What the Bible Says About Hypocrisy and Pretenders. My Experience
Hiding Behind a Mask
Hypocrites and Pretenders
People get really tripped up when they come across hypocrites and pretenders. The Bible has much to say about hypocrites who are like wolves dressed in sheep clothing. Here are just a few Bible references to ignite your thinking:
A Hypocrite Deceives Himself: James 1:22 "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves."
A Hypocrites Life Uncovers the Lie: Titus 1:16 "They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work."
A Hypocrite says one thing but their heart is cold: Matthew 15: 7-9 "You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”
As a new believer I was not prepared for the hypocrites and 'false' believers I would run into. In fact I almost lost my Faith when I saw it on my Christian College Campus. In my head I was thinking, "If this is what Christianity is, I want NO part of it!" That was before God gave me a special message which I still have written in my first Bible. The message: Keep your eyes off of people and keep them on me. People will fail you but I will never fail you. God assured me I would be okay if I kept my eyes on Him and off of people.
To set the stage, in sharing my own experience with hypocrisy and pretenders, I'd like to take you back first to the beginning days of my walk with Christ.
Jesus Loves Me
I grew up in a home where no mention of God or Jesus was ever made except as a swear word. We never went to Church and never knew people who did. I had heard the song, Jesus Loves me but had no clue who He was or what that meant.
As a child I struggled with a feeling of being lost. As a young teen a desperation set in as I wondered, "What am I here for and what is my purpose in life?" At age fourteen I prayed ... hoping there was a God. I asked if God were real He would reveal Himself to me. I had no clue how to find him.
In answer to that prayer, God took me through a year and opened my eyes to the depravity of man and the purposelessness of life apart from Him. After that grueling year, my best friend's Dad, Mr. Haworth, shared a story that my heart yearned to hear. He opened the Bible and spoke God's very words to me. As I listened, It was as if a bright light was turned on. I had been living my young years in darkness but that night - God's word gave me light and life. I learned the true meaning of that child's song called Jesus Loves ME!
Dad Hayworth led me to understand that God not only created me but that He loved me desperately and desired an intimate relationship with me. Through God's word I learned that He wanted me to be his child. It was sin that stood in the way between me and my Creator.
Dad Haworth explained many truths that night and with each one the eyes of my spiritual understanding were opened. Great JOY flooded my soul and His love washed all over me. One of the verses Dad read to me that night was: "Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me." John 14:6.
Through this verse, I understood that God's provision for me to know Him intimately and personally was in Jesus. God sacrificed His one and only son to pay the price for my sin. Why, because it was the ONLY way to redeem me from eternal separation from Him. This love was higher than any I had ever known. I eagerly accepted God's precious gift of salvation through Christ Jesus my Lord.
Though I was just a teenager I was filled with the deepest desire to really know God. I hungrily studied the Bible every day because I longed to learn more about who He was and what I needed to do to please Him and live my life for Him.
It was hard for me, in those days, reading the King James Version in Old style English... But as I searched the scripture and begged God to reveal Himself to me, He always gave me some nugget of truth to delight in and grow as His child.
It's so much easier for people today. There are many trusted translations written for our generation. The ESV; English Stand Version or the NIV; New International Version are two dependable translations. The Bible is God-breathed, it is his very word. You can get to know His will and his plan for the world and for you personally as you study it.
The God who created you loves you, pursues you and longs to give you eternal and abundant life.
Faith in Christ
The first person I shared my Faith in Christ with was my Mother. I was so excited to tell her about my decision to follow Jesus, that it just tumbled out of my mouth. I was shocked by my Mother's response. My typically easy going mom looked at me with dagger's in her eyes saying, "Don't you ever talk to me about this again, do you understand me!" I was shocked and confused by her response. I had always been able to talk about anything with my mom .. what was this reaction all about. I just wanted to tell her is that Jesus loves me and the He loved her too.
Years later and after my family had thoroughly scrutinized my every move, they decided that they liked the new me. As I drew near to God, He began to change me from within.
A couple of changes I remember from those days long ago was how He took my selfishness and taught me to think of others first, he took my big mouth and he taught me to ask forgiveness when I shot it off in anger. Yes, my family was watching and trying to figure out if this was a phase or if it was for real.
I learned later that my mom had been a victim to what I would call a Pretender .. either that or a crazy woman.
Mom explained that when she first heard me talk about God and Jesus she pictured an experience she had when she was a young woman.
One day as my mom was enjoying the warm sand at the beach she heard a loud announcement coming from a lady in a rowboat. This lady was screaming through a megaphone, "Repent you Sinners or you're going to Hell."
She kept screaming out the same message as she rowed up and down the lake. This weird happening was very disturbing to my mother and rightly so.
It was an ah-ha moment for me ... no wonder my poor mother responded as she did. She equated my Faith in Christ to the crazy pretender of the Faith on the lake. Of course, she did not want me to be like the megaphone lady in the rowboat.
One day my brother, who had teased and taunted me ... calling me little Miss Christian and Holy Roller etc., came to me and said, "okay Susie, I know I've given you a hard time .. but now I want to know why .. why have you chosen this life?" I was so happy that my brother let me tell him why I chose God .. I poured it all out sharing the love I have for God and for him.
The change I experienced, after asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, was dramatic and life-changing. All who knew me were witness to the fact that once I was just a regular teen-aged girl but now I was a dynamic, loving young woman who lived life out of a great love for God.
My First Church
After accepting God's gift of forgiveness and salvation I started going to an authentic Church filled with God's presence and people who lived out their faith.
