27 Jun Christians Might Be Crazy #3 – Hypocrisy
– All right, this is gonna be fun. Usually we go through books of the Bible. We’ve just finished John, after Easter. We’re gonna jump into a book called Galatians. We had a little time to kill, so I thought we get in some trouble, amen? You’re gonna get in some trouble today, this is gonna be fun. We’re gonna talk about hypocrites. So if you’re a hypocrite, what a good day. It’s specifically for you. Now, what I wanted to do is I wanted to figure out what do people think about Christ and Christianity? ‘Cause everybody’s yelling at everybody, nobody’s listening to anybody. Everybody’s talking about somebody, nobody’s talking with somebody. So what we did, we commissioned a research study survey and here’s what we found. We first did 913,000 random digital dial phone calls. I’ll just set it up quickly, some of you are new, catch you up to speed. Somebody asked this week, “Pastor Mark, did you make those calls?” No I’m a grown man, I don’t talk on the phone. We called 913,000 people, boiled it down to 1,000 people ages 18 to 44, median age of 31, average interview, 12 minutes; trying to figure out what are your objections to or questions of the Christian faith? I come to find that about 25% were unchurched meaning they have never been in a church, no experience. If you’re new, welcome, we’re glad to have you. 75% were dechurched, meaning at some point they attended maybe like when they were a kid grandma brought them but they’ve hit the eject button and not been back in years. That being said, here are the findings of the survey. The top seven objections to Christianity, it’s all in the book, you can get it on your way out. It’s free, lower your expectations, you get what you paid for. But this week- We dealt Week one with intolerance. And what I found was in the data that actually the primary objection to Christianity is one issue, intolerance. And then it plays itself out in various arenas, spirituality and religion, morality, politics, things of that sort and kind. But as you see, issues exploded in the media. The issue under the issues is always intolerance. Number two is sexuality. Number three is politics, we hit that last week. Number four is morality. Many Christians are hypocrites. We’re gonna deal with that this week. Religion, there are lots of religions, I’m not sure only one has to be the right way. We’ll deal with that on Easter Sunday. Equality, Christians believe that all people are not created equal. And authority, I don’t share the beliefs of the Christian faith according to the Bible tells me that I should. Those are the top seven objections. That was the data. Then I wanted to figure out, well what are the conversations around those who would have the complications with Christianity? So we commissioned four focus groups in four cities, male and female. Male and female in each of the four cities, eight groups altogether. So we were in the people’s Republic of San Francisco, Austin, Boston, and also Phoenix, a great town, welcome to it. The discussion groups were 18 to 44 with an emphasis on those that are ages 25 to 34. They met for two hours with a facilitator who does this professionally. At that time, they had overseen 1,700 discussions, took all of these people’s conversations, transcribed them into 400 pages of transcripts, read through them over and over and over. The people who took the survey and the focus group members, they were different. They were not the same focus group of people. So as a result, what we found is they both came to the same conclusions and had the same conversations. And so today, what I want to talk about is the issue of morality where 45% of the people said that their objection to the Christian faith is quote, “many Christians are hypocrites.” How many of you have heard this? A woman in our focus group says, “They’re telling me that I need to live in a certain way. And they’re not.” A man says of Christians on social media, “Are you living the life or you just tooting the horn?” So this is the primary objection by 45%. Why should I consider Christianity? You say you’re a Christian, you don’t even live as a Christian. You’re all a bunch of hypocrites. Why would I join a bunch of hypocrites? And I would say, “Well, you’re a hypocrite too. There’s always room for one more, welcome to our team.” Nonetheless, I want to deal with this issue. And so first what we need to establish is what is the core message of Christianity? See, hypocrisy is not living up to the core message. So before we hit the issue of hypocrisy, we need to hit the core message. And what I found in the focus groups is that a lot of people don’t know what the core message of Christianity is. Some said, well, the core message of Christianity is that we’re supposed to tolerate everybody. That’s not what it says. I read the whole Bible, that’s not what it says. And one person said, the core message of Christianity is thou shall not judge. No it’s not, that’s not what it says, okay? That’s not what it says. That’s not the core message. So it’s important that we establish the core message and then consider whether Christians are consistent or inconsistent with our core message. So here is the center of Christianity. The core message of Christianity is Christ. It’s about Jesus Christ. It’s not about you or me or us or them. It’s all about him. And so this section in 1 Corinthians 15 is from the Bible. It is considered by most scholars to be an early church creed. 