Hope for the Sincere Hypocrite

Scripture: Job 8:13, Matthew 15:7-9, Matthew 23:4
Date: 03/11/2000 
We have all been hypocrites, pretending to be what we are not. God wants us to be genuine Christians. Hypocrites are often afraid. Hypocrisy is contagious.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Morning. Happy Sabbath. You know, I sort of have a hobby of collecting oxymorons. And whenever I find a new one I run home and I write it down. I've got a list that's been over time. Added a couple more this last week. I won't read the whole list to you, but I'll share a few which you. You all know what an oxymoron is? First time I heard someone talk about that I thought, “What's that?” An oxymoron, of course, is a couple of words paired together that really are opposites. They don't belong together, but they're usually found in statements together. They're usually humorous because they contradict each other. Like government productivity. Instant water, what do you add? Black light. A working vacation. A light heavyweight. Some are better than others. Criminal justice. Good grief. Civil war. Objective opinion. Small fortune. Inside out.

Military intelligence, that's one of my favorites. A resident alien. Freezer burn. Random order. Elevated subway. They actually have that in New York. An uninvited guest. A dry lake. Silent alarm. Mercy killing. A holy war. Recorded live. Tight slacks. Politically correct. Civil disorder. Airline food. Honest politician. And my favorite was, female driver. I didn't say I made them up. I just said I save them. First person to grab me at the door gets to keep this because I've got it on my computer at home. Well, the reason that we've got that list there is you may have noticed in the sermon title, Sincere Hypocrite, Hope for the Sincere Hypocrite. Well, a sincere hypocrite is, of course, an oxymoron. But we need to hope there's hope for the sincere hypocrite because if we would all be honest, there are times when we have all played the hypocrite.

Am I right? Maybe we should begin with a definition so we know what we're talking about. Hypocrisy, the practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues one does not really hold or possess. Falseness, playacting, wearing a mask, making pretense, pretend. And it comes from the Greek word where in their plays they would put on a mask to represent the different people they were hoping to convey. They didn't have all the expensive special effects that they have for productions today. Hypocrisy. There are varying degrees of hypocrisy. We need to know, the Lord feels very strongly about this subject because Christ began His ministry by addressing the importance of being genuine. Exposing hypocrisy. He was especially angry about religious hypocrisy. He condemned the religious leaders who prayed to be seen of men, made a pretense. They gave and they blew the trumpets, so everybody would look and they would think they’re generous, to be seen of men. They fasted and they'd disfigure their faces so that they would look like they were in agony and starving.

There was, I guess, a pious credibility that came with that. To be seen of men. Pretentious, false. Now we've all done it. And we all do it, in varying degrees. We dye our hair. Why? No, I don't call, but some do. And I'm not here to condemn. If I had it I'd dye it. I may dye my mustache someday. Because we want to appear younger. I'm not saying that's something the Lord is condemning. I'm just saying that we all try to alter appearances. And cosmetics. If you're a little overweight, and you want to look thinner, what colors do you wear? Light or dark? You all know that, don't you? To create the illusion, if nothing else, of taking up less volume. We're trying to convey something that may not be a reality. Have you ever been on the phone and pretended you're listening to someone and you really don't want to? Have you ever politely told a person that you're busy when you really weren't because you didn't want to talk to them? And a lot of times in our communications and the things we do and our body language, we're not communicating the truth.

It's hypocrisy, falsehood. Now having said that, I don't want to leave you hopeless. The Bible offers hope for the hypocrite, but not all the hypocrites. Just the sincere ones. Job 8:13, it's just one verse. Job 8:13, “So are the paths of all who forget God, and the hope of the hypocrite shall perish.” The hope of the hypocrite shall perish. Well, what about us? Is there hope for us? You know, there's varying degrees of hypocrisy. I venture to say that there are times when it's probably acceptable not to say everything you're thinking. There are times when the phone rings not to say, “Mom is in the bathroom,” and go into great detail. But to say, “She's not available right now.” I mean, there are times when it is appropriate, and it's considered polite, not to just blab all the details about every situation you might be thinking. This is not what the Lord's talking about when He talks about being honest and genuine. You and I have all met people that are forthright or too forthright to the point of being obnoxious. Our God would have us be gracious.

