The Apostle Paul admonishes us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to “examine ourselves” to make sure we are “in the faith.” It is possible, according to Paul, to believe we’re redeemed when in actuality we’re “reprobates.” Our Lord warned us that some would be deceived about their salvation even on the day of judgment. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus said:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians 13:5 teaches us two tremendous truths. First, we can be sure that we are in the faith. The Bible definitely teaches a “know-so” salvation (1 John 5:13). We can be sure that we are a Christian. We can live our Christian lives certain of our salvation and without any doubt about it.
Second, we can assure ourselves that we are in the faith by honestly examining ourselves. How can we assure ourselves of our salvation by examining ourselves? It is by searching our lives for any sign of a specious salvation. The Bible teaches us that there are several distinguishing marks of a hypocrite. If, in our examination of ourselves, any evidence of hypocrisy is found in our lives, then, our salvation is suspect. It may be specious rather than genuine. On the other hand, if no evidence of hypocrisy is uncovered in our lives, we may rest assured that our salvation is genuine and that we’re no hypocrite.
CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST
In this book we will be looking at several distinguishing marks of a hypocrite. These sure signs of hypocrisy are set forth for us in the First Epistle of John. This important New Testament book is all about confidence. There is, when it comes to living our Christian lives confidently in Christ, no more important book in all of the Bible to be read and studied by Christians than this little New Testament epistle.
The word “confidence” occurs in 1 John three times (2:28; 3:21; 5:14). The word “know” occurs in the book twenty-one times. Listed below are some of the things this little epistle teaches Christians should know:
- We should know that we know Christ. (1 John 2:3)
- We should know that we are in Christ. (1 John 2:5)
- We should know that Christ abides in us. (1 John 3:24)
- We should know that God hears us when we pray. (1 John 5:15)
- We should know the truth. (1 John 2:21)
- We should know that we are of the truth. (1 John 3:19)
- We should know that we are of God. (1 John 5:19)
- We should know that we have passed from death unto life. (1 John 3:14)
- We should know that we have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)
In his first epistle, the Apostle John sets forth both the sure signs of salvation and the distinguishing marks of a hypocrite. By examining our lives for the presence of the former and the absence of the latter, we can assure ourselves of our salvation in Christ. We can live our Christian lives confidently, without any doubts about our salvation. In fact, John’s stated purpose for penning this little epistle was so that the true Christian can “know that” he or she has “eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
WALKING IN DARKNESS RATHER THAN IN LIGHT (1 John 1:5-10)
The first distinguishing mark of a hypocrite is that hypocrites walk in darkness rather than light. Notice, John is not talking so much about how we walk, but where we walk in this passage. To walk in the light is to walk in transparency before God. It is to be open and honest with God about our disobedience to His Word and failure to fulfill His will.
According to John, if we are true children of God we will be children of light. We will walk in the light, “as [God] is in the light.” We will walk in “fellowship” with God, who “is light.” We will live our lives in agreement with God, which will not only result in us being convicted over our sins, but also in us confessing our sins.
If we’re willing to always acknowledge our sins to God and agree with Him about them, then, we can be assured of God’s faithfulness to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all of our sins and unrighteousness (vs. 7, 9). This blessed assurance is the precious possession of the true spiritual progeny of God, who are proven to be the children of the “Father of lights” by their walking in the light (James 1:17).
According to the ancient Prophet Amos, only those in agreement with one another can walk together (Amos 3:3). In light of this, what are we to conclude about professed Christians who disagree with God about their sin? Instead of being convicted over it and confessing it, they deny it and defend it. Obviously, despite their Christian profession, they’re not walking with God.
Far from walking in the light, they are walking “in darkness,” which proves their Christian profession to be a “lie.” Instead of children of God, they are children of the devil, who like their father are void of the truth (John 8:44). They, according to the Apostle John, have deceived themselves and are guilty of making God out to be “a liar” and “His Word” out to be untrue (vs. 8, 10).
Anyone who denies and defends their sin rather than admits and quits it is walking in darkness. They are certainly not walking in the light or in agreement with God. By glossing over their sin they prove themselves to be unacquainted with God. They may profess to be a Christian, but they are proven to be a hypocrite.
How often today do we hear the subtle serpent’s “HATH GOD SAID” (Genesis 3:1) uttered by professed Christians in an attempt to exonerate themselves and excuse their sin. When scripturally reproved or corrected for their sin (2 Timothy 3:16), they resort to questioning their reprover’s interpretation of Scripture. They call into question the true meaning of what the Scripture really says by reducing it down from God’s objective truth to a mere matter of our subjective interpretations.