1 Corinthians was one of the first, if not the first book of the New Testament that was written. And as a result, this was the summary of early Christian conviction. And here’s what a guy named Paul has to say, “I would remind you.” So the core message of Christianity and the person and work of Jesus Christ, we forget it, so we need to be reminded. Some of you don’t know about Christ, so we’ll tell you for the first time. Some of you know about Christ, but how many of you realize you can sort of forget about Jesus? You can get so overwhelmed with your life and your job and your family and politics and responsibilities and the fact that the Diamondbacks are giving up more points than the Cardinals can score. You’ve got all these things on your mind, that’s what’s on my heart today, I’m praying for both teams. Now what happens is you get so overwhelmed, all of a sudden at the end of your day, you’re like, I haven’t talked to Jesus or read the Bible. I forgot about God today. All right, so we need to be reminded, brothers. And what Christianity creates is a new family. Women are like sisters, men are like brothers. We love each other, we do life together. We call that the family of God. “Of the gospel,” this is good news. Gospel literally means good news. We live in a world filled with lots of? Bad news. How many of you can’t watch the news before you go to bed? Because you just have nightmares all night. It’s so horrifying what is happening in the world. Well, Christianity is about good news. There is a God, he loves you. He forgives you, he saves you. He changes you, he has a destiny for you. He’s coming again to judge the living and the dead. The world as you know it has an expiration date. Things are gonna get better, just hang in there. There’s lots of good news for the children of God “that I preached to you.” The core message of Christianity is not something that can be shown. It must be said. Must be said. God wants us to love people. So it’s great to dig a well so they have fresh water. To make a sandwich so they have a bite to eat. To do all we can to alleviate human suffering in its various forms. But ultimately, you don’t understand Jesus unless somebody explains that to you. Because the core message of Christianity is about Jesus. He lived, he died, he rose. Ultimately that needs to be explained, and said, it can’t be shown or demonstrated. Deeds are great but the declaration is what’s important about Jesus, “which you received.” So people will talk about Jesus and then you need to make a personal decision. That is, I will receive this information about Jesus, and I will enter into this relationship with him. Something you need to receive. It’s a gift that’s given but like every gift, you need to receive it. “In which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preach to you.” What he’s saying is once you’ve received this message about the person and work of Jesus Christ, you’ve got to continue in it. 26 years ago, I married my wife, Grace. We made a decision on that day, but that decision needs to continue every day, right? So it is in the relationship with Jesus. One day, maybe today, you make a decision. I want to be a Christian, I want a relationship with Jesus. You’ve received him, but then you need to continue in that relationship with him. That’s what he’s saying. Christianity is not just something that you make a decision one day at camp or one day under sort of a guilty conscience to get some sort of fire insurance so that at the end of your life you don’t have to worry. It’s a life-changing, soul-altering, eternity-framing decision, and it’s one that begins in the day you make a decision, but it never ends. That’s the relationship with Jesus. “Unless you’ve believed in vain.” What he’s saying is what good is it to start something you don’t intend on finishing? What good is it to enter into a relationship that you don’t commit or devote yourself to? “For I delivered to you a first importance.” And what he’s saying here is that some things are more important than others. Not everything is equally important, that some things rise to the category of first importance, preeminence, significance. In the history of the world, just think of all the information, all the books you could read, all the classes you could take, all the blogs you could visit, all the social media you could follow, all the news you could devote yourself to, out of all of that information, there is some information that rises to the top as first importance and everything else is of varying degrees of lesser importance. So here’s what’s most important. And you wouldn’t know it was most important in our schools ’cause they’re not talking about Jesus. You wouldn’t know it was most important in our culture because it’s not focused on Jesus. Our job, our responsibility, our opportunity as the people of God is to make sure that that which is of the most importance, this information about Jesus, is what we’re always talking about because nobody else is talking about it. “First importance what I also received.” What he’s saying here is that this message of Jesus is not something that he created. It’s something instead that was created by God and received by him. Christianity is not to be edited. It is not to be altered. It is not to be changed. There is not a new version of Christianity for every generation. Christianity believes that morality is like math. It’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. The message of Christianity is like math. We don’t change it. We don’t alter it. We don’t edit it. It comes from God. We receive it, we pass it on to the next generation, and then they pass it on to the next generation. And there are no modifications to that which is true about the person and work of Jesus. This is important because every generation wants to be God’s editors, not God’s messengers. Hey God, you got it close. We went to college, we took a vote, we feel like you’re a little outdated. We have an upgraded version for you. How many of you hate the Microsoft software updates? I do, amen? Every time I turn, oh we have an update. We have an update, we have an update. Jesus never sends you an update. He got it right the first time, okay? Thank you, Jesus, okay? Okay, I just made that up. All right, here we go. ‘Cause I’m really frustrated with that, I can never get anything done, it’s