The Nature of God’s Word is to Fight Against Hypocrites

by Mike Ratliff

         When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses, and behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them, and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses talked with them. Afterward all the people of Israel came near, and he commanded them all that the LORD had spoken with him in Mount Sinai. And when Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil over his face.

         Whenever Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he would remove the veil, until he came out. And when he came out and told the people of Israel what he was commanded, the people of Israel would see the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face was shining. And Moses would put the veil over his face again, until he went in to speak with him. (Exodus 34:29-35 ESV)

What is hypocrisy? Most dictionaries define it this way, The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.” In the New Testament, one of best known examples of the Greek word translated as “hypocrites” is found in our Lord Jesus’ quotation of Isaiah 29:13 in Matthew 15:7-9, “ὑποκριταί, καλῶς ἐπροφήτευσεν περὶ ὑμῶν Ἠσαΐας λέγων· ὁ λαὸς οὗτος τοῖς χείλεσίν με τιμᾷ, ἡ δὲ καρδία αὐτῶν πόρρω ἀπέχει ἀπ᾽ ἐμοῦ· μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων.” Or, “Hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy concerning you saying, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts is far from me and in vain do they worship me teaching as commandments the teachings of men.” Remember, this was our Lord talking here. 

Whenever I write any piece on discernment and name names I also receive a healthy dose of reprimand from other Christians who believe that it is wrong for Christians to do the very thing our Lord was doing in the passage above or in John 9 in which he stood his ground against the hypocrisy of the false teachers of his day, refusing to model his ministry in such a way that it would never be offensive to anyone. How did our Lord react when his disciples came to him telling him that the Pharisees were offended at his teaching (Matthew 15:12)? 

[10] And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: [11] it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” [12] Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” [13] He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. [14] Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:10-14 ESV)

On Friday I received a heads-up about a blog article at the Gospel Coalition by Trevin Wax. The blog is titled Behind Every Theological Crusader There’s Usually a Story. Lets see if we can follow this logic consistently and where it takes us and see if it lines up with those used by God to bring him glory and edify the Body of Christ. How about the Apostles? Were they “Crusaders” as Trevin labeled them? Yep, that’s what they were and the Apostle Paul would be leading them. My library would probably not be very interesting to most people. I have open in front of me as I type this William Tyndale’s The Obedience of a Christian Man. Tyndale knew all about being a “Crusader” as Trevin would label him. He refused to bow the knee to the Pope or his Bishops, the King of England, or the Holy Roman Emperor as they hunted him seeking his life as he translated the New Testament from Greek to English. He then had them printed and smuggled into England. In his book The Obedience of a Christian Man he shows chapter by chapter how those who always oppose the work of God can often be those at the highest level of visible religious power. In their fight to suppress the true work of God their hypocrisy is revealed as they often persecute the righteous as they seek to create a religious climate that does not offend those in power.

Another book I have open in front of me is The Church History by Eusebius. He wrote during the time of the Arian controversy, but his history covers the time of Christ through his own time. He does not flinch in giving the details of the martyrdom of Christians who refused to bow the knee to evil rulers and heretics who gained power. I also have several of John Bunyan’s books who spent seven years in prison for refusing to stop preaching the Gospel.

Are these people “Crusaders” with a story and, therefore, just having “issues” that others need to take into account as the status quo is maintained so no one is “offended.” Two of my favorite Twentieth Century Christian “Crusaders” are Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and J. Gresham Machen. If these men were alive today I doubt if either would be invited to very many “conferences” to speak or address a gathering of pastors or whatever; at least, not outside of their own denominations. What makes these two men stand out is their utter refusal to compromise on God’s Word as God’s Truth. There was no hypocrisy in either of them and it cost both of them, but isn’t that the way with those who truly obey God?