Many a scriptural “THOU SHALT NOT” is often twisted today into a tentative “HATH GOD SAID.” When sin is exposed by the searchlight of Scripture, many an exposed sinner attempts to dodge the Bible’s indictment by calling into question the Bible’s intent. Does the Bible really prohibit a particular sin or is there another possible interpretation of that particular biblical prohibition? And if there is another possible interpretation in the minds of those practicing the biblically impermissible, then who has the right to accuse them of violating Scripture for simply disobeying what is nothing more than a perceived biblical prohibition? Granted, there may be a difference of interpretations, but no one can say for sure that there is any disobedience to God’s Word, since the true meaning of God’s Word is uncertain, not to mention subject to a variety of different interpretations.
By turning a biblical “THOU SHALT NOT” into a tentative “HATH GOD SAID” and by subjecting the objective truth of Scripture to the subjectivity of men’s personal opinions, the scripturally exposed sinner is able to turn the tables on all of his detractors. Rather than being forced to either confess his sin or to deny what the Bible clearly teaches, he condemns his detractors for being guilty of intolerant dogmatism. How dare his detractors insist upon their interpretation of Scripture being preferred over his as the only plausible interpretation. It is this spiritual sleight of hand―the distracting of others from his clear disobedience to Scripture to his detractors’ supposed self-righteousness—that enables the exposed sinner to keep the jury out on his sin while at the same time getting a quick conviction against his detractors as arrogant know-it-alls who demand unquestioning obedience to their personal opinions.
The Bible teaches Christians to use biblical “doctrine”—the clear teachings of Scripture―to “reprove” and “rebuke” one another for sin (2 Timothy 4:2). Furthermore, the Bible teaches us to appreciate rather than excoriate those who rebuke us for our violations of biblical prohibitions. For instance, the Bible teaches us to prefer rebuke over flattery and to “love” those who rebuke us (Proverbs 9:8; 28:23). The true Christian will therefore be appreciative of biblical reproof and willing to confess their sin when it is pointed out to them by Scripture. On the other hand, a hypocrite will always be angered by biblical reproof. Far from being willing to confess his sin, he will attempt to explain away the biblical proof of it and to excoriate anyone daring enough to point out his perpetration of anything the Bible prohibits.
The hypocrite’s walking in darkness entails more than just the denial of personal sins. It also involves denying the possession of a sinful nature. Whereas the hypocrite disputes the biblical definition of sin in order to deny he has done anything wrong, he disputes the biblical doctrine of original sin in order to deny that there is anything wrong with him. Of course, belief in his own innate goodness is the corollary to denying his sinful nature.
It has been said that the biblical doctrine of original sin is the only philosophy empirically validated by thirty-five centuries of recorded human history. That man is, as the Bible teaches, not only a sinner by choice, but also by nature, is proven by how man’s every effort to create heaven on earth inevitably ends up producing hell on earth. Try as he may, sinful man is incapable of good apart from God. On his own, man’s utopian dreams always result in nightmarish evil.
The importance of a proper understanding of the biblical doctrine of original sin is impossible to overstate. It is imperative to a proper worldview. Unless one understands that God is the only good and that good is impossible apart from God (Mark 10:18), he or she will buy into the lie that man is innately good and consequently capable of creating his own heaven on earth, as well as earning his own way to Heaven. This is the very lie that the serpent spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden to bring about the fall of the human race. It is also the lie that spawned the building of the Tower of Babel, man’s initial attempt to create utopia on earth by means of a one world government and a one world religion. Make no mistake about it; behind the unbelief of all sinners and mankind’s utopian ideas is the serpent’s lie that man is innately good and capable of building his own way to Heaven, as well as his own ideal civilization on earth.
All who believe this forked-tongued lie of the serpent are guilty of accusing God of being a “liar” and “His Word” of being untrue (v. 10). God’s Word clearly teaches that all men are sinners and that no man is righteous or capable of doing good (Romans 3:10,12, 23). Therefore, anyone ascribing to this fallen world’s belief in the possibility of an earthly utopia under human governance or an alternative way to heaven based on man’s goodness rather than God’s grace cannot possibly be a Christian. Such a person is walking in the darkness of this fallen world’s deception rather than in the light of God’s infallible Word. If they profess to be a Christian, their Christian profession is proven to be a lie (v. 6). They are a hypocrite; someone who is obviously “blinded” by “the god of this world” rather than living in the “light of the glorious Gospel of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
DISOBEYING RATHER THAN OBEYING GOD’S COMMANDMENTS (1 John 2:3-5)
The proof of our love for God is our obedience to the Law of God. It is love, not law, that produces obedience in the Christian life. The true Christian doesn’t obey Christ because he feels forced to by the Law of God. Instead, he obeys Christ because he wants to, thanks to his love for God.