always an update. So here’s what it is, “that Christ,” so it’s about who? The center of Christianity is Christ. Center of Christianity is Christ. He what? He died. He died, this is a historical fact. He died. Why did he die? “For our sins.” For our sins. Jesus died for you, that’s the bottom line. You live for Jesus because he died for you, that’s the bottom line. Christ died for our sins. For our sins. So what this says is we’re all sinners. We’re all sinners. And in our culture tends to say, well, I’m a good person. God doesn’t see it that way. God sees perfect and imperfect. He sees sinners and one savior, Jesus Christ. Those are the teams in categories. Christ died on the cross. Jesus died, God died for your sins, for our sins, according to the? Scriptures. So ultimately what it’s saying is this is the book that God wrote. It’s all true. It’s only true. It’s always true. You can trust it. And the central message of the scriptures is Jesus Christ died for your sins. That’s the big idea. So you’re a sinner, you need a savior. You have a problem, Jesus is your solution. God tells you the truth. You need to receive his gift of salvation through his son, Jesus Christ. That’s the big idea, that’s the bottom line. “That he was buried.” It just proves and shows and demonstrates he was really dead. “That he was raised on the third day.” What day was that? Sunday. That’s why Jewish people stopped worshiping on Saturdays, as they had for a millennia; started worshiping on Sunday ’cause God made everything new with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “In accordance with the scriptures.” Keeps coming back to the Bible. The Bible said Jesus was coming. The Bible said Jesus would live without sin. The Bible said that Jesus would die on the cross for our sins. The Bible says that Jesus would be buried. The Bible says that three days later Jesus was rising from death. The whole Bible predicted, prophesied in advance exactly who Jesus is, exactly what Jesus would do. It all came to pass, it was all true because the same God who wrote this book rules the future, okay? He was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures and that he appeared to a guy named Cephas or Peter, and then to the 12. After he died, he rose and people saw him. Christianity is not based on speculation. It’s based on revelation. It’s not based on philosophy. It’s based on history. It’s not fictitious. It is factual. Jesus lived, that’s a fact. Jesus died, that’s a fact. Jesus rose, that’s a fact. No one else has done that, that’s a fact. That makes Jesus unusual, unique, amazing, awesome. ‘Cause we’re all gonna die. And we wonder what’s on the other side of death? Jesus goes, there comes back and says, follow me, I know to get you to the other side. Story continues. “Then he appeared to more than 500 people at a time.” Just so you know, that’s a tremendously strong argument. If 500 people all see the same thing, it happened. “Most of whom are still alive.” When this was written, he’s like, and a lot of them haven’t died yet. It’s only been a couple of years, go interview them for yourself. Right there in churches, giving testimony. I saw Jesus risen from death, that’s amazing. “Though some have fallen asleep.” That is the language for God’s people dying. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. To live is Christ, to die is gain. The worst thing that happens to you is not death, but death apart from Christ. If you died with Jesus, it’s an upgrade, right? It’s moving on to a better place. It’s an awesome thing to fall asleep in this life, close your eyes, and then open your eyes, and to see Jesus face-to-face, okay? Then he appeared to James. That’s his brother. How many of you don’t worship your brother as God, amen? You’re like, no, they gave me wedgies and I have PTSD. I don’t worship them. His brother was a devout Jewish guy who ended up worshiping his own brother Jesus as God. James and Jude were Jesus’ two brothers, they go on to write books of the Bible bearing their name. Jesus’ own mother, Mary, is numbered among the members of the early church in the opening chapters of the Book of Acts. Before Jesus rose from death, his family thought he had lost his mind, right? Because he says he’s God. How many of you, if your brother says he’s God, you’re gonna try and bring them home, right? Take his phone from him. No more talking to people, you’re saying crazy stuff. But then if he rises from death, you’re like, well, there you go, you know? That’s what happened. That’s what happened. “Last of all, as to one untimely born, he also appeared to me.” Who is this writing? His name is Paul, Saul of Tarsus. Did he love or hate Christians? He hates them, he murders them. He is the Bin Laden of the New Testament. He is the Hussein of the New Testament. He is the Hitler of the New Testament. And all of a sudden he goes from murdering Christians, to being murdered as a Christian; to opposing church leaders, to being a church leader. He was not predisposed in any way. At first, the early Christians, they wondered is this true? How many of you, if this was the case, right? You got a life group this week, guy shows up. What’s your name? Bin Laden. Oh, oh what are you doing here? Well, let’s all close our eyes and pray. No, uh-uh, uh-uh. No. No. No, uh-uh. I ain’t closing no eyes, right? We’re here for Jesus, you’re probably here for John. I ain’t closing my eyes. That’s what they thought of Paul. They were very worried about him. But they found that he really had seen Jesus risen from death and he really did become a Christian. Because here’s the good news. God could forgive anybody, God could save anybody, God could change anybody, amen? That’s what he does. He says, “I was unworthy to be called.” He says, “For I am the least of the apostles unworthy to be called an apostle because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God,” you’re saved by grace. It’s a