Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:00

The Fear of Being a Hypocrite

Written by Rev. G. Procee
The evil one uses a variety of special devices, means and tactics whereby he tries to hinder the spiritual life of GodÕs people. One important means whereby the devil tries to disturb the work of God is letting them think they are hypocrites. Some of GodÕs children can be perplexed because they fear they are hypocrites. That fear can paralyze spiritual life and disturb communion with Christ.
What is a Hypocrite?
A hypocrite is someone who pretends to know Christ but in reality is carnally minded and lost. Such a person is outside of Christ. He pretends to know grace, but fools others, and at times even himself. A hypocrite is known by a special characteristic of speech. He talks much about himself and wants to impress others. He wants to give the appearance of godliness and wants others to notice that he is a very pious person. A hypocrite will talk about his deeds, experiences, emotions and activities.

We may therefore well ask ourselves the question: ÒWhat motivates me? Do I seek the honour of men or do I seek GodÕs honour?Ó

There are people who do not talk much about themselves and who have no desire to make a display of their piety. Still, they are afraid they are hypocrites. They compare their life to what they consider to be a genuine Christian life and measure themselves by it. From this comparison, they draw the conclusion they must be hypocrites.

Falling into Sin
Such people tell themselves, for instance, that all who have a true and saving share in Christ are exempt from the prevailing power of sin. Since they hold that a Christian is delivered from the dominion of sin and they themselves still fall into certain sins, they quickly conclude they are hypocrites.

But this conclusion is too rash. The idea that a Christian does not stumble into a certain sin is not according to God's Word. Psalm 65:3 says: ÒIniquities prevail against me:Ó The apostle Paul states in Romans 7, ÒFor I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.Ó

Children of God are susceptible to all kinds of sin. However, sin no longer exercises dominion over them. They are no longer slaves to sin. Sin is still a temptation and a powerful enemy, but it is resisted. A child of God can fall into certain sins, but will not remain in these sins. He will fight against them because sin has become his enemy.

That is the difference between a hypocrite and a child of God. A hypocrite will not fight against some, especially hidden sins, but a child of God groans about his indwelling sin and fights against it.

Unanswered Prayers
There is a second reason why some think they may be hypocrites. Some say they can believe they are true Christians only when they experience striking answers to their prayers. They reason that God has a special love for His children and therefore He hears them and grants their requests. Because they do not seem to receive answers to their prayers, they reason that they are not true Christians.

This reasoning is false. It is true that the Lord does hear prayer. Psalms 65:2 says, ÒO thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.Ó It is the Lord Who leads His people to pray for certain essential needs and grants their requests. But it also can be that the Lord answers differently than we expect or that He does not even grant certain requests.

We read in Scripture of children of God who did not receive certain requests. They struggled with the reality of unheard prayer. We read of people of God who cry out: ÒHow long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?Ó (Ps.13: 1) Think also of Psalm 22:2 - ÒO my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.Ó The fact that they did not receive these requests does not qualify them as hypocrites. A genuine child of God may have prayer requests that God does not grant.

Desire for Praise
There is a third reason one may think he is a hypocrite. That is when a desire for praise is perceived in oneself. A hypocrite will have the habitual tendency to seek the favour of man. It is a major concern what people think of him. This is a very important consideration. It can indeed be true that the praise of people is the aim. Wilhelmus a Brakel responds to this in the following manner:

Do you function better spiritually in the presence of people than
when you are alone? Do you engage in spiritual activities,
especially in the presence of men? Is it that you do not engage
in spiritual activities or just do them sloppily when you are
alone? Answer sincerely before God whether you are better off
spiritually in the presence of people than when you are alone. If
it is your delight to perform spiritual activities preferably in
the presence of other people, then you are indeed a hypocrite.

It may be, however, that this seeking of self is a grievous burden to you and you resist it. It may be that you delight to be alone with the Lord to worship Him. Your condition may be such that you are much more open and intimate with the Lord when you are alone. This shows that you are not a hypocrite. A hypocrite is not concerned about personal communion with the Lord, but about what people think of him. He favours the honour of men above the honour of God.

Instability
A fourth way in which one can fear that he is a hypocrite is to be unstable. Instability characterizes a hypocrite. Does Scripture not say that a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8), whereas a steadfast disposition is reserved for the righteous? One may look at self and see that at one moment one is zealous and the next moment is lukewarm. At one moment I seem to make progress and the next moment I seem to regress. One moment I am elated and the next moment I am depressed. Such a fearful soul will draw the conclusion: I fear I am a hypocrite. This can be a severe affliction in spiritual life.

Every child of God will experience degrees of instability; we can read of that in the lives of the Bible saints. Elijah thought his work was in vain. Peter looked at the waves. Abraham had a hard time believing the promises of God. Instability is a sin but does not classify one immediately as a hypocrite. Perceived instability does not have to be a sign of hypocrisy as long as our hearts remain closely attached to the Lord. We read in Scripture of saints who fled to the Lord when they were disappointed by their perplexing instabilities. Elijah fled to the Lord with his complaints. Peter looked to the Lord and Abraham continued in faith.

When your falls into sin lead you back to God with sorrow and prayer, you are no hypocrite. Instability is present in the lives of God's children because of the ongoing spiritual warfare. There is a struggle between the flesh and the spirit. It does not mean a person is a hypocrite but simply that he lives out of a new spiritual principle while he still is in the body of flesh. The spirit wars against the flesh and vice versa.

Self-Examination
What to do, if still afflicted with thoughts that you are only a hypocrite? Examine your works. Do they proceed from nature or from grace? If they spring from nature, you will be seeking self and your own honour, like the Pharisees of old. If they proceed from faith, you will seek to glorify God. Nature can never lead a person to experience an unfeigned hatred of sin and all false ways. Nature does not teach us to be obedient to the commands of God. It does not teach us to long for the glory of God and the exaltation of His Name. These are things a hypocrite will never do. A hypocrite can stop sinning for a time, but can never say with David: ÒI hate every false way.Ó

If you still doubt that you are a believer, then seek and thirst after Christ. Rely on Him for salvation. Have no other wish than to live for Christ alone. Trust in the Lord. Beg Him for the grace of a holy walk and to die to self. Read GodÕs Word and meditate on it. Continually lay your needs before the Lord. Beg His Holy Spirit to lead you closer to Christ and to rest more and more in Him.

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