In 1 John 5:3, John writes: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” In this verse, like in 1 John 2:3-5, John teaches us that the proof of our love for God is our obedience to God. In 1 John 5:3, however, John adds that the true Christian actually obeys God without any grievance. He is neither grieved over God’s commandments nor God’s expectation of him to obey them. Instead, he is glad to do so. Since he loves Christ, his delight is to please Christ; and since his delight is to please Christ, he is not grieved by Christ’s commandments, but glad to obey them.
The true Christian “serves the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2). He does it with a spring in his step and a smile on his face. He doesn’t do it with a frown and dragging his feet. He is “constrained” to serve Christ by “the love of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:14). His service and obedience are not just motivated by his love for Christ, but also by the inescapable thought of Christ’s incomprehensible love for him.
I like J. B. Phillips’ translation of 1 John 2:5. According to Phillips, the more a man learns to obey God’s laws the more truly and fully he expresses his love for God. The true measure of your love for Christ is your obedience to Christ. The less you live for Him, the less you love Him. The more you live for Him, the more you love Him. If you don’t live for Him, you don’t love Him. Disobedience to Christ proves the disingenuousness of one’s profession of Christ. Anyone unwilling to live for Christ doesn’t love Christ, regardless of what he professes.
In John 14:21, Jesus said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John’s teaching in his first epistle echoes our Lord’s teaching here in John’s Gospel. According to Christ, it is only those who obey Him who really love Him. Furthermore, it is only those who are obedient to Christ’s commandments who are in communion with Him and His Father.
According to our Lord, He will only “manifest” (reveal) Himself to those who prove their love for Him by their obedience to Him. Therefore, as John teaches in 1 John 2:3, it is only those who “keep His commandments” who “know Him.” Anyone living in disobedience to Christ cannot possibly know Christ, since Christ does not make Himself known to those who disobey Him.
If to know Christ is to love Him and if to love Him is to obey Him, then, all who disobey Christ cannot possibly know nor love Him. Anyone professing to know Christ and to love Him while living in disobedience to Him belies their Christian profession. They’re a hypocrite, someone claiming to know Christ, but to whom Christ has never made Himself known.
THE PRACTICE OF SIN RATHER THAN RIGHTEOUSNESS (1 John 3:6-10)
Is John teaching in these verses that sinlessness is the sure sign of salvation? Are the true saints of God distinguished by living lives of sinless perfection? If this is what John is teaching here, then, he is contradicting what he previously taught in chapter one. Remember, in chapter one, John taught that anyone claiming to “have no sin” was deceiving himself, void of the truth, denying God’s Word, and even accusing God of being “a liar” (1:8, 10). Obviously, John is not contradicting himself; he is not contradicting here in chapter 3 what he taught back in chapter 1.
The Bible teaches that all men are sinners (Romans 3:23). We all sin, Christians and non-Christians alike. Christians can even have besetting sins; that is, sins that continuously trip us in our Christian walk (Hebrews 12:1). Furthermore, a Christian can even commit an atrocious sin. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 5:1, Paul speaks of a Christian in Corinth who was sleeping with his own stepmother.
Far from teaching in this important passage that Christians do not commit sin, John is simply teaching here that Christians cannot continue in sin. Whereas the non-Christian can commit sin without a struggle and continue in sin without contrition, the Christian cannot. Instead, the Christian must struggle against the inward resistance of the indwelling Holy Spirit to commit sin, as well as suffer the continuous conviction of the Holy Spirit if he or she continues in sin. It is this struggle to commit sin and contrition afterward, caused by God’s “seed”―Jesus Christ living in us in the person of the Holy Spirit―that makes it intolerable for the true Christian to continue in sin. Whereas the true Christian can pull off the perpetration of a sin, he or she, thanks to the indwelling Holy Spirit, will find the practice of sin unendurable.
Although all Christians do sin, in order to do so we have to fight our way through the resistance of Christ, God’s “seed,” who lives in us in the person of Holy Spirit. With every temptation to sin the Christian is confronted with the simultaneous and inescapable counter constraint of the indwelling Holy Spirit not to sin. To sin, the Christian, unlike the non-Christian, must fight his way through the inward resistance of the Holy Spirit. This inward resistance to sinning serves as proof positive of our salvation, since it assures us of the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us.
In addition to our struggling to sin, another proof of our salvation and the indwelling Holy Spirit is the inescapable contrition we experience after every sin we commit. A Christian, unlike a non-Christian, cannot sin without being plagued afterward by the conviction of the indwelling Holy Spirit. If we sin, by successfully fighting our way through the Holy Spirit’s resistance, we will afterward find ourselves engaged in a whole new struggle with the Spirit. Instead of constraining us from it, the Holy Spirit will now be convicting us of it. We will know no peace from the Spirit’s conviction until we have confessed and repented of our sin.
Like the Spirit’s constraining of us from sinning, the Spirit’s convicting of us for sinning also serves as proof positive of our salvation. The inescapable conviction we experience over every sin we commit is proof of the presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit within us.
According to John, it is the unavoidable struggle with the Holy Spirit facing every Christian before and after he sins that makes it impossible for any true Christian to practice sin. This is the tremendous truth the Apostle John is teaching us in this important passage of Scripture. He is not teaching that true Christians cannot commit sin, but only that true Christians cannot continue in sin, since the indwelling Holy Spirit will make it intolerable for a true Christian to do so.
Non-Christians may occasionally suffer the pangs of conscience over their sin, especially when it results in the suffering of others, such as their family or friends. They may also hesitate in committing a sin, due to their fear of the consequences they may suffer if caught in their sin. Still, for the most part, non-Christians can freely sin, having a natural tendency to do so and no inward resistance against sin to fight their way through.
Whereas the Christian can never be comfortable in sin, but always contrite over it, the non-Christian cannot only sin without restraint, but sin without remorse as well. Far from being contrite over his sin, the non-Christian can actually take “pleasure” in it and even “glory” in the “shame” of it (Romans 1:32; Philippians 3:19). For instance, some gays and lesbians today profess to be Christians, but at the same time proudly march in Gay Pride Parades. The fact that they take both pleasure and pride in their sin serves as proof positive that their Christian profession is spurious. There is no way anyone who professes to be a Christian can be indwelt by the Holy Spirit if they are pleased with their sin against God, much less proud of it.
To profess Christ and to be void of any inward restraint against living a sinful lifestyle is to prove the absence of the indwelling Christ in your life. To be gleeful in your sin without guilt and to be boastful about it rather than bothered by it is to prove yourself a possessor of a “seared” conscience (1 Timothy 4:2), not of a sincere Christian profession. Anyone who is unencumbered in a sinful lifestyle is unacquainted with Christ. Although they may profess to know Christ, their practice of sin proves that they have never met Him. If they ever had, Christ’s presence in their lives in the person of the indwelling Holy Spirit would make the practice of sin insufferable. Anyone professing Christ and practicing sin is therefore proven to be a hypocrite.
Whereas the Apostle John teaches us that one of the distinguishing marks of a hypocrite is their ability to sin without constraint or contrition, it is the Apostle Peter who best explains how hypocrites, unlike true Christians, can practice sin unimpeded.
According to Peter, it is the Christian’s partaking of the “divine nature” that constrains him to practice righteousness (2 Peter 1:4). Since the “divine nature,” God’s “seed”―Jesus Christ―lives in the Christian in the person of the Holy Spirit, the Christian is enabled to “escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.” In other words, sin loses its luster to the Spirit indwelt Christian who not only has to fight his way through the Spirit’s constraint every time he sins, but also contend with the Spirit’s conviction after every sin he commits. Such spiritual struggle will lead the true Christian to choose Christ over “the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25), since sin’s pleasures are so short-lived and the struggle with the Spirit over any committed and unconfessed sin is both incessant and inescapable.
Unlike the Christian, the non-Christian, who is void of the “divine nature” and the possessor of a fallen nature, finds himself constrained to practice sin rather than righteousness. His fallen nature not only gives him a natural inclination to sin, but also allows him to be content within a sinful lifestyle. Although he can occasionally go against his natural inclination to sin and perform a righteous act, he cannot continue to practice righteousness. He will always end up returning to his sinful practices, since it is his natural propensity to do so.
“Dogs,” according to the Apostle Peter, always return to their “own vomit” and “washed” pigs to their “wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:22). Why do dogs and pigs do such disgusting things? It is because they are dogs and pigs. It is their nature to do such things.
Likewise, Christians and hypocrites can be distinguished by what they are naturally inclined to do. A Christian, because of his new divine nature, is incapable of practicing sin. Whereas he may commit sin, he cannot continue in sin. His new nature won’t allow it. On the other hand, a non-Christian, because of his old sinful nature, is incapable of practicing righteousness. Whereas he may occasionally perform a good deed, he will always return to his disgusting sinful practices. He does so simply because he is a sinner rather than a saint and has a sinful nature rather than a divine nature.
Regardless of your Christian profession, if your life is characterized by the practice of sin rather than righteousness, you’re a hypocrite, since no partaker of the divine nature can be content to continue doing what is disgusting to God.
HATING RATHER THAN LOVING OUR BRETHREN (1 John 2:9-11,; 3:14-19; 4:7-13)
According to the Apostle John, love enables us to “abide [live] in the light” so that we are kept from “stumbling.” On the other hand, hate “blinds” our “eyes” and leaves us to live out our lives groping around in the “darkness.” This teaching of John’s is articulated elsewhere in Scripture as well, even by our Savior Himself.