gift, it’s not what you deserve. It’s what Jesus earns, not what you earn. It’s a gift that you receive. Jesus is the greatest gift that’s ever been given. Jesus gives himself, he gives his life. He gives his death, he gives his burial. He gives us resurrection, he gives us righteousness. He gives us reconciled relationship with God. Jesus is amazing. Nobody’s like Jesus, nobody does what Jesus does. Jesus is all about grace. That’s what he’s about. And what Paul says, “I got grace and his grace was not in vain.” What Paul is saying is Jesus changed my life. How many of you, you say, that’s my story. Jesus changed my life. Jesus changed my life. So here’s the core message of Christianity. It’s all about Jesus Christ. It’s about him, not about you. That the center of the Bible is God, not us. That we are all sinners, that we need a savior, that a savior has come, his name is Jesus. He lived without sin. He died for our sin. He rose to conquer Satan, sin, death, hell, the wrath of God. He saves by grace. No one is beyond the grace of God. And when you encounter Jesus, you are, my friend, changed, transformed, and made new. Whoo! That’s awesome. That’s good news, amen? That’s good news in a world filled with bad news. So the center of Christianity is Christ. Now why do I say this? Because in looking at the data, many people don’t know this, number one, some people have never been to church. So they don’t understand the core message of Christianity. Here’s what one guy in San Francisco says, “In terms of actual memory in a church, I can’t really think of any.” The moderator asks, “Well, what are your experiences at church?” Like, I don’t know. I don’t know, I don’t know. Let me ask you a question. What’s your favorite Chick-Fil-A sauce? Chick-Fil-A sauce, pretty good. Polynesian. We all know the Chick-Fil-A is best for the sandwich, Polynesian is best for the fries. We all know that, okay? Do you know why we know that? You know why we know that? We’ve been to Chick-Fil-A. What’s the central message of Scientology? I don’t know, Polynesian sauce? I don’t know, you know, I don’t know. Do you know why? We’ve not been there, right? You can’t expect somebody who’s never been somewhere to know what it’s all about, amen? So you invite people to church but you need to be like the tour guide. Okay, we’re gonna get in the car, we’re gonna go somewhere, and we’re gonna park and we’re gonna come in. And then you’re gonna sit down and then he’s gonna yell and then he’s gonna yell some more and then he’s gonna yell again. And then a happy guy is gonna play guitar and then we’re gonna go have lunch, okay? You got to explain how this is gonna go, amen? Right, brother? Right, yeah, I mean, okay, okay. Number two, some people don’t know what a Christian is. Can you blame them? No. Here’s what the focus groups consider Christianity. Jehovah’s Witnesses, which is a cult. Some of you are in it and you’re like, I’m in a cult? I hate to break the news to you, you’re in a cult, okay? Get out. Okay, now number two, some said that Christians include libertarianism which is a political ideology. Some mentioned Scientology. We’re this close to being Scientologists, just so you know. Some mentioned Hinduism, others mentioned Buddhism; two different world religions. Some people said that Christianity included Wicca, which is? What the heck, that’s right! Witchcraft. What, Christian witches? That’s like vegan butchers. What the heck? What the heck, what the heck? What the heck, what the heck? What the heck? My favorite, they talked about the Mormons and they called them the evangelical Christians on bikes. No, no, that’s not our team. So some people have never been to church. Some people don’t know what a Christian is. Some people don’t even know a Christian. Does that kind of shock you? Here’s what a guy in Phoenix said, “I’ve never known an evangelical Christian personally.” Todd Johnson, he runs the Center for Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Seminary He did a big survey, it’s in the book. He says that 1 in 5, 20% of people, think of a Toyota Camry, five seat belts, one of those people has never met a Christian. Okay so my guess is they may have met a Christian but the Christian was in the closet, hasn’t come out of the closet yet, hasn’t told them that they’re a Christian. But all that to say, of course, people have misperceptions of Christianity. They’ve never been to church, they don’t know what a Christian is, and they don’t know a Christian. You can’t blame them. Let’s just befriend them and talk to them. Now, so where do they get their views of what a Christian is? The media. The media. So let’s talk about this, ’cause I got nothing else to do. All right, the media is primarily in cities that are anti or not friendly toward faith and family. Cities like Los Angeles or New York. I’ve dealt with the media a lot over the course of 20 plus years. I’ve been on CNN a few times, I’ve done ABC Nightline a few times. I’ve been whacked like a pinata on major outlets. You know, I’ve made the rounds. And I can only remember in my 20 plus years of dealing with the media, actually being interviewed within the mainstream media by one person who was a Christian. So the media tends to be statistically not friendly toward faith and family. In addition, we live in a day when a lot of media and social media is driven by ad revenue based upon click rates. So anything that’s scandalous, that gets attention, tends to pay the bills. Well, that’s not the best way to come to reality and truth. In addition, there’s something that I’ll tell you about called a negative narrative. A negative narrative is, if you don’t like someone or something, you establish a negative narrative, and all data gets filtered through the negative narrative, reinforcing the negative narrative, right? We’re now aware of this socially, culturally, politically because we’re tribalized. And it’s