And even for a Christian, there is a time to be diplomatic. And you can still be diplomatic and to be honest and not be a politician. You know in the Bible, Pontius Pilate asked that question, “What is truth?” He's a politician, wasn't he? And now we’re entering again that phase that comes once every four years where we must offend our senses by listening to all these all editions, who advertise as they go from place to place, “I really like you. I want to be like you and I want to do what ever you want me to do to make you happy.” I want to get an audience shot right here for those in the studio. I want to take the survey. How many of you believe that politicians are sometimes dishonest? Let me see your hands. Hold up your hands. Are you still going to vote? Hold up your hands, those of you who plan on voting. So what we're doing is we're kind of holding our nose and vote, right? Is that the process? A lot of hypocrisy in the world and it's almost accepted. Job 20:5, “The triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment.”

Could it be, that's what Jesus was talking about when He said, “The scribes and the Pharisees that fast to be seen, and they give to be seen, and they pray to be seen. They do have a reward, but their reward is of men. That's the only reward they get. It doesn't last long. If you want an eternal reward than we must be genuine. You know, Christ said, “Blessed are the pure in heart.” And you know, you first read that pure in heart, that almost sounds like those who do not think dirty thoughts. But could it be the Lord is saying, “Blessed are the true in heart, blessed are the honest in heart”? The ones who are genuine, authentic, unpretentious? You know, there are some people who, that I like, and they're not always diplomatic, and their speech is not always eloquent. Sometimes they might be a little rough around the edges in the way they communicate, not always graceful. But I like them because you don't have to guess what they're thinking. They're very honest about letting you know. I appreciate that. My grandmother’s that way. I remember one time, my grandmother was over visiting.

I was with some friends and she just shared a little bit of her honest opinion. You've got to know her. But she doesn't hold back, she says exactly what she's thinking. And when she left, I was so afraid my friends were offended. They said, “I like her.” I said, “You do?” “Yeah, you know exactly what she's thinking.” Which is true. Grandma was very good about saying what other people would think, but would never dare to say. That's what got Jesus killed. Matthew 15:7-9, Christ speaking to the religious leaders, He said, “hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy about you saying, these people draw near to meet with their mouths, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. And in vain they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” You know, I understand that on the Italian Riviera it's so important that you have a balcony on your house that the people there hire these very skilled artists to paint the façade of a balcony on the outside of their house if they don't have one.

If they can't afford one they paint one up there. And they even go so far as to paint the flowerpots and they paint the laundry drying on these phony balconies. You know what I'm talking about? That's a façade. That's hypocrisy. Trying to communicate something that's there that isn't really there. And the Lord tells us in His word that one of the condemnations of this age is that there are a lot of people who say, “Lord, Lord.” They draw near with their mouth, but their hearts really are not with God. What does the Lord want? Does He want our words first, or does He want our hearts first? “Blessed are the pure in heart.” You know, turn with me in your Bibles to the book of Daniel. I just want to talk for a moment about truth. I'm going to be hopping around here a little bit. Turn with me to Daniel 8. When we study prophecy, you know, we sometimes talk about the beast power, and the exploits of that beast power. In verse 12 it says, “Because of transgression an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifice.”

And here that power is characterized as, “he casts the truth to the ground.” And he does all this. “He practice and he prospers.” Could it be that it's not just talking about casting to the ground the different articles of doctrinal truth? The truth about the Trinity, or baptism, or the Sabbath, the commandments and the different point of doctrinal truth. But one of the characteristics of the beast power and those that follow that beast is that they don't have truth in their heart, because they're hypocrites. It's hypocrisy. You know, the Bible speaks and Thessalonians about the beast power, and those that follow the beast. It says, “Because they receive not a love of the truth.” A love of the truth, “and so for this reason God sends them strong delusion they should believe a lie.” God wants us to love the truth, to be genuine, to be honest.

Now, we’re going to look in the Bible at some examples of people who struggled with this problem of hypocrisy, and they got the victory. And that offers hope for you and me. I heard one time, and I don't think it's a true story, but I read it somewhere, about these two masked men, went into a congregation with submachine guns, dressed in black. And they stood back-to-back up on the platform, and they said, “Nobody move. All right, all of those of you who are willing to take a bullet now for Jesus stay in your seats. The rest of you are dismissed.” And the people began to run out the doors. The choir ran off the platform. Pretty soon out of 2000 people there's only 20 left. These two men then pulled their masks off and said to the pastor who was still sitting there, he said, “Okay Pastor, you can start the service now. We eliminated the hypocrites.”

You know, in Russia, during the time of the communist oppression, they really did have a problem with. Mark Finley even talked about this a little bit last night during the Acts 2000 program. They had a problem with KGB informants spying on and turning in the different Christians that would meet. And I remember hearing the story about this one group, where about 20 people were meeting in a basement. They were having a little service and praying and singing, and pretty soon they heard a pounding on the door. And they opened up the door and there were a couple of soldiers there with guns. And they said, “OK, you know this is an illegal meeting. And we're going to execute those of you who persist in believing in this God that does not exist. You’re fools. Now those of you who will now renounce Jesus, you can leave alive. But those of you who persist in believing, you're going to be shot.” It's a true story. And they began to tremble and look at each other and one by one, about half the group filed out the door. And after they filed out the door.