In Matthew 22:35-40, a “lawyer” puts our Lord to the test by asking Him, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus passes the test with flying colors by responding: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Notice, our Lord said that all the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments. In other words, to obey God’s Word and to live in God’s will is a simple matter of loving God and others as we should.
Think about it; if we love God as we should love God will we not want to please Him in our lives? Will our love for God not make sinning against Him a most undesirable thing? Furthermore, if we love others as we should love others will we mistreat them or commit some wrong against them? Will our love for others not cause us to always be kind to them and do right by them? “Love,” truly “is,” as the Apostle Paul teaches in Romans 13:10, “the fulfilling of the law.”
All we have to do to be what God wants us to be, to do what God wants us to do, and to live like God wants us to live is to love God like we ought to love God and to love our neighbor like we ought to love our neighbor. The whole law of God is summoned up in these two commandments―loving God with all our heart and loving our neighbor as ourselves. If we obey these two commandments and love as we should love, then, we will live out God’s law in our lives.
Whereas love is the fulfilling of the law, resulting in our living “in the light” and not “stumbling,” hate “blinds” our “eyes” and leaves us stumbling around in our lives in the “darkness.” According to the Apostle Paul, if we get “angry” and “let the sun go down on our wrath,” we will “give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27). In other words, if we go to bed mad at someone, we will wake up with resentment toward them.
In Matthew 18:23-35, our Lord presents us with a most intriguing parable. The parable tells of a pauper who owes a fortune to his king. However, when the pauper pleads for mercy, the king forgives his unpayable debt. Immediately afterward, the forgiven pauper goes out and demands payment on a dollar debt owed to him by one of his fellows. In spite of his debtor’s plea for mercy, the forgiven pauper unmercifully has him imprisoned over his failure to pay. When the king hears of this, he has his pitiless forgiven debtor “delivered to the tormentors” over his pitilessness.
Obviously, the forgiven pauper in our Lord’s parable represents us. We owe our God (King) an unpayable sin debt. We can’t possibly pay it, being spiritually impoverished paupers. However, if we will plead for God’s mercy, our unpayable sin debt can be forgiven, since Christ paid it for us on the cross of Calvary. Afterward, what right do we have to refuse to forgive others their little debts against us when God has forgiven us our unpayable debt against Him? If we refuse to show pity toward others, after receiving God’s mercy ourselves, our God will “deliver us to the tormentors” over our pitilessness.
Who are the tormentors? Are they not the demons of Hell? There is no surer or shorter way to demonization than resentment. To be unforgiving toward others is a sure trek to torment. Just ask yourself this question: “Have I ever met anyone with a grudge or an axe to grind that was not a tormented soul?” Make no mistake about it; resentment is like an acid that does more damage to the vessel in which it is stored than it does to the object upon which it is poured.
If you’re resentful toward someone, you’re not hurting them, you’re only hurting yourself. Furthermore, if you’re unforgiving toward others, you’ve not been forgiven by God. To live with a grudge is to live without God. Regardless of your Christian profession, If you carry grudges and have axes to grind, you’re no Christian; you’re a hypocrite!
According to the Apostle John, true love is proven “in deed and in truth,” not “in word” and with one’s “tongue.” John insists that there is no way “the love of God” can possibly dwell in someone who is unloving toward others. If the same “love of God” dwells in us that led Jesus to lay “down his life for us,” how can we not be moved with “compassion” when we see our “brother” in “need”? Furthermore, how can our “compassion,” which is spawned by Christ’s love within us, not result in charitable action toward our needy “brother”?
Compassion toward our needy brother, which is spawned by the love of Christ within us, will not be merely professed with our “tongue,” but proven by our “deeds.” We will be moved into action by Christ’s love within us. Whereas Christ “laid down his life for us,” His love within us will move us into action to do whatever it takes to meet the “need” of our needy “brother,” even if it requires us “laying down our lives for” him as Christ “laid down his life for us.”
The absence of love in action toward a needy brother is proof of the absence of Christ’s love within our heart. There is no way that Christ dwells in an uncaring heart. Uncharitableness undermines Christian confessions and serves as a distinguishing mark of a hypocrite.
If the absence of love in action toward a needy brother is proof of the absence of Christ’s love within our heart, how much more certain is it that our heart is void of the “the love of God” if we “hate” our “brother”? How can a Christian “hate” and want to destroy (“murder”) his “brother”―someone Christ loved so much that He died to save on the cross of Calvary? Truly, such a proposition is preposterous!
