The Change From Hypocrisy To Sincerity
By bro Lee Tian Seng
When Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of His close friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, Mary anointed His feet with a pound of very costly oil of spikenard. She did that to honour Jesus. However, Jesus’ disciple, Judas Iscariot, was not pleased with what he saw. He exclaimed, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” Why waste the costly fragrant oil? It could be sold for 300 denarii and the money be distributed to the poor. Those in the house would have thought that Judas was benevolent but the truth is that he was covetous. His concern was not for the poor but he had designed to take the money for himself. Apparently, he was the treasurer of the group of disciples who followed Jesus Christ and had often taken money out from the bag for his use. (John 12:1-8)
John 12:5-6 – Why was this fragrant oil not sold and the money given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.
Judas Iscariot was a hypocrite in that he gave an appearance of being caring towards the poor but was not. We could also be hypocrites if we make an appearance of being righteous just like Judas. We fall into the snare of hypocrisy when we seek to conceal our sins or when we desire to appear righteous before men.
How can we avoid being a hypocrite? What do we need to change?
1. Change in Thinking
We need to change our thinking about living in hypocrisy. Ananias and Sapphira conspired to lie to the Apostles that they had sold their land at a certain price and had given the money to them, withholding the truth that they had kept some for themselves (Acts 5:1-11). Imagine how much effort they put into fabricating the lie and making sure that no one knows the truth.
Satan deceives men to think that it is worth the effort to be a hypocrite when it is futile. While at times we can deceive some men, we can never deceive God. God knows our hearts and there is no way we can pretend before God. On the last day when God judges the world, He will know who are His true disciples.
Matt 7:21 - “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
Therefore, we need to change our thinking, since there is no point for us to be good on the outside but bad on the inside. Instead, we should seek to be right with God who knows our hearts.
2. Change in Focus
We should shift our focus to what really matters. Sins come from an evil heart. If our hearts are not pure, they will show in the way that we live. Jesus reminded us that it is important to preserve the purity of what is in our hearts.
Matt 15:17-20 - Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
The scribes and Pharisees are focused on keeping the external forms of religion and had neglected the need to obey God and to keep their hearts pure. To avoid being a hypocrite, one should seek the purity and sincerity of his heart, knowing God looks not at the outer appearance but into the hearts of men (1 Samuel 16:7).
Besides changing our focuses, we should watch out for tell-tale signs of hypocrisy. These are the seven deadly signs of hypocrisy.
1. When we focus on the external forms of the religion but neglect the inner qualities of faith and goodness.
2. When we seek the appearance of being religious without being truly devoted.
3. When we major on the minor (less important) things in religion and miss out on the major (faith and obedience).
4. When we are quick to judge others and are not willing to examine ourselves.
5. When we teach the doctrines of Christ but are unwilling to obey and live according to the teachings.
6. When we seek to attain self-righteousness instead of seeking after God’s righteousness.
7. When we are attracted by the riches of the world and are not wholly submitted to God.
The ultimate question that we should ask ourselves is: Are we living a lie? Are we real before God? We may claim to be the disciples of Jesus Christ but are we keeping His commandments?
1 John 2:4-5 - He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this, we know that we are in Him.
Let us not be a hypocrite before God because one who lives a life of lies will be found out.
Rev 21:8 – “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”