idolized, demonized, right? We’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys. Well, this happened to the Lord Jesus. The negative narrative set for Jesus was, he’s a bad guy, he’s a liar, he’s evil. That’s what his critics said, is this negative narrative. So Jesus goes out one day and he heals a bunch of people. That’s awesome, right? If you’re healed, you’re like, I like that guy. No deductible, that’s amazing, right? No deductible. So what happens is this guy gets healed and what’s the negative narrative? He heals by Beelzebub, the prince of demons. He healed somebody, and they made a negative narrative. They interpreted the data according to the negative narrative. This still happens. And you need to know that libel and slander laws don’t equally apply to private citizens versus public figures. I didn’t know this. There were some years ago, things were being said about me, I was totally frustrated, had no basis in reality. So I called a really good attorney and I’m like, “Okay, I’m sick of it, what can I do?” He’s like, “You’re a public figure, not much.” I said, “Why is that?” He said, “Private citizens, they have slander and libel laws. But for public figures, those are not the same standards.” That’s why you can say anything you want about a political leader, a religious leader, a public figure, athlete, musician, actor, actress, because they’re public figures. So libel and slander laws don’t equally apply to them. So you can kind of say whatever you want. And the odds of anything happening are much lower and smaller. So all of that to say, the core message of Christianity is Christ. Many people don’t know the core message. They’ve never been to church. They don’t know a Christian. Have never even heard anything about Jesus. So what is our opportunity? I’m a Christian, I’d like to have a relationship with you. Here’s the Bible. Read it, check out the core message. Furthermore, if you want to come to church, I’ll bring you, amen? And I’ll be like a tour guide that explains things, ’cause for you, it’s entering into a different culture, a place you’ve never been. So let me help reduce the barriers to entry and help you understand. That being said, when we establish the core message of Christianity, then the question is, what is a hypocrite? ‘Cause a hypocrite would be one that is not living consistent and congruent with the core message of Christianity. So what is the hypocrite? Number one, and in this, I looked at it in the New Testament. So there’s the Old Testament written before Jesus comes, the New Testament written after Jesus comes. In the New Testament, the word for hypocrite appears in my studies 27 times. Let me tell you what it is, it’s an old Greek word and it means an actor playing a role. So in ancient Greek drama, an actor or an actress would come out and they’d wear a mask to hide their true selves and pretend to be someone they’re not. And so that word hypocrite literally is someone who is hiding who they really are and pretending to be someone that they’re not. It’s intentional, it’s malicious, it’s deceptive, it’s fakery and forgery. That being said, hypocrites lives for the approval of people, not God. The person who talks about hypocrisy the most, who do you think it is? Jesus. Jesus. He says this in Matthew 6, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet.” Boy, can you imagine that if we took the offering, and each one of you that gave, got to blow a trumpet? Tony here giving now, here’s my $7.57. Yay Tony, good job, Tony. What this is, this is drawing attention to yourself, away from God. And it’s living, not for an audience of one, but living for the audience of others. This is people pleasing, fear of man. This is living for approval ratings. “When you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you give, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. They love to stand and pray in the synagogues and street corners that they may be,” what? Seen by others. A hypocrite is one who is publicly one thing and privately another. That’s the mask wearing. When I’m home, I don’t pray. I don’t read the Bible, I don’t love Jesus. I don’t have a relationship with God. I’m not generous toward people. Boy, but when other people are looking, I’m playing the role. Look at how generous I am, look how moral I am. Look at how pious I am. It’s a difference between public and private. And they’re not living privately for God, they’re living publicly for others. Now if we’re Christians, we could say we’ve all been to some degree guilty of this, amen? You’re like, well, I’m in Starbucks, I should pull my Bible out. Declare it to all the lost people that I’m here now. Okay, so. That’s fine to read your Bible at Starbucks if you also read it at home. That’s consistency. That’s not playing a role publicly that you’re not practicing privately. Number two, a hypocrite does not have a heart change by God. Matthew 15:7, 8, 9, Jesus says, “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy,” 700 years before he quotes Isaiah, “when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. In vain they worship me teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” What he’s saying is lip service is easy, lifestyle is hard. You could say one thing, do another. Now what it says in the Bible repeatedly is that man looks at the outward and God looks at the heart. How many of you have become a Christian and you know that God has given you a new heart? I used to love sin, now I hate it. I used to hate obeying God’s word, now that’s what I want to do. I’m in a struggle, I’m in a fight, but my heart has been changed. And because my heart has been changed, my life is now in a change process. God works inwardly, outwardly, changes me in here, and then things start to change out here. Jesus looks and he says you’re faking it out here, there’s not really faith in here. You’re great with the lip service, you’re not great with the lifestyle. That’s