The soldiers came in and they shut the door, and they said, “We are Christians also. We knew that there were KGB spies here, and this was the only way to get them out.” A real Christian is going to lay down his life for his relationship to the Lord. You know why it's important that we get the victory over hypocrisy? Hypocrisy, of course, is dishonesty. And today is going to come where every Christian is going to lay, is going to need to lay his life on the line in defense of the truth. And every time we wear the mask of the hypocrite, we are in some degree, compromising the truth. And it makes it easy for us to ultimately deny the truth. That's why we need to pray that God will help us get the victory over this hypocrisy. Matthew 23:4, Jesus speaking of the religious leaders and the lawyers in particular.

He said, for they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be born, and they lay them on men's shoulders. But they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men. They make broad their phylacteries,” those were the blue borders on their garments that were a symbol of loyalty to God’s law. And once they realized that whoever had the blue border, they were saying, “I'm loyal to the law of God.” This was in the Levitical law that they hem their garments with blue. It's a sign of loyalty to the law of God. So, you know, one priest had a little blue line around his sleeves and his hems. And the other one said, “Well, I'm more loyal than him.” And so he made his a little longer. [?] Said, “Well, I'm more loyal than they are.”

So he made his longer and put tassels on it. Pretty soon they're wearing these long blue, almost the whole garment’s blue because they're trying to show, “I'm more loyal than you are. Look how broad my phylacteries are.” The borders of their garments. And they would wear little modules on their headbands that had the Ten Commandments in them, and made them wide for everybody to see. And then it goes on here and it says, “and they enlarged the borders of their garments. They love the uppermost rooms at the feasts and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.” They wanted all the trappings of respect, and honor of men. And they made the religion seem very austere and difficult because, of course, that's always more pious. But they weren't willing to keep the very laws they were putting on everybody else. I've got to be careful what I say. You know, I went to meet with a home group. They don't go to church anymore because the church is Babylon.

Church is too worldly. But they do meet in homes each week. And they have these bundles of books that they carry. They study all the intricacies and the nuances of the words and the prophets and the spirit of prophecy. And they talk about the worldliness in the church and all the compromise. And I agree, there is lots of apostasy. [comment on button] But the interesting thing is, I came out of that meeting. Now I know several of the people in that meeting. And they smoke, and they watch anything on TV, and they've got these problems in their lives, but they get together once a week and they bind burdens on men that they're not willing to bear. It's a pretense of the holiness and being sanctimonious and pious. It's all a sham. And I'll say, “How many people have you brought to the Lord?” “Uh, nobody. Haven't brought anybody to the Lord.” It's real easy to be critical, hoping to assume an air of being religious. And they're not always one and the same. You know, I remember when I was a kid, my brother had a Volkswagen Bug.

How many of you had Volkswagen Bugs as your first car? Let me see your hands. There's quite a few of you. You learned how to do mechanic work, didn't you? It's amazing what you can do with a little baling wire, duct tape, bubble gum. My first car was a Volkswagen Bug. And I almost went crazy looking for the radiator one day. “I'm sure you're supposed to check the water in the radiator,” and I couldn't find it. Then I realized they were air-cooled. And then later the thing wasn't running right, and someone said, “Well, have you been taking care of the oil?” And so I went to check the oil and I checked, and I saw that the oil was low. I didn't realize that the purpose of the dipstick was to fill it just to the little F on the dipstick. I thought you were supposed to pour the oil in, this was my first car, I thought you were supposed to pour the oil in until it ran out, that meant that it was full. They said, “Is the oil full?”

I said, “I don't know. It was low.” And so I kept pouring in, and I put like 8 quarts in this little Volkswagen until I could see it running out the little spout there. I was driving down the road and black smoke was billowing out. I blew all the seals out in the car. Anyway, but my brother's first car was also a Volkswagen Bug. Back then, they sold these; the company made these fiberglass hoods for the Volkswagens that looked like a Rolls Royce. How many of you remember that? And so, you could look like you were driving a Rolls Royce. It was really just a fiberglass hypocrite, is what it was. It was trying to give you the illusion that you had either a Rolls Royce or they had another one that looked like a Mercedes, or one of these expensive cars. But it was a Volkswagen with a fiberglass facade on it. Now, sometimes we wear masks to try and convey the idea that we are more holy than others. I went to the party store this week. It's really hard to find masks when it's not Halloween. It's a shame when the pastor has to go to to keep people’s attention.

You remember Annanias and Sophira? They wanted to make an offering to the Lord at church. And essentially what they did is, they said, “We're going to sell our property and give everything. Going to empty our wallet. See that? Emptying the wallet. Here you go, we're giving everything.” But what they didn't know, just like me, they've got a secret compartment inside. That's so if I get robbed they take my money, but let me keep my kids’ pictures. Keep the small change up there for everybody to see, but they're hiding the rest. They wanted to appear generous, to appear holy. Have you ever done that? You bring your Bible to church, you never read it during the week, but by virtue of carrying a Bible gives you the illusion. And you know, there's a way to do that, too. It gives you the illusion of looking holy. Hypocrites, is with the Lord calls this. What did God do to an Annanïas and Sophira? They dropped dead. So I'm not going to wear this much longer. You know, I understand that dogs sometimes when you live up in the country, will be given over to sheep killing.

Some of you know what I'm talking about. Sometimes they do it with chickens. During the day these dogs are so well behaved so congenial. At night they go out with packs, and they kill and eat sheep. Sometimes they don't even eat them. They just kill them. And people who have trained dogs and studied them say it's like a fever. And it really changes their behavior. At night they become vicious and violent, and they run with a pack. And they slink home before the sun comes up. And then during the day, they are the most obedient, cooperative of dogs. Because even dogs are intelligent enough to know that you try and mask bad behavior by compensating with a little additional good behavior. We don't ever do that, do we? I can always tell. Is Nathan awake?

I can always tell, sometimes I’ll walk downstairs and Nathan will go, “Hi Dad!” And I'll think, “He's doing something he's not supposed to do.” And sure enough, you do a little bit of investigating, you'll find out he's been in the kitchen and he's gone into mischief or been climbing on the cupboards or he is playing with something that doesn't belong to him. Because when he starts going out of his way to seem polite and cooperative then I'm thinking, “He’s trying to cover.” Isn't it a shame how early they learn this behavior? And what bewilders me is I don't know where he's learning it. Couldn't be from me, could it? Must be from mom. You know, one thing I have discovered is you can sometimes fool the whole world, but you can't fool your kids. If you're a Christian, first place. It's going to be seen is at home.

First place your hypocrisy is going to be noticed is at home. And I should also state for the record and for the Lord, I am talking to myself once again today. We all play the part of the hypocrite. Hypocritical menus. I understand that there is a very successful French restaurant, I think it was in New York City, that the proprietor has two menus. He's got the menu with the real modest prices and then he's got the menu that has these very inflated prices. Same dishes on both menus. And a young man wants to take his girlfriend, or his fiancée to this restaurant and he'll sit down and the chef will give the menu with the very inflated prices to the girl, and he gives the affordable prices that will actually be paid to the man. And so she looks at the menu and she's going, “You want to eat here?” “No price too high. For you, anything.

Get what you want.” And he starts saying, “Yeah, I'll take one of these,” you know the real expensive things on her menu, “and one of these and two or three of these.” Make a big impression. They're doing booming business. It's a hypocrite menu, trying to communicate that they're much more generous than they really are. Aesop said, “I will have naught to do with a man who can blow hot and cold at the same time.” He also said, “Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth.” And sometimes we are much more preoccupied with the outside show than the inner worth.

Part of the reason for this is there is a war that is raging in each one of our lives between the spirit and the flesh. We've got a battle going on inside between the two. We want to be loved, but we are more concerned about being loved by the real creatures that we see than a spiritual God that’s invisible. And so in order to get the approbation of those that are around us because we're carnally minded, we become very preoccupied with doing and saying and behaving in such a way that will win the approval of those around us. One reason we're sometimes hypocritical is because we're afraid of being rejected. But I'll get to that in just a minute.

The war between the spirit and the flesh. Romans 8:7-8, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the will of God, neither indeed can be.” James 4:1, “from whence come fightings and war among you? Do they not come even hence from the lusts that war in your members?” We've got this war going on inside between the spirit and the flesh. And that pans out to, that plays out to, who are we going to please? Are we going to try and live for and please the physical world that we see, the tangible people around us? Or are we going to live for and please the God who sees our heart? That's the real issue. II Peter 2:11, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from the fleshly lusts that war against the soul.” There's a war going on inside. We all want to be loved. We all want to be accepted.

