by Mike Ratliff

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5 KJV)

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.

Our Lord’s usage of the word “hypocrite” in Matthew 7:5 was the Greek word “hupokrites.” This word is a derivative of the word “hupokrinomai.” The “hupo” portion of both words is from the preposition “hupo.” 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, “hupokrites” 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.

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:12-20 KJV)

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.

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:1-5 KJV)

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 our 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?


32 thoughts on “Hypocrisy

  1. I would strongly say that you are no hypocrite! I would also strongly note that those who seem to use that term (along with Pharisee, legalist, or whatever) usually include words that don’t bear repeating in public and bring shame to God when we use them. I think they fit the term far more closely than you ever will. Keep up the good work.

  2. Good point to make Mike. Seeing how all of us probably spent time with family over Thanksgiving and was exposed to what you are bringing up here. So if you have jumped through all the hoops and you finally got to the point the Lord wants you to be at, which is pray for them and He will use it to convict them or use it to judge them, when you don’t see a change year after year after year, and they still do what they have always done, (which can be nerve racking at times) then what? Its pretty sad when you have family who use you as a doormat and we aren’t to ‘say’ anything back to them. They show absolutly no respect and they are suppose to be ‘christians’? As you can tell, we dread the ‘holidays’. What is a person to do?

  3. Paul,

    I know exactly what you mean. What are we to do? Well, I think we still have to pray for them that God will draw them into the light. Be godly around them no matter how abusive they are. That is impossible for us unless we are humble and Spirit-filled. Personally, I don’t take abuse well, nor am I as humble as I need to be and I get upset and sulky about it all. However, like you, I am a work in progress and I pray God will use these conflicts to grow me and make me unto the image of the Son. However, I would really like this phase to end soon. I so want to go home ..:-)

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  4. I can absolutely relate to what you, Mike, and Paul have said! And this is another post for my Ratliff file.:) I remember a few years back pondering a scripture (of which I will remember as soon as I submit this! ) where Paul talks of us knowing full well what we are talking about when judging. The points I got from it are these: Whenever I judge someone concerning their behavior it is because I have been there, done that, and that even if I have never ( or shall I say, not yet? ) done that, it is in my heart, which is desperately wicked, and mind. I, too, am capable of the same offence. When the urge to correct or make a judgement comes and I am not caught off-guard by not being alert ( ahem ) I try to search my own heart as to the real reason for it. Thankfully, it is because I love the person and God most of the time. But, I’ve still a long way to go in this. I so desire not to be deemed disqualified by God or the person that I may have to judge. Prayer and grace are pretty much essential, as well as keeping in mind that we can easily be snared into sin even if we are qualified in God’s eyes. Of the latter, I confess, I have not been mindful as I should have been of late.

  5. Mike and all,
    I appreciate the post. I stumbled across a teaching on this some time ago that really helped me. In essence, if I see something in a brother that is wrong, my reaction can become a plank in my own eye. First, I must examine myself, repent of my reaction, take the plank out, go to my brother and seek forgiveness for this sin and then , maybe, the opportunity to point out the speck may occur. It sure stops my mouth but not often enough.
    Family, had the same experience several weeks ago with my brother. Railed against “hypocritical” christians at length. Finally, I looked at him and asked him if I were guilty of such behavior. He quieted and said “no” but I was not able to find out what set him off. Could have been simple spritual warfare, wanting to shut me up so I would not share the gospel with family. But, alas, that didn’t happen. Often the best offense is to seek forgiveness, to ask if you have wronged that family member. Sometimes it opens a can of worms but can also open the door the conversation about the things of the Lord.
    thanks Mike.
    John FRerich

  6. Thanks Mike for your analysis. Reading your post and Sherry C’s comment explains and demonstrates how we must be constantly examining ourselves as to whether our judgments will be righteous or sinful. It’s serious stuff, and should keep us humble and repentant and dependent on God.

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” The Princess Bride (1987)
    On a lighter note, isn’t it amazing how words like ‘hypocrite’ are misused. And today, I heard a phrase on the news that is always used incorrectly: “fallen from grace”. I can guarantee that the congressman who was said to have “fallen from grace” was not trying to do good works in order to maintain a right standing before God.:-)

  7. Mike, thanks for always being so humble and open. Ignore those peoeple who call you a hypocrite; most probably they deserve the term much more. (Unless of course your offscreen life does not tally with your online personna). And I still do think you should be a pastor…

  8. Paul – You must be sure you have no reputation to defend. If they called our Lord “that fellow” we should not require respect. The family times are opportunities to shine a light in darkness even when that darkness is neither friendly or encouraging.

    Humility sometimes requires being a doormat for Christ (for reference see the Passion Week)

    Good post, Mike. We all are inconsistent and fall short, but we are not hypocrites BY GOD”S GRACE.

  9. Thanks for sharing that John. I sure recognized my own relationships with some of my family in that. We must pray for wisdom and never seek to correct or share from any motivation that would be for self-gratification. Hard to do unless we are really humble.