a hypocrite. Number three, the hypocrite, this is a flip of the script, my friend. A hypocrite is a non-Christian pretending to be a Christian. Here’s how Jesus says it in Matthew, 23:15, “Woe to you hypocrites!” Now the first sermon, the primary objection was what? Intolerance. Do you think the hypocrites found this intolerant? They did, right? You can’t name me, you’re a hypocrite. That’s what Jesus says. Well who are you? God. You think you’re better than me? I’m sure of it. You know, so. “Woe to you hypocrites! For your travel across the sea,” you raise money, Aunt Sally gives you a check, you go on a mission trip. You put all the photos on Instagram to make a single proselyte. Yay, somebody converted! And when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice the son of, or a child of hell as you are. You don’t know God and you’re pretending to be a Christian. That’s a hypocrite. This is a mind blow for me. When I looked at Jesus rebuking hypocrites, it was the non-Christians who were pretending to love God. It was not the Christians who were not living in accordance with their core convictions. It was the people who didn’t know Jesus who were saying we believe in God. Jesus was like you don’t believe in me. We follow God, you don’t follow me. We trust God, you don’t trust me. We listen to God, you don’t listen to me. Jesus is saying I’m God, and if you’re pretending to love, know, serve or follow God, and that is not me, you are a hypocrite pretending to be in a relationship with God. And we don’t have a relationship because I’m God. There was a guy like this on Jesus’ team. What was his name? Judas Iscariot. Jesus had 12 guys. One was a dud, his name was Judas. If you just looked at them, you would think he’s a Christian. He’s with Jesus for three years, he’s there for the miracles and the baptisms and the healings. He’s there for all of it. And in the end he betrays Jesus, he destroys Jesus. Judas was the only hypocrite among the 12. Peter was a sinner, he had some problems, right? Thomas was a sinner, he had some problems. But only one was a hypocrite, that was Judas. He was pretending to be a Christian but he had not possessed saving faith. So he’s pretending something that he doesn’t possess. He’s faking. He’s faking. Let me say this, I was a hypocrite before I became a Christian. I’ll give you my story since we’re talking about hypocrites. So here’s my story. So I grew up kinda going to church sometimes. Was baptized in the Catholic church as a baby, my parents would take me on occasion. As I got older, I had no use or interest in the Bible, Jesus, Christianity. Nobody’s fault. I just didn’t care. I didn’t have a new heart. I didn’t know God, I didn’t love God. And I didn’t want to be under authority. So I meet this wonderful girl at the age of 17 in high school. She’s a pastor’s daughter. And I said, “Hey, you wanna hang out, you wanna go out? Let’s spend some time together.” She basically says, “Well, are you a Christian? I said, “Well, does that matter?” She said, “Yes, I’m a Christian. My dad’s a pastor. I only could be in a relationship with a Christian.” I was like, “Well sister, praise the Lord, praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. See it’s funny ’cause it wasn’t your daughter, right? If it was my daughter, I’d be doing prison ministry from the inside, right? So you don’t do that, okay? What I was doing was pretending to be a Christian so that I could have a relationship with Grace. And then she gave me a Bible and I started reading it and I realized I’m a hypocrite. And so I actually do become a Christian and we’ve been together 30 years. So God is gracious and he does forgive. But that’s a hypocrite. Somebody who isn’t a Christian but is pretending to be one, and it’s very confusing. That was me. Number four, a hypocrite is warned by Jesus of judgment, Matthew 23. And he says it over and over and over. “Woe to you.” “Woe to you.” “Woe to you.” “Woe to you.” “Woe to you.” “Woe to you.” “Woe to you.” And this is a warning. This is God’s way of pulling the fire alarm. This is God’s way of getting attention, right? Hey, this is a serious, significant problem. Let me say this. No one, hear me in this, if you’re not a Christian, I love you. No one lives up to even their own standard of morality, amen? If you ask the average non-Christian, they’re like, you should love people. Well can I interview everybody in your life and see if you’ve violated that? Oh no, don’t call my ex-wife. Do not call my ex-wife. Well, people should be generous and help the poor. Really? Can we run the numbers and see what percent you give? Well hey, don’t judge brother, you know? No one lives up to their own standard. And as Christians, we know we don’t live up to God’s standard. And for those who would say that they have kept their standard in God’s standard, Jesus says woe to you, you’re not dealing with reality. You have some shortcomings, faults, flaws, and failures. You are a sinner, you need a savior. Woe to you, you’re living in harm’s way. So let me explain something, and that is the difference between a sinner and a hypocrite. A sinner and a hypocrite. I’ll give you two verses Romans 3:23, “Who has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God?” All. Do you know what all means in the Greek? All, okay? That’s what it means. Do you know who that is? Everybody. Now the person you came here with, you’re like, yeah, they are a sinner. They’re thinking the same thing, okay? The people on both sides of you, sinner. Fallen short of God’s standard of perfection. The Bible says to be holy as God is holy. None of us can say, landed the dismount, nailed it, did it! You’re welcome. We’ve all sinned. There is a different kind of sinner though called a hypocrite. The Bible says that everybody is a sinner but not everybody is a hypocrite. Matthew 7:5, he speaks to the hypocrites, Jesus does, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” So