“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.”
We come to the third ugly word – “hypocrisy.” The word “hypocrisy” comes from two words: “to answer” and “under.” The Greek and Roman world used this word for answering from under a mask. This is a person who makes judgment from behind a cover. He hides his true identity. This word came to mean the acting of a stage-actor; hence the meaning dissembling or pretense. This person acts behind a mask.
It was a custom for Greek and Roman actors to speak in large masks with mechanical devices for augmenting the force of the voice; hence the word became used metaphorically of a dissembler, a hypocrite. A hypocrite is one who plays a part on the stage. He is a player, actor, pretender, dissembler, hypocrite, one who pretends to be other than he really is. He plays the part of someone he is not.
“Hypocrisy” is translated as “dissimulation” in Galatians 2:13. The author of this book of First Peter played the hypocrite himself. Peter played the part of a legalist. He did not have the courage to put the principle of grace into practice. He betrayed the principle of freedom, so Paul called him a hypocrite.
Hypocrites pretend piety. They are two-faced, carrying a sweet front. This is an outward show, a phony front, a façade. This person is more interested in the public practices of a church than the heart of Christianity. His interest is to present a front to everyone else in the congregation. This person complies with overt standards and totally disregards character. He is more interested in taboos set up by an organization, a morality system, or a series of mores.
“Hypocrisies” is plural and comprehends all sorts of hypocrisies. In matters of religion, hypocrisy is counterfeit piety. In regular conversation, hypocrisy can counterfeit true friendship. Often those who are free with compliments that they do not mean fit this category. They pretend friendship when a scheme lies in their hearts.
The hypocrite is afraid of himself. He does not dare show himself as he is. His fear of criticism compels him to wear a mask. He is the opposite of a courageous person. He is afraid to reveal who he is. He is a double person, natural and artificial. The Lord Jesus was the opposite. He was open and above-board. God wants us to be ourselves and not hide behind the mask of another personality.
One of the outstanding examples of hypocrisy in the Bible is the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. They pretended to be generous, but they were putting on an act; their last one! They held out on God. They pretended generosity. This was not real, and God killed them for it. They sinned unto physical death (1 John 5:16). Some of us are good actors. We can put on a mask, and no one knows who is behind the mask. “Did he really mean that?” “Are they for real?”
God wants us to be an open book.
Do you pretend to have a devotion you do not possess? Hypocrisy will put a crimp in your work for the Lord.
Sooner or later, our pretense will be exposed. God will unmask the hypocrite, and what a sight it will be!
Are you genuine? Are you confident enough to show yourself for who you are? Christianity requires that we are open and aboveboard with others. God wants us to be ourselves and not hide behind a mask of another personality.
Are you an open book? Are you open and above board? Are you for real?