Are You a Hypocrite?

by Mike Ratliff

1 Μὴ κρίνετε, ἵνα μὴ κριθῆτε· 2 ἐν ᾧ γὰρ κρίματι κρίνετε κριθήσεσθε, καὶ ἐν ᾧ μέτρῳ μετρεῖτε μετρηθήσεται ὑμῖν. 3 τί δὲ βλέπεις τὸ κάρφος τὸ ἐν τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου, τὴν δὲ ἐν τῷ σῷ ὀφθαλμῷ δοκὸν οὐ κατανοεῖς; 4 ἢ πῶς ἐρεῖς τῷ ἀδελφῷ σου· ἄφες ἐκβάλω τὸ κάρφος ἐκ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ σου, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἡ δοκὸς ἐν τῷ ὀφθαλμῷ σοῦ; 5 ὑποκριτά, ἔκβαλε πρῶτον ἐκ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ σοῦ τὴν δοκόν, καὶ τότε διαβλέψεις ἐκβαλεῖν τὸ κάρφος ἐκ τοῦ ὀφθαλμοῦ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ σου. (Matthew 7:1-5 NA28)

1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 ESV)

I believe that I have been called a hypocrite more this year than in any other year of my life. No matter who says it or writes it, it still stings. What is so troubling to me, however, is not that I am called that, but that most believers are ignorant of the fact that the most prevalent example of hypocrisy is to profess Christ as Lord and Saviour, while being totally enslaved to one’s flesh with the resultant fleshly behavior that is the fruit of pride.

In v5, the ESV’s rendering of the word “hypocrite” translates the noun ὑποκριτά (hypocrite) whose root is ὑποκριτής (hypokritēs).  The “hypo” portion of both words is from the preposition “hypo.” This word means “under” indicating secrecy. The second part of each word above is derived from the Greek word “krino.” It means, “to judge” or “to divide” or “to separate.” By the time of the New Testament era, hypokritēs had come to mean an actor who wore a mask impersonating a character. It’s common usage was to refer to a counterfeit, a man who assumes and speaks or acts under a feigned character. The one doing this did so in order to distinguish oneself.

With that in mind, let us look closely at our Lord’s words from Matthew 7:1-5. In v1 our Lord gives us a command. Most translate it thus, “Judge Not!” The verb structure here is present, imperative, active. The present imperative occurs only in the active and middle voices in the New Testament. In the active voice, it may indicate a command to do something in the future which involves continuous or repeated action or, when it is negated, as in v1, a command to stop doing something. Since this is present, imperative, active, this command is to stop doing something that has become a way of life. This something is to judge in a way that brings judgment back on oneself. We have to make judgments or we could never make decisions. So our Lord isn’t telling us to stop all judging, but we are to stop judging sinfully. If we skip down to Matthew 7:12-20 we see where we are to make judgment calls about the veracity of believers professions of faith.

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. 13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:12-20 ESV)

Therefore, we know that our Lord’s command from v1 to “Judge not” is not referring to all judging so we must determine what He is forbidding us to do and then repent of it by His grace. Here is the entire passage again.

1 “Judge not, that you be not judged. 2 For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 ESV)

We find our answer in our Lord’s examples and analogies here followed by the word that describes the ones who do this. The ones judging sinfully are doing so in a way that will bring about the judgment on self to the level or measure of how they mete it out. They are critical of others while being guilty of doing the same thing they are bringing to light. Jesus calls them hypocrites. Using the definition from above we know that the purpose of this type of judging is to make self look good. It is done pretentiously to put others down in way that will make self look better. Jesus says that the ones being criticized by the hypocrites probably are guilty and the only way we can help them is to repent of our own sins first then get right with God (1 John 1:9) then we can come along side our brothers and sisters and help them into the light as well.

I find this very interesting because Jesus is actually teaching us here to live humble, repentant lives so that we can help others repent in our humility rather than in our hypocrisy. If we rebuke professing believers who are in apostasy or deep in some sin from any self-oriented motivation while we are being hypocritical, the result will not be their repentance. Instead, we will bring judgment back on self. On the other hand, if we humbly obey our Lord in rebuking those enslaved to sin or apostasy from the motivation of delivering them from darkness we will not bring judgment back on self and God will use us to either draw them into the light or cause our words to be judgment against them if they do not repent.

Lastly, if we are to do battle in this arena of spiritual darkness, we must be prepared. That means we cannot fight effectively if we are in any form of hypocrisy ourselves. Paul was extremely effective as God’s warrior because he was content wherever God had him. In this state, his concern was never for self, but always on the repentance or obedience of those with whom he dealt with the ultimate goal of their edification and future glory with God. (Philippians 4) Therefore, let us not be hypocrites. Let us be penitent former hypocrites who are eternally grateful for the grace of God in us. Where would any of us be without God’s Amazing Grace?

Soli Deo Gloria!

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6 thoughts on “Are You a Hypocrite?

  1. Well written, Lord grant us repentance to humble ourselves and not let spiritual pride become our downfall!

  2. Reblogged on ezekielcountdown

    Precious Lord, equip me to be as “Paul was extremely effective as God’s warrior because he was content wherever God had him.” Amid seasons of discouragement, precious Savior, equip me to be a better witness to those yet lost.

  3. Reblogged this on Ezekiel Countdown and commented:
    Precious Lord, equip me to be as “Paul was extremely effective as God’s warrior because he was content wherever God had him.” Amid seasons of discouragement, precious Savior, equip me to be a better witness to those yet lost.

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