I was15 years old, at the time and these people showed me Jesus love as they took me under their wing.
I had trouble, as a new believer understanding the Bible messages ... I felt they were way over my head. Lofty words and Bible reading from the King James text seemed from another time and place. In my struggle to understand God's word I did what came very natural to me now ... I talked to God about it. and He helped me grab nuggets of truth here and there.
I began to hunger for more. I asked Him what I was supposed to do next. I had taken the first step in my walk with God. I accepted Jesus sacrifice for my sins, I knew I was part of a new family (not born of flesh and blood but of the spirit) but I wanted more... "Lord, there must be more."
In answer to my prayer, God sent a young man to our Church to head up the youth group. Jake was a guy whose soul was caught up in the Love of God. He was genuine - he was the real deal! I saw Jesus love and passion being lived out in Jake. He had a pure love and holiness about him.
One discipline Jake instilled in me was Bible memorization. I was young and my memory was sharp. Jake knew what he was doing when he challenged the youth group to memorize scripture. He encouraged us to plant the seeds of God's word in our hearts. Jake knew that God's word would keep us from sin and the Holy Spirit would use it our whole lifetime to direct and lead us.
During my senior year of high school, God spoke to me and let me know he wanted me to get prepared to serve Him with the rest of my life. When I first heard his voice .. not literal but an inward drawing ... I was praying. I told God that I was ignorant of Christianity and the ways of God ... being a new Christian and all. Right then God spoke to me very softly but distinctly...He said, "I want you to go to the Bible College."
I had NO such plans before He spoke to me ... in fact, I planned to marry my high school sweetheart right after we graduated.
Hypocricy and Pretenders at Bible College
You cannot imagine the excitement and anticipation that filled my heart as I walked onto this College Campus. I could barely wait to meet other believers who loved God just like I did. I had envisioned Bible College as one big family growing in their walk with God.
It wasn't long before I realized that most of the students on campus were no different than the kids I went to high school with. There was nothing in their lives to indicate they knew Jesus in a personal way.
I began to pick up pieces of gossip and caddy attitudes. So many were just going through the motions and living a life of hypocrisy.... claiming to know Jesus yet living a life with no evidence of love or godliness.
I sat in classes with students and listened to their intellectual questions only to leave class and hear their godless conversations. I think what bothered me most was the absence of any discussion about God or the Christian walk.
Perhaps coming from a home without God made the contrast between a genuine believer and a pretender very clear to me. My life before Christ was so meaningless, self-centered and self-serving. Learning about God's plan for my life gave me a fresh perspective and it changed my life drastically.
The majority of kids on campus were not changed .. to say that I was disappointed would be a huge understatement. I almost lost my faith due to my focus on these pretenders and hypocrites.
I remember clearly the day I sat in the cafeteria on campus thinking ... if this is what Christianity is ... I want NOTHING to do with it." I was angry and outraged by all the hypocrisy swirling around me.
In that very moment, God's still small voice spoke to my heart. In fact, I wrote the words in my Bible because I knew it was a defining moment in my life. God said to me ... "Susie, people will fail you - I will NEVER fail you... Get your eyes off people and put them on me and you will never be disappointed." I breathed a sigh of relief as I prayed, "I got it Lord and thank you!"
Understanding that God wanted me to learn from Him and to keep my eyes off the pretenders and hypocrites was crucial to my deepening walk with Jesus.
I could have become bitter and resentful of hypocrites. I could have set myself on a pedestal as I looked down on the pretenders ... but then I too would be a hypocrite and a holier than thou ... good for nothing.
No, the hypocrite and the pretender were God's problem - not mine. I just needed to focus on Him.
After accepting God's word to me that day ... I began to find the genuine authentic believers on campus. They were there all the time ... but I allowed the hypocrites and pretenders to get in the way of finding them.
Hypocrites in the Church
Those of you who read my hubs know that I have been a Pastor's wife for most of my life. The fact that God spoke to me about pretenders and hypocrites was crucial and foundational, which I needed in place to be effective in the ministry.
Early on I understood there would always be hypocrites and pretenders in the world. It's a fact. They came to Church too. The devil uses pretenders and hypocrites to deter people from the truth. They are very well known for giving Christianity a BAD name.
Most often Pretenders are fooling themselves too. They go to Church thinking it will cover them as some kind of good deed. They mask their real person while in Church .. then live like the devil during the week.
In my years as a Pastor's wife, I have seen some of these hypocrites and pretenders brought to their knees in repentance. Although hypocrites deter people from God, my thought is, what better place for a hypocrite to be than in the Church?
I know that might sound strange, but If they attend an authentic Bible-believing church with sound teaching, and if they meet people who are genuine in their walk and talk ... then hypocrites and pretenders get a front row seat as they witness the real thing - God at work in His people. When the hypocrite and pretender come to Church ... God has the opportunity to speak their hearts and to put his searchlight on their darkened souls. They can change too.
Pray for Hypocrites and Pretenders
Yes, hypocrites and pretenders are everywhere in our world. Though we wish they would keep their mouths shut and stop hurting the cause of Christ ... they will not.
They need Him desperately but are blinded by religiosity. God loves everyone. He died for the hypocrite and the pretender too. They need our prayers and our compassion. They need to get to the place that they remove their mask so He can get to their hearts.
May God help each of us to keep our eyes fixed on Him and Him alone. People all around us will fail us. We are sinners, saved by grace, but Jesus never fails! Don't get sidetracked by hypocrites and pretenders .. pray for them ... Jesus died for them just like He died for you.
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© 2010 Susan Ream