God's Response To Church Hypocrisy

Whenever anyone is asked why they no longer go to church, the number one response that is always given is that there's too much hypocrisy in the church. Whenever polls are published that report these statistics, we usually hear a lot of huffing and puffing from others who insist, "That's no reason to avoid going to church! We're all imperfect people, a church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints." But that defense avoids the indictment by redefining the word hypocrisy. No one claimed to be avoiding church because its congregations were filled with imperfect people, neither has anyone claimed to be seeking museums for saints.

Let's clarify what defines a Christian hypocrite. A Christian hypocrite isn't an imperfect Christian who falls into sin from time to time. A Christian hypocrite is someone who continually lives in sin, someone who continually covers it up and lies about it while pretending to be someone they aren't. Christians who live a double-life like this will never know peace and cannot advance as a Christian. They may be a sinner saved by grace, but they are short-circuiting the power of God in their lives so that they will never know peace. When churches become filled with hypocrites, they usually begin to lead people astray into a state of self-delusion.

If churches were truly hospitals for sinners (as they indeed should be) then healed lives would be the result of going there. But instead, these "hospitals for sinners" are actually becoming more like hospices. You know what a hospice is, don't you? A hospice is a wonderful place for people who are waiting to die and wish to do so peacefully, comfortably and without pain. It's a place for the sick who have no expectations of ever getting better. But those who are sick who wish to be cured would rather go to a doctors office or a hospital, because that's where the path to healing begins. They wouldn't go to a hospice. But hospices are exactly what most of today's churches have become. Jesus prophetically warned that this would happen in the latter days.

How can you tell whether your church is a hospital for sinners or a hospice? It's real easy. When you're there, how comfortable are you with your sin? We all have sin in our lives that needs to be dealt with. Me too. I'm so glad that my God is an eternally loving, forgiving God with unconditional love. But with unconditional love, also comes loving conviction, loving reproof and Biblical instructions (given in love) on the pathway to better living. If you're not getting that in your "hospital for sinners" then you might be at a "hospice for sinners" instead.

What is God's personal response to church hypocrisy? When a church becomes a "hospice for sinners", you can find God's personal response in the first chapter of Isaiah. I especially like what God said in Isaiah 1:12-15. Judah had turned it's back on God, and yet they still continued to hold religious meetings on all their religious days, performing all their religious ceremonies.

God said to them, "When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you that your unholy feet trample My courts? Bring no more offerings of vanity; your hollow offering is an abomination to Me; the Sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot endure. I hate your festivals and hypocritical feasts and solemn meetings. They are an oppressive burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them. And when you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you. Yes, when you make many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood."

Many of you might say, "Josh, that's the way God was in the Old Testament toward Israel. God wouldn't say that today to the church." Well, let's see if that's true.

Concerning church hypocrisy, Jesus said in Revelation 3:16b-17 "I will vomit you out of my mouth because you say 'I am rich and in need of nothing' and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked." In case you didn't catch that, Jesus is saying that church hypocrisy makes him so sick, that he has to puke!

Jesus also said in Matthew 5:13, "You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt loses it's flavor, how can it be salted? It's good for nothing, but to be cast out, and trodden under foot." Somebody should have explained to Jesus that salt without it's flavor should be allowed to stay in the salt shaker since it might become salty again hanging around all the good salt. That's usually what we're told about hypocrites in church, that "church is a good place for hypocrites since they might change one day." But Paul (upon Jesus' authority) would disagree with you.

Paul said in 1st Corinthians 5:9-11, "I wrote to you in my letter not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Now when I said that, I didn't mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters of this world for if that is what I meant, then you would have to leave the entire world altogether. What I meant is what now I have written to you, not to keep company with anyone named a brother (a Christian), 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." Earlier Paul said in verses 1-2, "It's been reported that there is sexual immorality among you that's not even tolerated among the heathen, that one should have his own father's wife. And worse, you are puffed up about it and you are arrogant! Shouldn't you rather be grieved? Let him who has done this deed be removed from among you." Notice Paul didn't feel the need to preface any of this by saying, "Don't get me wrong, all sins are the same to God and we've all been forgiven by the same blood so I don't mean to sound judgmental or anything, but..."

So the next time you hear of someone not wanting to attend church because of all the hypocrisy, don't criticize their reasoning. They're in good company with the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. While Jesus is vomiting, notice where he's standing in verse 20.

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door..."

Jesus isn't attending that church either. He had to run outside to puke, and now he's knocking to get back in, but without any expectations. "IF...any man hear my voice..."