there’s a difference between a sinner and a hypocrite. How many of you Christians didn’t know this? And this is the conversation stopper in our culture. Oh, you sinned? You’re a hypocrite, shut up. You have no right to talk about anything. You’re like, well, we’re all sinners. I guess we all should just, you know, be mimes for the rest of our life and not talk about anything. This paralyzes Christians, this discourages Christians. There is a difference, hear me in this, between a sinner and a hypocrite. Everybody’s a sinner, not everybody’s a hypocrite. So I’ve got a couple of distinctions. I interviewed for the project a Christian philosopher thinker named Greg Koukl, he said this, all people are sinners, all hypocrites are sinners, not all sinners are hypocrites. If you went to public school, think about that for a minute. That’s kinda deep, amen? You’re like, huh? I like the joke part. My head hurts. Think about it, okay? All people are sinners, all hypocrites are sinners. Not all sinners are hypocrites. That means some of you Christians, you’re a sinner, but you’re not a hypocrite. You need to know that there’s a distinction. And what Satan will do is he’ll try and confuse you and make those synonymous. Number two, a sinner fights to live up to God’s word. A hypocrite fakes living up to God’s word. What’s the difference between fighting versus faking? Fighting is saying, God is perfect, and I want to be like Jesus and there’s always room for improvement. Faking is saying, I’m not even gonna try but I’m gonna pretend so that others will think that I’m someone that I’m not. The Christians that I know, they’re fighting to become like Jesus. They’re not faking that they’re already like Jesus. Number three, a sinner uses the Bible as a mirror, a hypocrite uses the Bible as binoculars. That’s what Jesus said. He said, you know, you’re talking about the speck of sawdust in their eye. You’ve got, you know, a two by four coming out of your head. And you’re like, hey, do you guys see the sawdust? And they’re like, actually, do you see the lumberyard? Like, hey, you deal with you. You got some issues with you. A hypocrite opens the Bible and says, here’s your problem. And here’s your problem. And here’s your problem. And here’s your problem. That’s why Jesus, when he calls people hypocrites, it’s almost always a self-righteous judgemental religious leader who is not examining their own behavior. So this is first of all, a word for somebody like me. Am I examining me? So for the Christian, we treat the Bible as a mirror. Hey, before I deal with you, I got a lot of my own issues to deal with. I got to see what my shortcomings, faults, flaws, and failures are. And number four, a sinner is in a change process. The hypocrite is not in the change process. Because a hypocrite is faking faith, they’re not growing in faith. A Christian is one who is not perfect, but is making progress. How many of you, that’s your story? Jesus is perfect, you’re not. You’re becoming like Jesus. And let me just say this, the longer you’re a Christian, and the closer you get to Jesus, the more messed up you realize you are, amen? How many of you are like, I thought I was a good person till hung out with Jesus. Oh gosh, there is a lot to do. Yeah, we had to murder God. That’s how big the overall project is. Right? And what happens is, people will hold up God’s standard of perfection, you’ve fallen short, you’re a hypocrite. No progress. Progress. And my point is always this, don’t just judge somebody by where they are. Consider where they started. I’ve got a friend of mine who’s battled alcoholism for years. They were sober for well over a year, they had a relapse one weekend. I could look at that in a moment and say, you’re a hypocrite. Or I could say, hey, you had over a year sobriety, that’s progress. Today, you took a step back. Let’s get up tomorrow and make another step forward. There has been progress. Now you’re not yet perfect, and none of us is, but there has been progress. So let’s celebrate the progress and encourage more progress. So here’s where I want to land the plane. Am I done with the sermon? Not even close. Not even close. But here’s the big idea, Jesus works, if you work with Jesus. Jesus works if you work with Jesus. There is a big difference between professing something and practicing it. Amen? It’s easy, you could say whatever you want. And a lot of the data, the fault, the flaw, the failure in the data is people ask, “Are you a Christian?” not, “Do you live as a Christian?” It’s easy to say something, it’s hard to do it. I can tell you right now, I’m a ballerina. Okay? Why are you laughing? Thou shall not judge. I’m a ballerina in my heart, okay? You don’t know my heart, you can’t judge me. Do I practice that? No. I have no flexibility. If I drop something, it better be expensive, otherwise I’m not picking it up. I’m not flexible. That’s a lot of effort. Have I ever done a plie? No, no. But I could tell you I’m a ballerina, I could tell you I’m a basketball player. I have a two inch vertical, I cannot shoot, and running up and down the court is something I won’t even pray about. It’s not something that I practice, but I could say whatever I want, amen? So part of the failure of the data is you go ask somebody, “Are you a Christian?” They say, “Yes.” And then you look at their behavior rather than starting with their behavior, and then seeing whether or not they really practice the faith that they profess. So on this issue of hypocrisy, there’s a sociologist named Bradley Wright, he wrote a book called “Christians Are Hate Filled Hypocrites and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.” Good title. He is a sociologist following the data regarding the report of hypocrisy. His summary statement is this, “Christians are exposed to many inaccurate statistics about our faith.” He gives some reasons I’ll summarize them. Faulty research