We want to fit in. And so we wear our masks in order to do so. Now, probably one of the principal reasons that people wear masks is because we're afraid. We're afraid of doing the wrong thing or saying the wrong thing or we're afraid that if we don't behave a certain way we're going to be punished. Men, have you ever had your wife ask you, “Do I look fat in this dress?” Do you know that it is impossible to answer that question without losing. And if you say nothing, you lose. Have you, no, I won't ask for a show of hands. How many times have you ever said something to your spouse, in order not to offend them you were less than honest? Not asking for a show of hands, thank you. I'll take your silence as assent. I Samuel, here's one example of hypocrisy. We're going to look at a few from the Bible.

Sometimes we wear a mask because we're afraid. I Samuel 21:10, “Then David arose and he fled that day from before Saul, and he went to Achesh, king of Gath. And the servants of Achesh said to him, is this not David, king of the land? Did they not sing of him to one another in dances saying, Saul has slain his thousands and David his 10 thousands?” Now David, he went to Achesh and he thought that word had spread that Saul was angry with him. And here the servants of Achesh, king of the Philistines. I mean, David had killed Goliath. I mean, here he's got Goliath's iron sword around his waist, their champion, and he goes and flees to the Philistines for refuge. And they say, “Isn’t that Goliath’s sword, and you're coming to us for refuge? Aren’t you the one that they were singing about your killing 10,000 Philistines? What are you doing here?”

Suddenly David realized the folly of the fleeing to the Philistines for refuge. And he thinks, “I'm a dead man.” And so, he did something very clever, but very dishonest, to save himself. It says, “And David, when he heard these things he took it to heart, and he was very much afraid of Achesh, the king of Gath, so he changed his behavior before them, and he feigned madness in their hands. And he scratched the doors of the gate,” he's clawing on the doors, “and he let saliva fall down,” he's foaming at the mouth, drooling in his beard. And then Achesh said to his servants, “You see this man is insane. Why have you brought him to me?”

You know, in the Middle Eastern culture there they sort of had an unwritten law, they had a few of them. One of them is, when someone comes into your home for refuge you protect them. Another one is that you are not supposed to afflict or torment people who were sick, blind, mentally ill. You're not supposed to take advantage or hurt them. And so David pretended that he was crazy. He was wearing a mask. This is called pure hypocrisy. Why did he do it? He's afraid. I have a friend, when I lived in New York City. He wasn't very big, but he was very eloquent. And sometimes when you're in the park we'd run into another gang of kids that wanted to engage you in a fight. And this kid, this friend of mine used to really impress me.

He would put on the air that he was not afraid of anybody, that he was a master martial arts expert. And that he was so bold about, “OK, who's first? I'm going to take you all on. You want to get hurt? You’re first. Come on over here right now. Who's next?” And they were so intimidated by his bold behavior. He couldn't fight at all to save his life, but he would feign that he was a martial arts expert. And I guess he looked like he knew what he was doing. He couldn't fight. But he was scared to death and so he'd pretend he could fight. Acting, playing, so that he could cover up because he was scared.

Now, sometimes we're not total hypocrites like David was there. Sometimes we're only half hypocrites. We're partly true. We tell a half-truth. And of course, if. This isn't distracting, I hope. OK, let's read this together. Genesis 2:2, now Abraham goes to Egypt and he flees there because there's a famine. “And he says to Sarah, his wife, she is my sister.” Was she his sister? She was half, his sister. But if you're telling a half-truth what's the other half? You know, I can kind of feel this thing pulling my nose off to the left. Genesis 26:7, “Then the men of the place asked about his wife, and he said, she's my sister.” “How you doin' sis?”

Grabs her by the head and gives her a noogie. Trying to act like she’s; she was his wife. A half-truth. It's not the only time in the Bible that we see that happening. You know, because of Abraham's bad example, what did his son Isaac later do when he fled to Egypt? Same thing. He said, “Rebecca, she's my sister.” Why did he do it? Why did Abraham lie about Sarah? He was afraid. He was afraid they were going to take his wife. Why did Isaac lie? He was also afraid. “She's my sister.” Another example where people are less than honest because they’re afraid. Now these are God's people. Abraham, David. Genesis 18:12, “Therefore Sarah laughed within herself,” now you remember the context of this story. Abraham is sitting outside the tent, under a tree.

He's talking to the Lord, Himself, who was with two angels. The angels are on their way to Sodom to execute judgment on the city. And the Lord is talking to Abraham, and He gives him the promise that even though Abraham had lost faith and had already taken another wife, Hagar, and he had a son. He said, “No no. That’s not him. Sarah, your wife, is going to have a child.” Sarah is pushing 90 years of age at this point. So Sarah hears this and she laughs within herself. She doesn't laugh out loud. “Saying, after I've grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” She giggles thinking about this. But she doesn't do it out loud. And the Lord says to Abraham. The Lord and Abraham are talking outside the tent. “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, surely, I will bear a child since I am old?

Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time, I will return to you according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. But Sarah denied it saying, I did not laugh. For she was afraid. And he said, No, but you did laugh.” Was she telling the truth? Did she laugh out loud? No. Where did she laugh? In her heart. And she said, “I didn't laugh.” And God said, “You did laugh.” How could God say that? What was God judging by? The outward act or the inward thought? So where does hypocrisy come from? When we are saying one thing that technically might be true, but in our heart we're communicating something that isn't true, is it truth? Doesn't the Lord say that it's the inside of the cup that needs cleansing? In our hearts sometimes we believe one thing, and with our mouths, we say another that might technically be accurate.

I've done it, friends. And I've been convicted that it’s wrong. God wants us to be honest in our hearts. Peter, he is exhibit A in hypocrite. Now that's good news for you and me because if there's hope for Peter, there's hope for you and me. Amen? Matthew 26:34-35, “And Jesus said unto him, verily I say unto thee, this night before the cock crows thou will deny me three times,” thrice. “And Peter said to Him, though I should die with thee, yet I will not deny thee. Likewise, said also all the disciples.” Now, here's the question. Was Peter sincere? I think when he made that statement he really believed that he was willing to die for the Lord. And one reason, I know that is later when the soldiers did come and they began to take Jesus to tie Him up, who pulled out a sword? It was Peter, to fight. [end side one]

… launched the attack himself. But he didn't know his own heart. He didn't think he was capable of denying the Lord because he thought he was willing to die for Him. You know, Peter would have been willing to die in battle, but not from ridicule. He didn't know his weakness. Matthew 26:74, after they began to mock Jesus, and He was not popular any more, then the servants there in the temple began to say, “Aren't you a Galilean? You’re one of His disciples. Ha! Look what’s happening. You believed He was the Messiah?” And he could not bear the ridicule. And he began, Matthew 26:74, “He began to curse, and to swear saying, I do not know the man. And immediately the rooster crowed, and Peter remembered the words of Jesus, who had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you'll deny me three times." So he went out and he wept bitterly. Why did Peter lie? He was afraid. He was afraid.

You know, I guess part of the secret of overcoming hypocrisy is overcoming fear. The Lord tells us, “Great peace have they that love thy law. Nothing will offend them. Perfect love casts out fear.” When you love the Lord perfectly; you know, there's something very liberating about not being worried about what people think about you. Being able to be honest and not being afraid of reprisals or ridicule, very liberating, great peace. It's not the only time that Peter played the part of the hypocrite. Galatians 2, we haven't talked about this very much. You still with me? No, I'm losing you. I'm going to put on another mask. This is typical. This is your Lone Ranger variety. Doesn't cover the whole face, just the eyes. Yeah, I can see. Galatians 2, are you with me? Remember, the word hypocrite means mask, ok? Galatians 2:11-13, “Now when Peter had come to Antioch I withstood him to his face because he was to be blamed. For before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles. But when they came, he withdrew and he separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.”

Why did he separate himself? He was afraid again. Fearing those, who were those of the circumcision? Those are the Jews. “And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.” You know what this tells us about hypocrisy? It's contagious. It's epidemic, actually. You know what happened here? You're not able to listen to me with this on, are you? You know what happened here? Even in the time of the apostles there was contention among the Christians whether or not the new converts had to participate in the Jewish customs and holidays, and to what extent. Have you read Acts 15, where they went to Jerusalem, and they said, “What are we supposed to tell the Gentiles to do?” And they said, “OK, command them not to eat blood or things strangled. Abstain from fornication, things offered to idols.” Sort of gave them four basics that they were confused on. I've actually heard some Christians say, “Those are the only new laws in the New Testament that Gentiles are supposed to observe.” A really strange arrangement of laws.

Doesn't see anything about God's name in vain, or stealing or any of these other things. And so, Jews, we're not supposed to Gentiles. You remember when Peter went in to eat with Cornelius? He saw the vision of the sheet that came down from heaven. And God said, “Arise and eat.” This is Acts 10. “Peter said, Not so Lord. I've never eaten anything common or unclean. And the Lord says, Do not call unclean what I have cleansed.” Three times this sheet comes down. It's full of all kinds of creepy-crawly, unclean animals. And it goes back up to heaven. Three times God says the same thing. Three times Peter says, “Not so, Lord. I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” Keep in mind; some people try to use that. They say it's OK to eat anything. Peter never takes anything out of the sheet and eats it.