According to the Apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit has deposited the love of Christ in the hearts of all Christians (Romans 5:5). As a result, Christians lose their capacity to hate. As a Christian, I find myself incapable of hating anyone. Now, this doesn’t mean that everyone is welcome at my house for supper. There are people I don’t care to associate with. There are people I don’t like, but there is no one that I don’t love. There is no one in the world today that I don’t want to be saved by Christ and seen by me in Heaven.
As a Christian, I’ve discovered that I can’t even hate people who hate me so much that it appears they’ve devoted themselves to my destruction. Rather than hating them, I find myself pitying them and praying for them. I can’t help but feel sorry for them, since the task they’ve devoted themselves to is certainly not worthwhile. I’m certainly not important enough to deserve such time and attention. Instead of wasting their time trying to put me down, they ought to spend their time trying to lift Jesus up. This, not the former, would be a worthwhile task to devote oneself to, a task well deserving of one’s time and attention.
Hatred, even more than heartlessness, proves the absence of the love of Christ in a human heart. How can anyone with “the love of God” in their heart hate their “brother,” someone Jesus loved so much that He died to save him on the cross of Calvary? Although haters of other professed Christians may profess to be Christians, there is no possibility that the Holy Spirit has ever deposited the love of Christ in their hateful hearts.
The Apostle John teaches us that the presence of God’s “Spirit” in us is proven by the “perfecting” of God’s love in our lives toward others. On the other hand, to be unloving toward others and to claim to “know” God, who “is love,” is like claiming to be on intimate terms with someone whose language you cannot speak. How can someone be “born of God” if they bear no resemblance to Him, being devoid of love, God’s most distinguishing characteristic?
Many an unloving soul attempts to excuse their refusal to love others by arguing that others are unworthy and undeserving of their love. However, no one was ever more unworthy and undeserving of the love of another than we were of the love of God. As John puts it: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” The Apostle Paul makes this same point even more poignantly: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). God loved us so much, despite our unloveliness, that He sent his Son to die for us, even though we were sinners totally undeserving of His love.
If God’s love for us is really in us, “we ought to love one another” unconditionally as “God loved us.” It is our God-like, unconditional love that distinguishes us as the children of God, as Jesus taught in Matthew 5:43-48.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
If you only love those you deem worthy and deserving of your love, then, you cannot possibly be a child of God. Only those who are compelled to love all men unconditionally truly know God, who “is love.” No one professing to be a born again child of God can possibly be “born of God” if they bear no resemblance to God, especially if they are void of God’s most distinguishing characteristic, namely, His unconditional love.
THE LOVE OF THE WORLD (1 John 2:15-17; 3:13; 4:5-6)
No one who loves God will love and live for the temporal things of this world. Instead of a worldly life, the true Christian will live his life in this world “doing the will of God.” As a result, “the world [will] hate” him (3:13) and refuse to “hear” him (4:5-6).
Anyone confessing to be a Christian who is caught up in the things of this world and living a worldly life is a hypocrite. A true Christian can neither live his life inattentive to God’s Word nor indifferent to God’s will. Therefore, true Christians do not live their lives in conformity to the world, but in compliance with the Word and will of God. Consequently, the world will neither love nor listen to the true Christian, but will hate him and refuse to hear him.
How contrary are these truths of Scripture to contemporary church growth strategy. The contemporary church believes the only way it can reach the world is to be like the world and to be liked by it. In the contemporary church, worldly practices and popularity are not seen as sure signs of hypocrisy, but as effective means of evangelism. Instead of an evil we spurn, hypocrisy has unfortunately become an end we seek. Worldliness is no longer seen as hypocrisy, but as a high-priority in contemporary church pews and pulpits.
REFUSING TO CONFESS CHRIST (1 John 2:22; 4:2-3)
According to the Apostle John, anyone who refuses to confess Jesus Christ is a “liar” and “antichrist.” The prefix “anti” obviously means “against.” All who refuse to publicly confess Jesus Christ are against Christ. By refusing to acknowledge that Christ is the only way to God they deny the truth, declare a lie, and pit themselves against Christ by attempting to persuade men to spurn the salvation He has wrought for us through His sinless life, vicarious death, and bodily resurrection.
What more dastardly deed can any man perpetrate against Christ than this? What more dastardly deed can any man perpetrate against his fellowman than this? No wonder John defines an “antichrist” as anyone refusing to confess Jesus Christ. There is no greater sin we can commit nor any other sin that carries such grave and eternal consequence to ourselves, as well as to our fellowman.
Although the prefix “anti” means “against,” it also means “in the place of” or “instead of.” This means that anyone confessing Christ as one of many ways to God is just as much a “liar” and “antichrist” as someone who refuses to confess Christ at all. Much to the chagrin of both our modern-day world and the contemporary church, Pope Francis is just as much a “liar” and “antichrist” as was the late Anton LaVey, the man who started the church of Satan. Whereas LaVey refused to confess Christ at all, Pope Francis teaches another way to God―the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church―“instead of” faith in Christ alone.