methods. Negative and shocking news is preferable. Very rarely is the news reporting, today Bill and Sue prayed together for, you know, the 50th year of their life every consecutive day since they exchanged their vows. And they’d like to testify to the goodness of Jesus. That’s not a news story. Christians are about good news, much of the world is about bad news. In addition, as I said, there is a big difference between professing something and practicing something. If you want to get real data on real Christians you got to ask real questions. Here’s some of the myths that he corrects. How many of you have heard Christianity is dying? It’s not. He says that about 8% of people are practicing Christian faith. The numbers are now getting clearer and cleaner because previously there were cultural benefits to cultural Christianity and professing something you were not practicing. Now that it’s no longer popular to be on team Jesus, we’re just getting clearer data. Another myth that is stated is that young Christians are abandoning their faith. Teenagers are leaving the church, statistically. It’s not true. The ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, up to the present, the number is actually very stable and consistent. It’s also said that, you know, young Christians, teenagers, their behavior is no different than non-Christians. That’s not true. Statistically, those that read the Bible, pray, go to church, practice their faith, not just profess it, lower rates of drug use, premarital sex, and crime. You know why, Jesus works if you work with Jesus. One of the myths that he hits, and was in our study, Christians are uneducated. Actually the higher levels of education that a Christian has, the deeper the level of their devotion. You’ve heard this myth, Bible reading and prayer is down by Christians. Actually statistically, it’s up. Christians are praying more than they did 20, 30 years ago. And thanks in large part to certain technologies, they’re reading the Bible more than they did a generation ago. In addition, two thirds of Christians say they experience a deep sense of spiritual peace at least once a week, and they have either experienced a miracle like a divine healing or know someone who has. That God is the Lord. He says that a 1 in 33 women in the church claims to have had some sort of sexual advance from a religious leader. Which is too high, we wanted it at zero. But women in the workforce, it is 1 and 4, with the boss or someone in leadership in the company. In addition, I would say that he does say that there are some areas that are room for improvement like giving. The average Christian gives 2.5 to 3%. And there are some areas for improvement. But his general consensus just following the data is Jesus works if you work with Jesus. Now what I want to do now is I want to blow up what I think is one of the most powerful myths and lies. Something doesn’t need to be true, it needs to be believe to have an impact. That’s why Satan always lies. That’s why Jesus says in John 8, Satan is the father of lies. He’s bilingual, but lying is his native language. Jesus says you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. So Satan has told a lie. Many, if not, most people believe it. Jesus wants you to know the truth so you can live a life of freedom. Let me tell you what that lie is. Is that there is no discernible difference between the behavior of married Christians and married non-Christians. How many of you have heard that? Oh, Christians get divorced at the same rate. Christians commit adultery at the same rate. Christians hit their wives at the same rate. How many of you heard this? It’s not true. It’s not true, it’s a lie. The highest rate of divorce is among people who practice different religions. That makes sense, right? You don’t agree, you add kids, this is gonna be a conflict. The lowest rates of divorce are between Bible believing, Jesus loving, church attending, prayer saying, born again believers. Lowest rates of divorce. There is a man named Bradford Wilcox, he is a sociologist at the University of Virginia. He’s a Catholic, not a Protestant. He undertook what is considered by most to be the largest research study in the history of America, on marriage and family to see what the actual data says. And what he determined was that much of the data and analysis was faulty because you would ask people, “Do you say you’re a Christian?” versus “Do you live as a Christian?” The data was built on those who would profess something that they didn’t practice. So he added in both beliefs. Do you believe the Bible is God’s word? Do you believe Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection. Do you believe that you’re a sinner and you need a savior? Beliefs and behaviors. Do you go to church? Do you read your Bible? Do you pray? Once you put in beliefs and behaviors, the data was absolutely different. James 1:22, he says it this way, “Don’t merely listen to the word and so deceive yourself. Do what it says.” For those who believe and behave, here’s what he says, and I’ll summarize. Conservative Protestant men, any of those in the house today? Okay, here’s what I want to do. I want to build men up in a world that beats men down. See, because this powerful lie and myth is, why go to church? It doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t do anything. Why read the Bible? It has no impact or effect. Why pray with your wife? Why pray for your wife? It accomplishes nothing. If that’s what you believe, it, number one, discourages non-Christians from considering Christianity. And number two, it discourages Christians from practicing Christianity. Here’s what he says, his summary findings, conservative Protestant, married men with children are consistently more active and expressive with their children. What he’s saying is the best dads in America are Bible-believing, church attending, Jesus worshiping men. That’s the truth. