10
- Sinners that don’t know God specifically, will still perish for violating God’s divine law written on their hearts – v.12
- Sinners who know God, will perish for violating the revealed law of God – v.12
- God will judge men by the secret motives of their heart – v.16
Starting in verse 17 Paul begins a line of thought that goes something like this:
“You Jews brag about how much you know God’s mind and boast about how you are qualified to tell everyone else how to live Godly lives; yet, you don’t even live that way yourselves. Why don’t you teach yourself what you claim to teach others. You tell everyone else not to steal or commit adultery, but you do it all time. You brag about being a Jew, but you bring shame on God by your hypocrisy!”.
Fast forward 2000 years to the current religious climate we have today. Across the board, even in fundamental, evangelical churches, there is precious little that would differentiate the church member’s lifestyle from the unsaved’s. Now, before I get inundated with email, I KNOW that there are exceptions to this rule. Many of them. But in general, this fact is hardly arguable to any obvious degree.
Do you know what hypocrisy is? It’s claiming to be different, but not acting different.
We find ourselves in almost exactly the same situation that Paul addressed in Romans 2. Replace the references to “Jews” with “Christians”, and for clarity, think of the “Gentiles” as the “unbelievers”. From verses 1-24 in chapter 2, see if the indictment does not ring just as true for we who have God’s Truth today (Christians), as it did for those who had God’s truth 2000 years ago (Jews):
- It is inexcusable Christians, that you judge the unsaved by God’s Word, but you don’t keep it yourself
- God will judge everyone equally on whether they LIVED God’s Word, not just if they knew it
- Those who have God’s Word but don’t live by It, act like they hate God, who is very patient in giving us time to repent
- God will judge each person by what they have done, regardless of what religious group they belong to
- Everyone who is self-centered and disobedient, will feel the wrath of God
Paul goes on to say the God’s name is blasphemed among the godless because of people who claim to know God, but don’t live accordingly, which brings us back to the point about hypocrisy. Consider the modern church:
- We teach modesty and yet the sensuality of clothing on Christians is barely discernable from the world
- We teach purity and yet sexual immorality is epidemic, even in the Church
- We teach standards of righteous communication and yet cursing, general profanity, and course joking aren’t even hardly noticed anymore
- We teach financial integrity and priorities but according to statistics, Christian give just a pittance more than nonChristians to “charities”
- We teach hope, love, contentment and joy but our Churches are filled with all the disorders, depression, gossip and strife found in any worldly organization
and the most hypocritical of all:
- We teach that our mission is to share the Gospel and make disciples of all men and yet statistics show that only 1-2% of Christians will specifically share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with even one person this year; and even less will actively disciple (train, teach) anyone.
Am I saying we need to draw up some checklists and get the Behavior Police and Modesty Squad on patrol? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! That is the stuff of legalism, spiritual bondage and immaturity. Am I saying that ALL Christians, and ALL churches are guilty of this hypocrisy? NO. But let’s get real folks… quit being defensive. It doesn’t take a spiritual giant to go out among our protestant churches and its members to see that there is typically very little that differentiates the life of a typical Christian from that of an average non-believer (other than church attendance). To argue against that is to simply ignore reality. (And I speak of life in western culture primarily; I have no experience to speak of for other cultures)
No amount of external constraint will
change a problem with the heart.
What I am saying is that hypocrisy is a sign of spiritual sickness. Spiritual sickness is internal and can only be cured by turning to the Great Physician. Our culture is moving towards “the days of Noah” when every person ate and drank and lived the “good life”. We are moving towards (or have arrived at) the “Laodicea church”, the “lukewarm church”:
Revelation 3:14-22 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ’ ” (NKJV;emphasis mine)
What’s the answer? Find out what God says. Obey God. Change your life. Conform yourself to the image of Christ. Deny the world. Share the Gospel of Jesus to a lost and dying world. Be different. Stand out. Uncover your light and let it shine before men.
Lord, Help us to live what we teach. Help us to be “hot” for the Truth. Help us to never be hypocritical, but to live each and everything we believe or teach. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Contemplation: Are you hot or cold or lukewarm? Do you understand why “lukewarmness” is so disgusting to God? Does your life match what you believe?
Application: Read Revelation 3:14-22 over again. Meditate on what the Lord meant by:
“Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”
How much of this applies today? How much does it apply to you?
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?