When I read posts or articles like Behind Every Theological Crusader There’s Usually a Story I get heartburn. I want to go find Trevin and ask him some very serious and direct questions about the Sovereignty of God and what it means for believers to be those living sacrifices in Romans 12:1. Early last Fall I was attending a SG church in our area and had for some time, but our pastor resigned to become a hospital chaplain in another state. The man who replaced him was much younger and his take on theology and the place for discernment and separation was very different than what we had become used to. He would not tolerate someone like me writing a piece like this for instance. In any case, I look at that as God shoving my wife and I out the door and moving us a few miles away to very well established Bible Church. In any case, since then, sitting under the Bible teaching ministry there, I believe, God has moved me into a deeper, more mature living in the Word than I ever had before. God is good.

Do Christians have issues? Sure, when I was forced out of my old post as a Deacon and Bible teacher at that SBC church in 2006 because I refused to go along with it going Purpose Driven, I became a crusader against all things PDC and Rick Warren. I think I am past that, but through that I also learned that there is a great deal more going on with Rick Warren that we need to discern than the Purpose Driven paradigm. Some of my friends refer to him as Wolf Warren. Others are still so bitter towards him that they cannot even have a meaningful conversation about him without losing it. Being a highly technical I.T. guy I approach Rick Warren and all he does as a “threat” just as I would some “virus” or “spoofing” attack. He makes his move and I take the appropriate action to neutralize it by telling the truth, by shinning the light of God’s Word into the murkiness he creates with his open-ended theology that attempts to be non-threatening and inoffensive to everyone.

One of the first signs that a Christian leader is NOT following our Lord Jesus is that he takes the broad inoffensive way rather than the narrow way that offends leaving the results to the Holy Spirit. This is exactly the opposite from what most believe nowadays. Rick Warren and those who emulate him are on which path? Which path is the one with all the hypocrites according to our Lord Jesus (Matthew 15:7-9)?

Soli Deo Gloria!

10 thoughts on “The Nature of God’s Word is to Fight Against Hypocrites

  1. With articles like this one, Mike, since you crusade against the issue of Trevin Wax and his blog article at Gospel Coalition, I don’t expect you will be invited to guest post any time soon.

    That’s okay, brother, neither will I. Keep fighting the good fight of faith; press toward the mark; continue to exalt Christ unto God’s glory, my friend…

    and I prayers tonight will bring us the sweet antacid of Christ, and Him crucified to relieve the heartburn of such substance-less theological sentimentality.

    Love you, brother. May your worship of Christ be sweet and filled with Him and His amazing grace tomorrow.

  2. Amen brother, Amen! May God continue to bless and strengthen you and Jon- men who will not compromise truth. This is the time for discernment and for boldness, God will bless those who stay true to Him.

    Let us not fail to pray continually for one another, the days ahead will only grow darker.

    Lyn

  3. Interesting–disturbing…from the Wax article:

    “Instead, it’s best to point them away from the bad examples of leadership they’ve seen to what’s good in the movement they crusade against. There is always a mixture of good and bad in every cycle that comes through church history. Every revival has its excesses. Every leader has shortcomings. Lower the level of idealism a bit. And then bring the conversation back around to grace.

    You know, it’s sad that you had such a bad experience with a pastor who talks so much about grace. Isn’t that just another reminder of how badly we all need God’s grace?

    Sorry to hear about your pastor marginalizing you in the name of welcoming new people. His motivations may very well have been wrong. Makes me shudder to think of my own motivations at times. Aren’t you glad we’re not saved by our perfect sincerity? We’d all be in trouble if that were the case.

    I’m sorry to hear about the hypocrisy you saw during those worship services. Just goes to show you how messed up the church is, doesn’t it? My heart isn’t always fully engaged in worship either. Another reminder of how badly we’ve fallen and how much we need Jesus!”

    I have a hard time keeping a straight face with these responses Trevor gives. What if the bad in a “movement” is worse than the good?

    In other words, those who may be crusading against the abuses of say…SGM for example, well, nothing really to see there. ? Sorry your pastor is the biggest hypocrit you have ever seen…oh well, just goes to show …what? How the Holy Spirit isn’t working in his life? You maybe should find another pastor, don’t you think?