In actuality, Pope Francis poses a far greater danger to men’s immortal souls than an Anton LaVey. Whereas it is obvious to everyone that the founder of the church of Satan was an antichrist, it is unimaginable to most people that the head of the Catholic Church is as well. Most folks are aghast at the mere suggestion of such a thing; after all, the pope, they argue, says and does so many good things. Yet, it’s this very thing that makes the pope far more dangerous when it comes to jeopardizing men’s immortal souls.
In 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, the Apostle Paul wrote: “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” According to Paul, Satan’s most successful ministers masquerade as “ministers of righteousness,” just like their master masquerades as “an angel of light.” It is the good things that Satan’s ministers say and do that cover and obscure their devilishness and diabolical designs.
The rat poison D-con is made mostly of good grain; it has only a little pinch of poison. It is the good grain that attracts the rat; it is the little pinch of poison that does him in. Likewise, false prophets and teachers may preach and teach mostly good things. Yet, it is that little pinch of bad doctrine that does in the gullible soul. Any little pinch of a lie mixed in with the truth can prove spiritually fatal to all who believe it.
If your profession of Christ is equivocal, allowing others to view your faith in Christ as a way to God, but not necessarily as the only way to God, then, your profession of Christ is a lie and you’re an antichrist. Only someone who has never been saved by Christ can be ambiguous in their acknowledgement of Christ as the world’s only Savior.
Many modern-day pews and pulpits are populated by antichrists, those who attempt to make the Gospel more palatable to a truth-regurgitating world by mixing a little lie in with the truth of the Gospel. These “D-con” clergymen and laymen prove themselves to be hypocrites by compromising the pure Gospel with a little pinch of apostasy or ambivalence. Although they mistakenly believe they are making the Gospel more attractive to others, what they’re really doing is denying the Gospel altogether.
Many professed believers today believe they’re being diplomatic when they suggest the possibility of other ways to God apart from faith in Christ alone. However, what they’re really dong is denying the Christian Faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), contradicting the claim of Christ Himself (John 14:6), and proving themselves to be hypocrites and antichrists.
Contrary to popular opinion, respecting other people’s religions rather than refuting them is not a Christian thing to do. Indeed, nothing could be more unchristian. To spare the feelings of those advocating false faiths at the expense of their immortal souls is to perpetrate a most foul crime against them. Anyone guilty of such an act is obviously a “liar” and an “antichrist,” since they propagate the deception that the Gospel is dispensable and Christ is replaceable when it comes to man’s salvation.
While many contemporary Christians may plead innocent of advocating other paths to God apart from faith in Christ alone, they are silent in their opposition to the plethora of other paths to God being suggested today. Although they may feel their silence is justified by its inoffensiveness, it is actually a most damnable offense to perpetrate against all whose immortal souls are hanging over eternal destruction by the thin thread of spiritual deception.
As it has been astutely observed, “Silence is complicity.” To fail to warn others of the error of their ways is to be a party to their destruction. For instance, to fail to warn a train of a washed out trestle is to play a part in the destruction of all on board the train. Likewise, for a confessed Christian to fail to warn others of the dire consequences of their false beliefs is to play a part in their spiritual destruction. Just as failure to warn the train cannot be justified by your unwillingness to upset the passengers, failure to warn others about their soul imperiling false beliefs cannot be justified by your unwillingness to offend the spiritually deceived.
Have you ever noticed how the Bible teaches us that we must “call upon” and “believe on” the “name of the Lord” to be “saved” (Romans 10:13; John 1:12)? Why are we not instructed to just believe in or call upon the Lord? The name of the Lord is “Jesus,” which means “the salvation of Jehovah.” The salvation of Jehovah is found in Jesus alone. Jesus is mankind’s only hope of salvation. Apart from Him “there is no [other] Savior” (Isaiah 43:11). As Acts 4:12 teaches, “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” No other name can save us. Allah won’t do, neither will Mohammed, Buddha, Brahma, or Krishna. Only Jesus can save us from our sins!
The Bible teaches us that to become a Christian we must trust Christ and Christ alone for salvation. Consequently, all true Christians believe that all other religions are spiritual dead-ends, leading only to destruction (Proverbs 14:12). No matter how sincere their adherents, false religions can no more save us from our sins than a sincere belief that strychnine is milk can save us if we drink it. There is simply no way that a false faith can lead anybody to the one and only true God.
Anyone who believes that salvation is available apart from faith in Christ alone cannot possibly be a Christian, since such a belief belies one’s believing in and calling upon the name of the Lord. To profess to be a Christian while suggesting the possibility of other ways to God apart from faith in Christ alone is to prove oneself not only a hypocrite, but a “liar” and an “antichrist.”
