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Causes Of Hypocrisy

Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
–James 1:22

Why causes somebody to be a hypocrite–to put on a facade of worshiping God? Sometimes it is because the person is unsaved. Jesus addressed this issue of people who appear to be Christians in His parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:24-30: A man planted wheat in his field, but at night his enemies came and planted tares. These plants look like wheat when they sprout, but they bear no fruit; instead, they strangle out the real wheat. The Bible says in the world today there are genuine Christians and fake Christians living side by side. The fake Christians appear devoted, but there is nothing on the inside.

A second reason somebody may engage in hypocrisy is spiritual immaturity. Yes, they are saved, but they are stunted in their spiritual growth because they have not practiced the truth. Paul addressed this kind of spiritual immaturity in the Corinthian Christians. Five years after visiting the church, he wrote to them, “I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). Paul was saying, “When I first visited, you were brand-new, baby Christians, and that is how I treated you. But five years have passed, and you are still not mature.”

Why didn’t they grow? The writer of Hebrews answered that question: “Everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (5:13-14). Spiritual maturity comes with practice–that is, obedience to God’s commands. God did not give us the Bible so we could become smarter sinners; He gave us His Word so we could become more obedient followers. James 1:22 says, “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” If we do not act on what we know to be true, we become spiritually stunted. We become hypocrites.

One of the greatest dangers of hypocrisy is what it does to unbelievers who look at us. Christian writer Brennan Manning said, “The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle.” Now, none of us is perfect. Nevertheless, Christians who profess one way of living but act another way may deter some people from the way of salvation. That is the danger of hypocrisy.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Straight Talk About Your Worship” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2022.

Brennan Manning, voiceover on dc Talk, “What If I Stumble?” track 4 on “Jesus Freak,” ForeFront/Virgin, 1995, compact disc.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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