Furthermore, it ought to be very important for you to remember, Peter, this is eight years after Christ, says he has still never eaten anything unclean. Meaning, Jesus never told him that was OK. But what does it mean? While Peter is pondering the vision some Gentiles came from Cornelius’ house because an angel had told Cornelius to go get Peter. And Peter finally realizes, I'm supposed to go talk to the Gentiles. I'm not supposed to call the Gentiles unclean.” He goes to Cornelius’ house. He begins by saying, “You know that it's not allowed for a Jew to eat with a Gentile, but God has shown me I am not supposed to call any man common or unclean.”

Had nothing to do with pigs and shrimp and lobster. Had to do with men. So Peter had learned the lesson, you would think, that Jesus now was calling everyone who accepted Christ a spiritual Jew. But now there's no distinction between Jew and Gentile. But the Jews had grown up with this and they could not shake it. And so, Peter was freely eating with the Gentiles. And he heard a contingent of Jewish Christians was coming from Jerusalem. He thought, “Hi guys. Can't eat with you anymore. People might talk.” So he leaves the Gentiles, and he goes over and he acts like he's living like a sanctimonious Jews that will not eat with the Gentiles. And he separates himself. And Paul confronts him. Paul says, “Peter, you're being a hypocrite. You're acting like you're too good to eat with the Gentiles when the Jews are around. You had no problem until they came.

Who are you concerned about impressing? If you think God's cleansed them, then why don't you set an example and eat with them?” Now Paul was not totally innocent of that temptation. Have you ever read everything Paul says about circumcision? Type it into your computer and do a search. He says, “Circumcision is nothing, uncircumcision is nothing,” but you know what? Paul circumcised Timothy because he realized it was becoming an obstacle for the people that Timothy would be working with. Some of the Jews would not listen so he thought, “Well, we ought to accommodate them.” How many of you remember when Paul went down to Jerusalem? And he was brought before the Jewish Council. And they said, “Rumor is circulating, Paul, that you don't believe the Jewish laws anymore, but we want to squelch that and so here’s what you do.

Shave your head and take a vow and go into the temple and do everything you can to show that you still believe in the Law of Moses.” Paul said, “OK.” And you know, you can read in the book Acts of the Apostle that was an act of cowardice on Paul's part. He was afraid of the ridicule from the religious leaders. So he was not immune. Now if Peter and Paul, if Sarah and Abraham, if David struggled with trying to be something that they weren't because they were afraid of what others would think, we're in pretty good company, aren't we? Have you ever heard someone say, “I'm not going to join the church because it's full of hypocrites”? I think it was Billy Sunday who said, “don't worry, there's always room for one more. Don't let that keep you out.” Everybody's a hypocrite. Now I'm not saying that we should be content to stay that way.

I'm saying that we need to acknowledge that we've got a problem. That makes you then a sincere hypocrite, and then the Lord can work with you. And help you get the victory over pretending to be something you’re not. Romans 2:21, “Thou therefore, who teachest another, teaches thou not thyself? Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayeth that a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery?” All right, maybe we're not stealing, but maybe we're robbing God by not paying our tithe. Maybe we're not literally committing adultery, but if we’re looking and lusting at the opposite sex, Paul is saying, “Do you commit adultery?” Now [????] idols, we’d never bow down to a statue of Venus or Jupiter, but some of us might worship our house or our piano or somebody else. Dost thou commit sacrilege?

There's a Chinese proverb that says, “1 foot cannot stand in two boats.” And if you try to straddle the fence you get hurt. It's all about honesty. Psalms 51, here's the verse I want you to remember. “Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts.” Here's what David says. What does God want? He wants truth. “Blessed are the pure in heart.” God wants the truth on the inward parts. When we pretend to be something we're not; we pretend sometimes to care when we don’t. Sometimes the offering plate goes by, I remember I might have $1.50 in quarters in my pocket. But they had one of those plates in this church that made a lot of noise when you put change in it. Everyone would look. So I'd put one dollar in, rather than $1.50 in quarters, which was actually a better offering. This is back in the days when that was a big offering for me.

Because I was afraid of what others would think. “Oh he's putting in change, spare change.” Even though it was more than the dollar. Worried more about what people think than what God thinks. Proverbs 16, “These six things the Lord hates, yea, seven are an abomination unto him.” Do you have a fair idea how Jesus feels about hypocrisy? What are the things the Lord hates, “a proud look,” we’ve talked about that, “a lying tongue,” is number two on the list. Hypocrisy is lying. It's dishonesty. It's trying to communicate or say or pretend to be something we're not. It's wearing a mask that is not you. One of the highest compliments someone ever paid me, that I'd like to share with you, is, at the conclusion of one of our meetings, they said, “Doug, you know what I really like about you is you’re unpretentious. You are who you are.” And I really appreciated that as a complement.

