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Points to Ponder: Of Course Church-Going Christians are Hypocrites
Points to Ponder
Of Course Church-Going Christians are Hypocrites
By Pastor Whitmore
Weekly Contributing Writer
Someone asked me: How can a devout, church-going, professed Christian be a conniving, divisive and condescending person the rest of the week?
Right after attending church, this person will often come home and then proceed to cut down and criticize anyone and everyone. How can this be?
Paul refers to such people as carnal Christians in First Corinthians. He calls them "brethren" (fellow believers) and laments that he could not speak to them on a spiritual level; for they were "carnal."
"....for where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?" (I Corinthians 3:3)
So, one can have right beliefs and lack outward evidence of it. That is frustrating to other Christians and can be a stumbling block to non-Christians. But Paul reminds these carnal ones that there will be a day of reckoning.
"...each one's work (life practices) will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is" (v. 13).
Those whose work passes God's judgment will be rewarded, and those whose work is burned, "he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (v.15).
James also deals with the carnal behavior of Christians. What we speak is often a proof of what's in one's heart. In chapter 3, he says the tongue is an "unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren (fellow Christians) these things ought not to be so." (3:8-10)
In chapter 4, James says we need to clean up our act when we find ourselves behaving carnally.
"Where do wars and fights come from among you? ...You lust...you murder (hate) and covet...fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask" (4:1-2).
He elaborates further, then sums it up: "When you adopt worldly values and behavior, you set yourself in opposition to God" (v. 4, paraphrased).
Again, Christians can believe rightly and behave wrongly. James points out the spiritual struggle within the carnal believer.
"...do you think that the Scripture says in vain, 'The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously'?" (v. 5)
God gives us grace to overcome these carnal tendencies, if we will submit to Him. But if not, He opposes us.
"God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (v. 6)
The trouble is that many carnal Christians, commonly called "hypocrites" by observant witnesses, aren't aware they aren't "walk(ing) circumspectly" (Ephesians 5:15), carefully watching themselves. Those who are self-confident in their own piety will often fail to see what they are doing.
Thus Peter says, quoting the same verse as found in James 4:6, that we must "all...be submissive to one another, and be clothed in humility" (I Peter 5:5b).
So, of course most church-going professing Christians are "hypocrites" in the eyes of many. The non-church-attending professing Christian who levels these charges is even more so the hypocrite.
The standard by which those outside the church judge those who go inside, turns about upon them and convicts them all the more; for at least the carnal one is humble enough to enter the Lord's sanctuary while the others consider themselves above the need.
Self-deception is the easiest sin to miss and for obvious reasons.
"If anyone thinks himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceives himself." (Galatians 6:4).
Hilltop Christian Fellowship, 12624 Trinity Church Drive, Clear Spring. Listen to Rev. Whitmore on WJEJ-1240 AM, Tues and Thurs at 10:45 a.m. & p.m. & Wed at 10:45 a.m. www.hilltopchristianfellowship.com.