In 1 John 4:2-3, the Apostle John gives us the spiritual acid test. According to John, if we confess Jesus Christ, we are “of God” and have “the Spirit of God.” On the other hand, if we refuse to confess Jesus Christ, we are of the devil and have been seized by the “spirit of antichrist.”
Are you ever-willing and ever-ready to publicly confess Jesus Christ or are you hesitant and reluctant to do so? The answer to this question speaks volumes about your present spiritual condition. Many who profess Christ privately behind church doors are unwilling to do so publicly in the town square. According to Jesus, those who refuse to “confess” Him “before men,” He will “deny before [His] Father which is in Heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).
Refusing to publicly confess Jesus Christ proves any private profession of Christ disingenuous. No born again child of God will publicly deny his or her spiritual parentage; to do so proves one’s spiritual illegitimacy and serves as a sure sign of hypocrisy. No matter how loud one professes Christ privately, to deny Him publicly is to be denied by Him ultimately.
In Mark 8:38, our Lord warned us that if we are “ashamed” of Him and of His Word in this fallen world, He will be “ashamed of [us] when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” What worse fate could possibly befall the true Christian than to have Christ ashamed of him or her at His coming?
The story is told of a youth who overheard two teachers speaking of her mother before a school play. One teacher asked the other if the mother of the young girl, who was the star of the play, would be attending the performance. Having never met the girl’s mother, the teacher hoped to have an opportunity to do so that evening. The other teacher explained, however, that the mother, whose face was badly scarred from burns that she suffered years earlier, had stopped coming out in public after her daughter told her she was ashamed of her.
“The real shame of it all,” explained the one teacher to the other, “is that the mother suffered her burns saving her daughter from a house fire when her daughter was only an infant.” Upon overhearing this conversation, the young girl immediately broke down in tears. Not only had her mother never told her the story of how she suffered her burns, but she had asked others to keep it a secret from her as well, for fear that she might somehow blame herself for her mother’s scars. Just imagine how ashamed of herself that young girl suddenly became and how proud of her mother she must have been after learning that her mother had once saved her life.
You and I know for sure who is to blame for the scars of Christ. We are! Christ’s scars were suffered for our salvation. In light of this, how can anyone saved by Christ be ashamed of such a Savior. For any true recipient of Christ’s salvation to be ashamed of Christ as his or her Savior is truly absurd.
If one considers the words of Christ in Mark 8:38 in their context, it becomes obvious that Christ is distinguishing those ashamed of Him from those who truly believe in Him. In Mark 8:34-38, Christ separates sinners from saints by differentiating between those who are willing and unwilling to: (1) come to Him (2) deny themselves (3) take up their cross (4) follow Him, and (5) lose their lives for His sake and the gospel’s. In verse 38, Christ is simple making a final distinction between the sinner and the saint. Whereas the saint is one who unashamedly confesses Christ (Romans 10:9-10) and preaches His Gospel (Romans 1:16), the sinner is too ashamed to do either.
Hypocrites are easily detected by their refusal to publicly profess Christ and to preach His Gospel. They not only fear suffering this world’s persecution, but also hope to secure its praise. Therefore, they will never be found publicly professing Christ or preaching the cross, knowing how offensive the cross of Christ is to this Christ-rejecting world (Galatians 5:11).
On the other hand, the true saint is easily detected by his or her public profession of Christ and bold preaching of the Gospel. Far from being ashamed of Christ or His cross, they will proudly proclaim both to the world regardless of cost or consequence to themselves (Acts 4:20; 1 Corinthians 9:16).
In this book, we’ve examined ourselves to be sure we’re in the faith. We’ve looked for any evidence of hypocrisy in our lives; that is, for any of the distinguishing marks of a hypocrite.
If we are convicted over our sin and compelled to confess it, if our love for Christ is demonstrated by our living for Christ, if we struggle to sin against the Spirit’s constraint and afterward struggle with the Spirit’s conviction, if the presence of Christ’s love in our hearts is proven by our charitableness and forgiveness toward others, if we live our lives in accordance with God’s will rather than in conformity to this world, and if we are ever-ready and willing to publicly confess Jesus Christ, regardless of cost or consequence to ourselves; then, we may be assured that we are a Christian!
On the other hand, if we deny our sin and attempt to defend it, if our love for Christ is disproved by our disobedience to Christ, if we can sin without a struggle and continue in sin without contrition, if the absence of Christ’s love in our hearts is proven by our uncharitableness and resentfulness toward others, if we live our lives in conformity to this world rather than in accordance with God’s will, and if we are hesitant and reluctant to publicly confess Jesus Christ, for fear of incurring the ire of this fallen world; then, we are a hypocrite.
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