It's not true. But it really made me feel good. Because one of the nicest compliments, someone could say to you is that you’re genuine. You know what the word sincere means? Some of you know the history of that. Back many years ago when these potters would make these vessels out of clay, sometimes while it was being baked in the kiln, they’d get these little fine cracks in them. And unethical potters would then take this wax they had and they’d push it into the cracks and they’d polish and glaze over it and then they'd sell it. But master potters would not have any flaws in their vessels.

They would stamp on the bottom of their pot “without wax.” “Sin,” which is the word with out in Latin, wax, “cere.” Without wax, no flaws, no cracks, no cover-ups. It meant the real article, pure, uncontaminated. You know, when you sign your letters “sincerely,” I wonder how many times you've signed “without wax” when you really had plenty of wax in the letter. We get very eloquent, sometimes in our letters. I John 1:6, “If we say we have fellowship with Him, and we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” The Lord is telling us He wants us to walk with Him and have fellowship with Him. You know the good news is that if the Lord can save fishermen and make them honest, there's hope for everybody. Amen? If you can make fishermen honest then we've all got hope. Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true.” Now how does the Lord culminate that statement? “Think on these things.” What does He begin with? “Whatever things are true.” God wants us to be genuine people. Amen?

I was at Home Depot the other day buying a plug or something, and you know you casually talk to people at the counter. I said to the girl, “So how are you doing?” she said, “Well, not too well.” And you know, they're trained to be bubbly and optimistic. I remember I used to go to Kmart and every time you went out of Kmart; I've just about got the victory over that so don't worry. But every time you go to Kmart they had this letter that said, “TYFSOK.” And they had this; any of you saw the letters that were on the counter there? And I thought, “What does that mean?” She says, “We're supposed to tell everybody, ‘Thank you for shopping our Kmart.’” Doesn't feel very genuine when you know, somebody is going, “Oh yeah, thank you for shopping our Kmart.” Who was it; there was a quote in here that I wanted to share with you, by Oswald Chambers. No, it was A. W. Tozer. “Some churches train their greeters and ushers,” because I wasn't sure whether to say this or not. “Some churches train their greeters and ushers to smile and show as many teeth as possible. But I can sense that kind of display, and when I'm greeted by a man who's smiling because he's been trained to smile, I know I'm shaking the flipper of a seal.”

Now I want our greeters to keep smiling. Hopefully you mean it. Amen? But you ever had that expression, you know? “Hi, we’re glad you’re here.” I just had the picture of shaking a wet flipper of a seal. Like a trained animal. God wants us to be genuine, friends in what we say and what we do. But if the Lord is going to make our words authentic, if we are going to be authentic in these other areas, where does the change need to be? “Create in me a clean heart.” The Lord wants truth on the inward parts. DO you want truth on the inside, that it could be seen in your behavior? If that's your desire, please reach for your hymnal. We’re going to sing our closing hymn. I believe it's, I forget the number. What is the closing hymn? 330, Take My Life and Let it Be. Let’s stand together as we close.


You know, this song talks about giving God all of the most important parts, culminating with giving Him our mind, and our hearts, that everything else in our life might be authentic. I thought about having an altar call today, but if we were honest. We'd all be up front. How many of you would like to just lift your hand in the Lord's presence and say, “Lord, I'm guilty. I have been a hypocrite, maybe a sincere hypocrite, but a hypocrite nonetheless, and I pray that you'll help me to be honest. Help me to be true. Help me to be true in heart. Is that your prayer? Let's sing, verse three, “Take my lips.”


Father in heaven, Lord, we have looked into your word and talked today about this message we believe is very close to the heart of Jesus, that we might be saved from our hypocrisies. Some of us have sometimes unintentionally played the part of the hypocrite. Like Sarah, we tell a half-truth, or Abraham. But you look on the heart and you know that when we are plugging the holes with wax, we’re less than true. I pray, Lord, that you will help all of us to have our hearts renewed by the Holy Spirit. I pray that we will treasure truth the way you do. Help us to understand how much you hate dishonesty and lying and how much you love the pure in heart.

Please bless us, Lord, I pray, with the gift of the Spirit. Remind us at times when we are tempted to put on those masks and to feign and masquerade and have a pretense of being somebody that we're not. At the same time, Lord, give us wisdom to know where and how to draw the line so we can still be graceful and represent Jesus without being offensive and still be genuine and true. I pray as we go from this place today that each person will know are going with Jesus, that we can know our sins are forgiven and under the blood of the Lamb. And it's in the name of your Son, we ask, amen.

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