Hypocrites

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There are so many hypocrites in the church, why should we even bother going anymore?

This question is turning up like a Geico commercial that you can’t skip because it’s already over. The question, or statement, is in your mind now and you wonder if you really could save 15%, aka the frustration of Sunday morning and the problems that continually arise when you “go to church”.

This is the verse that popped into my mind when I was thinking about the question of hypocrisy, funny how God can use a verse to jump-start a whole train of thought.

 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;” Romans 12:9-11

It’s easy to focus on the “abhor what is evil” and ignore the “cling to what is good”. What is good? God is good, and when he created, he called what he made good. What God creates, what God ordains, is good. Do we always display things the way God intended? No. But that doesn’t mean we throw out what is good. We are to abhor the evil, the hypocrisy, and cling to what is good. Fight for it.

“ Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrew 10:23-25

Why does God call us to assemble? Apparently He thinks we need to be reminded to love, to do good and encourage each other. We don’t need to be reminded of those things, we automatically do them and never ignore the Spirit’s tugging on our heart. That of course is not true. We know we need to be reminded.

God says, “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst.” So can’t our believing family members be that reminder for us? Why can’t we leave all the rest of the hypocrites to their pews?

I believe this can be answered with the three following questions:

1) Who instituted the church? Jesus – the answer to all your Sunday school questions.

“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18

 2) What Constituted A Church Meeting?

Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it.” 1 Corinthians 11:17

Not a positive verse as far as church meetings go, I know. This is a rebuke for the Corinthians for the manner in which they were meeting. But it is obvious that the meeting involved more than a family. Throughout Scripture what God ordains and puts into place is more often than not portrayed in a less than perfect way, case in point. But that does not give right to redefine what God has set in place.

God established the church through the New Testament believers. What did that look like?

“…And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers…So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. “ Acts 2:42, 46-47

Meetings in the temple, eating in each others houses, having favor with all people. This fellowship is broader than a single family.

1 Corinthians 14:26-40 talks about the church assembling together, each one having a psalm, teaching, revelation, tongue, interpretation. Letting all things be done in order. These verses call the men to do one or more of the above in an orderly fashion. In addition,

Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.” 1 Corinthians 14:34-35

The subject of submission is a whole other topic, which could possibly be another blog in the future. Setting that aside though for the sake of the topic at hand, this verse says women keep silent in church (for the purpose of order) and ask questions at home. This implies church is happening outside of the home. Why is there so much about church order if God intended for us to meet with only our family at home?

In 1 Timothy the qualifications of deacons and elders are laid out for the purpose of the church.

“But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

God spent a lot of time setting up the order of the church. He has a purpose for the church. Think about that before casting it all aside to commune only with God. This leads to the next question.

3) What does God refer to the church as?

  • The church is Christ’s bride.

If I have a problem with my blood brother’s wife I don’t say to my brother, “I don’t like your wife so I’m just going to hang out with you.” According to God, what happens when you get married? The two are made one. If I have a problem with my brother’s wife – I essentially have a problem with him. I need to work it out if I want a good relationship with my brother.

Our relationship with Christ is tied in with His bride – the church. Christloves His bride. He is constantly washing her with the word. (Read Ephesians 5:24-27) He does not give up on cleansing His bride. Don’t give up on the bride, God hasn’t.

What else is the church referred to as?

  • The body of Christ.

The church is not supposed to be a whole bunch of individual people, although individual people form the church. We are called to see each other as one body. One unit. To be unified. If you as the eye of the body see hypocrisy, do something about it! Don’t leave the other part of the body to self-destruction. Now here’s a passage we must consider,

“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body… and have all been made to drink into one Spirit…  But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.  And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 1 Corinthians 12:13, 20-22

When we forsake assembling with other believers is this not what we are essentially saying? “I have no need of your part of the body of Christ?”

God created us with a dependence on Him but he also intended for us to depend upon each other. Otherwise He would have made us all “bodies” in and of ourselves instead of parts of the body who need each other to function properly. If you break fellowship with the body of Christ we as the body are not functioning to “full capacity” so to speak. Side note: If you say you’re a part of the body – yet you refuse to meet and function as a part of the body the way God laid it out – is that not hypocritical?

What about the “hypocritical” member(s) you are rightly bothered by? If they are living in contradiction to God’s Word, while acting as if all is fine and dandy, something clearly must done or the rest of the body will be affected negatively. However, remember to deal with your own sins first or you will be just as guilty of hypocrisy.

 “Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:4-5

We can talk about hypocrisy all day long but in the end hypocrisy is another form of sin. What do you struggle with? Sin. Your struggle might not be hypocrisy, but it sure is something that is not in line with God’s way. So what does the verse above say to do? First – remove your own plank – deal with your own sin. Second (and don’t forget there is a second) – help remove the speck from your brother – confront your brother in love with the hopes of restoration.

If you see hypocrisy in the church, it is not a problem that solely belongs to another. It is your problem. It is my problem. It is our problem. We are all a part of the body. Hiding from the issue does nothing to solve the problem.

I’m going to ask you two questions and I don’t want you to read any further until you have honestly answered them. Are you ready?

  1. Have you gone up to this person(s) who you believe are acting hypocritical and sat them down, one on one, and talked to them about it?
  2. Have you supported your concerns with Scripture (not preference) and then listened to what they have to say?

How often do you talk about hypocrisy in the church, pew sitters, double standard legalists, etc?

How often have you talked to (not bashed- talked to) someone about his or her hypocrisy, pew sitting, legalism?

Have you come to the spot where you are essentially talking behind people’s backs, expecting them to change, then punishing them with your silence and breaking of fellowship because your standards are not met?

“But it’s not my standard I’m worried about it’s God’s standard.”

If God wanted us to break fellowship with the church because it doesn’t meet up to His standards, in all honesty no one would fellowship at all. As in no one, not even fellowship within families.

Now hear this. There are times when we are called to break fellowship with a brother who refuses to repent.

 Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. “ Matthew 18:15-17

“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person.” 1 Corinthians 5:11

These verses call for accountability; they do not call us to leave the fellowship of the church. If the church body you are attending, specifically the elders, refuses to follow God’s way and is taking a stance that cannot be supported by Scripture – run. Otherwise, work it out.

Start conversations WITH the person(s) in question. Don’t start the conversation with the intent to demean, have the goal to encourage and restore. Maybe those “hypocrites” need you. Maybe God has placed hypocrisy on your heart because He wants to use you in a positive way to help remove that speck from your brother’s eye. Breaking fellowship with the church body because you are tired of hypocrites is one and the same as breaking fellowship with the church body because you’re tired of sin. Sin is here until the end of this earth. Don’t let it become the reason for you hiding from the body Christ called you to be a part of.

Assembling together with the church is good. It is good because God ordained it. Abhor what is evil, don’t be satisfied to let sin creep in and lie amongst us; but remember to cling to what is good.

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