    There are really no victims because you are just as bad a sinner as the one who wronged you….seems to be what he is saying. That is primarily the SGM grace abuse bandaid they have placed on people in the past. In fact, you (victim) are possibly an even worse sinner than your violator because at least s/he is sorry, and you are the one not willing to be reconciled immediately. So–if you see abuse, hypocrisy, mistreatment, etc., just think about how bad you are, and all will be well…it will all even out in the end. This cavalier response regarding wrongdoing disguised as “bringing the conversation back around to grace” sounds all nice and spiritual and all, but, imo, it has a great potential to minimize sin and abuse grace, leaving the victim in confusion. All one would have to do is read the SGM stories to see how this is played out.

    But then again, TGC needs to get the masses pumped up for T4G and Mahaney’s big entrance…and with the AoR report coming out soon (to be reviewed privately by SGM and their friends in KY in a pre-T4G retreat) we all need to be reminded there is nothing to see here.

  4. On the one had I can kinda understand if someone wants to warn against some who just have a personal ax to grind. But in this day and age, with all of the deceptions, error, compromises and confusion on every hand, it sure is difficult to make a distinction between someone with an ax to grind and true biblical discernment in action. It is easy to brush people off I suppose but probably not wise anymore. Instead, aren’t we more in need of warning, rather than being complacent? Besides, who ever died from being warned? Far from personal ax grinding, I find that we need the discernment and the wisdom of those who know the scriptures and can judge between what is truly biblical and what only appears biblical. Mike, keep up the good work!

  5. Diane and Julie, there is most certainly a vast difference between true discernment via the Holy Spirit that he uses to edify the Body of Christ and glorify God and out of control emotionalism that is exhibited in continual fault finding and then is internalized in bitterness. I work continually to carefully respond to the former while avoiding the latter. This can cause separation and animosity between some who were formerly seemingly doing the same work. I am convinced God causes this to cleanse us of those with wrong motives and even perhaps unregenerate branches that are being removed from The Vine. The struggle in this is also used by God to prune those of us who are genuine branches in The Vine so we will be even more fruitful.

  6. Wonderful.

    One thing I have had God relentlessly point out to me is, we all are hypocrites. However, This hypocrite ME, has to go before the Lord when I find someone is in the wrong and something bothers me or I’m being chafed the wrong way. Have (I) not done the exact same thing to Jesus? Oh and I started to get so upset with someone or get so angry that what they’re dong is unfair and wrong.
    Don’t get me wrong Mike, I’m not belittling people for doing things that are wrong, but what I know now is the YOKE of Jesus in my life is so wonderful and he does not treat me as MY sins deserve. I go to Him FIRST in prayer and he shows me how I’ve treated him the same exact way and my heart just melts and I cry bitterly that I’ve done the same thing to Him. That I’ve offended a Holy God. Then I REPENT of my sins and hypocrisy.

    After I’ve done so I am able to pray for that person who is in the wrong and see their hypocrisy. It’s in God the Father’s hands and I get to love them in spite of it all.

    I Do think there is a righteous anger to someone continuing in hypocrisy the Lord Jesus clearly said so and exposed people and we are to do the same.

    Jesus said that we are to “FIRST get then log out of our own eye and THEN we will see clearly to get the speck out of our brother’s eye”-Matthew 7:5

  7. Very well said Linda! What do many miss in the log and speck analogy is exactly what you brought out. We get right with our Lord first then we go in the grace of God to get the speck out of our brother’s eye. Then, of course, there are the branches in the vine that produce no fruit or only evil fruit. What about them? We are told in scripture to preach the Word and stand firm against them not allowing them to deceive the saints. That is hard and something I do not like to do nor could I do without much prayer not only my own, but from you and others and then as the Holy Spirit leads, I do. My role is not as visible as others and that’s fine by me.

  8. Pingback: More Hypocrisy « Possessing the Treasure

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