The author is against all sin. I agree totally with Paul.
What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Romans 6:15 ESV
Does it concern you when the Bible states that hypocrites will not enter the Kingdom of God? After all, even believers still sin. Aren’t Christians supposed to be like Jesus and never sin to be free from the title of a hypocrite?
Did you know that Jesus, nor any of the Apostles, ever called Christ followers who fell into what is commonly called sin, a hypocrite? While there was plenty of opportunity for Jesus and the Apostles to call believers hypocrites for sinning, they never did. Jesus could have surely called Peter a hypocrite for denying him three times when he swore he would not. Paul could have called some in the Corinthian church hypocrites for their sexual sins, but instead, he called them Saints while reminding them of who they were and instructing them in a better way.
What can we learn from this? Why didn’t Jesus call Peter a hypocrite? Why don’t we see the Apostles calling Christians who fell into obvious sin, hypocrites? Who best fits God's definition of a hypocrite in the New Testament and today?
5273 hypokritḗs (a masculine noun derived from 5259 /hypó, "under" and 2919 /krínō, "judge") – properly, a judging under, like a performer acting under a mask (i.e. a theater-actor); (figuratively) a two-faced person; a "hypocrite," whose profession does not match their practice – i.e. someone who "says one thing but does another." http://biblehub.com/greek/5273.htm
Let’s examine the traits of those whom Jesus and the Apostles called hypocrites and those they never called hypocrites. Keeping in mind this line from the definition: " someone who says one thing but does another."
1) In the Bible, the title of a hypocrite is used almost exclusively for the Pharisee’s. The Pharisee’s acted holy and self-righteous, as though they never sinned. They passed judgment on others while justifying themselves by comparison. They claimed they were right with God based on their actions. They claimed that if a person was not as good as them, they could not be right with God. They professed their own goodness, telling others what they should be doing, how to act, how not to act, to be right with God. At the same time, they were often doing just the opposite of what they were saying when no one was looking. Jesus pointed this out often and called them hypocrites and white-washed tombs full of dead man’s bones.
2) A Christian was never called a hypocrite by Jesus or the Apostles for the commission of sins as many think. To be a Christian, a person had to first see themselves in truth with regards to God’s law and readily admit they could not keep God’s perfect law in thought, word and deed. They must then fall on the mercy and grace of God to be made right with God by faith. Because they do not rely on their own righteousness, they do not need to justify themselves by comparing themselves to others like the Pharisee’s. They are then instructed to go forth and tell the entire world the message of the gospel, and say how they were made right with God and how others can be too. They are to tell others that no one can be right with God by keeping the law, we can only be saved by grace through faith. In the born again Christians message, there is no chance for hypocrisy since they readily admit they cannot keep the law.
Therefore, a true follower in Christ, proclaiming their inability to keep the law and need for the Savior, while telling others the same, cannot be a hypocrite.
Our number two category could hold hidden hypocrites (actually unbelievers) in the gospel if:
1)They do not believe the gospel themselves while telling others they must believe.
2)The other possibility is that the speaker could be presenting a false message like we see presented to the Galatians. A message that says you must believe in Jesus and in addition you must keep the law of Moses to be saved. In this case, not only is the speaker preaching a false gospel as Paul tells us in Galatians, they are for certain a hypocrite because it is impossible to keep the letter of God’s law in thought, word, and deed.
Acting Like the Message is About Our Ability to Keep the Law, When We Know it is Not, is Hypocrisy
Interestingly, there is one place in the New Testament (Galatians) where the act of hypocrisy is implied for Peter’s actions by Paul. However, it is not when Peter fell into outright and obvious acts that we would see as the trademark of a sinner. It is when Peter who has been living outside of the law as a Gentile, not obeying the Old Covenant law of Moses, acts like he is a law-keeping Jew when the religious Jews show up.
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” Gal 2:11-14 ESV
Note what Paul says: But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel (Gal 2:14a ESV).
Think of what the book of Galatians is about, not adding the law back in as an addition to the gospel to be saved. It clearly tells us sin is not what leads a person to fall from grace, it is going back to the law for justification that produces a fall from grace.
You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. Gal 5:4 ESV
By doing what Peter was doing, he was sending a message of confusion, (not in step with the truth as Paul states) to the Gentiles by his actions. He was professing one thing to the Gentiles and now doing another when the Jews showed up. That is in perfect alignment with the definition of hypocrisy used in the Bible.
Unfortunately, as Christians today, we regularly do the same thing as Peter. We often avoid overt sinners, especially when other believers are around. The particular people that Jesus and the Disciples sought and offered the gospel too. When we do get around them, we act like we now have the ability to keep the law while in private we often break it in thought, word or deed, just like the Pharisee's. Our religious actions before these unsaved people, coupled with the fact that we seldom present the actual gospel message of saving grace through faith alone with words, would be hypocrisy in Pauls' eyes. By our actions alone, the only message we communicate to the unsaved is that it is all about rules and regulations. Therefore, the unsaved call us hypocrites when they see us fail. They have concluded from our actions that it is about not sinning and being perfect. If it were about rule keeping Jesus and the disciples would have called believers hypocrites too.
Paul did not act like he could keep all the rules. These verses tell us that he sought to fit in with all and find common ground to preach the gospel. Paul boasted in his weakness.
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 1 Cor 9:19-23 ESV
When Paul speaks of weakness in the above and below verses, he is talking about man's inability to keep the law, in other words sinning. The law is holy, just and good but we are the weak link.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Heb 4:15 ESV
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, Rom 8:3 ESV
In boasting of his weakness, I argue that Paul was telling people that even today as a preacher of the gospel, I still cannot keep God's law and that is why I need Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Therefore, we could not call Paul a hypocrite.
To be like Paul, we should be ourselves, do the best we can without being religious and judgmental, and tell the unsaved that we still cannot keep God's law in thought, word and deed even as Christians. This is exactly why we need Jesus. We should be reminding them that we never said we were Jesus, we said we need Jesus and they do too. We should present the gospel message with words, the only way it can be presented.
Did you know that Jesus nor the apostles ever called a believer a sinner?
Believers are Never Called Sinners in the New Testament
Good follow-up to this studies: These People Will Not Inherit the Kingdom of God & Jesus Never Called a Believer a Hypocrite
Many more New Covenant studies here: http://www.faithwriters.com/article-details.php?id=182464