  10. Dale,

    Yep, I am amazed at how shallow most people are. There is no depth of character. When our words prick their conscience then they rage back at us a platform of reason that is 100% man-oriented. It seems that very few these days have any concept of what it really means to be Spirit-filled.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  11. Daniel,

    I am far from perfect. I struggle with stuff just like everyone else. You might be very surprised to learn where the inispiration for most of these articles really comes from. I fight the fight to walk in the light. I am tempted. I am provoked. I am attacked by spirits who seem to be all about despair and discouragment. I feel like a total failure at serving my Lord most of the time. However, as I examine myself continually I am also continually repenting and seeking to be Spirit-filled as I obey my Lord. I beleive that God has given me a thorn in the flesh that keeps me in this battle so I can write these posts from that perspective. That is why I long for this phase of this life to end. I want to go home to be with my Lord, but as long as I am here then I will continue to fight this fight so that God, perhaps, will speak through these words to draw His people back to Him to walk in victory as they too fight the good fight.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  12. I’ve done almost every damnable thing there be, whether in deed or in thought and have led a very shameful life according to the standard set by our Lord. Now, when I see someone (or even myself) doing something that is wrong according to God’s Word, I can easily relate to why this wrong is done because I’ve probably been there before. Do I judge their deed or their person – no, not with my heart but with the Word of God.

    As I use the Word to judge others, I must also use it to judge myself – my thoughts, deeds and motives – and I do not measure up to the Word.

    Mike, thank you for this post. It brings back to my mind a talk I gave to a small group on these same passages and the accusations of “You are judging!” that came back at me when I called a thief, a thief or a deceiver, a deceiver or adultry, adultry.

  13. Thank you for this humbling, yet encouraging article. I am recovering from the worst Thanksgiving I’ve ever had. My nephew is a proud, arrogant, boastful homosexual. My sister, who says she is a Christian, defends him. I was rescued from this same perversion, so I have first-hand knowledge. I presented the gospel to him last Thanksgiving, just him and I off in another room, so he is aware of what God’s word says. There is tension whenever he comes to family holiday gatherings, he drinks heavily, and is forever making lewd, vulgar comments. This holiday, he attacked my brother and sister-in-law, after they left of course. He made fun of them because they chose to discontinue satellite t.v. in their home, for the sake of their little children. I had had enough, and said I wasn’t going to listen to a homosexual make fun of my brother, only I used a slang term for ‘homosexual’. I apologized to my sister for the slang term, and now the family is split over this whole ordeal. My sister insists he can’t help himself, it’s genetic; which I staunchly disagree. I pray for God’s intervention in their lives, and asked for forgiveness for myself…I have not arrived and am a work in progress. It is amazing how people are offended by a slang term, yet they do not flinch when a filthy comment comes out of someone’s mouth. My sister says she is not going to go to church anymore, she really just needs to get into God’s word and see for herself what He says about the origin of sin, and homosexuality.

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  15. Laurie,

    How heartbreaking that must be for you. I am glad you shared the gospel with you nephew. We save no one. We cannot make people believe the truth. Those things are in God’s hands. He is the only one who can open the heart of someone like your sister and her son. You were rescued from homosexuality because of your regeneration. You are a new creation. Your sin nature died. You still have your flesh to deal with as we all do. In any case, be encouraged in the Lord. You did well (other than using the slang). I’m not so sure I wouldn’t have lost it myself. That does not excuse it, does it? Nope.

    Keep standing on the truth and rely on the grace of God to uphold you. Do not try to fight this battle in your own strength. You found out how well we do in that mode didn’t you?:-) Bathe that whole situation in prayer. You may even want to let your sister and nephew know you are praying for them. When you are around them, treat them as important to you. Love them. Do not compromise, but also don’t respond in kind when the obnoxiousness and evil talk starts. When it become unbearable simply leave if you can. God will use you here my sister.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  16. Mike,

    Thanks for the link to your book;-) I printed it out and look forward to studying it soon on one of these cold damp afternoons.


    I pray the Lord will draw you close to Himself and to comfort and strengthen you in this time of turmoil.

    The Word is full of encouragement for those that love Him and I’d be lost without scriptures like this:

    You will keep him in perfect peace,
    Whose mind is stayed on You,
    Because he trusts in You.
    Trust in the Lord forever,
    For in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength.
    Is 26:3-4

    Psalm 37 and 51 are special for me and have brought me through hardship and given me peace that only the Lord can give.

    In Christ,

  17. Thanks for another enlightening article Mike. It is so much easier to see these things in others than in yourself……….Our Father has helped me make so many changes in my life and in my walk with Him this past year. I am not there yet but I know He is with me and is still working on me and through me. I believe He led me to this site so I would see things more clearly so I thank you for letting Him work through you.

  18. Linda,

    You are very welcome. If you are blessed here then it is of God, not me. I pray that God will continue to draw you into the truth and mature you unto the image of the Son.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  19. This post – the article and all the comments have left me in tears. My heart is so full of sadness because of the pain expressed by all of you, but at the same time full of joy, for you are all looking to Christ – – not yourself, not the world. This is such a fine example of Victory – in Him!

    This gives me such great encouragement, for seeing and hearing of the struggles, confessing your faults – but lifting Him up. One cannot help but read and examine themselves.

    This is a beauty that the world does not recognize.

    Thanks to all of you – your honesty is refreshing. Your faith has given me strength and encouragement. I am not alone!

  20. Daniel,

    Brother, I struggle as you do. I am weak not strong. However, in our weaknesses He is strong. I see this life as one big test to prove our faith. Let us submit to our Lord’s Lordship in all things and allow Him to be strong in our weaknesses.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  21. Paul and Mike,
    Thank you so much for the kind and uplifting words. They blessed me tremendously, that is just what I needed. I pray God will bless you both, just as He has blessed me through you.

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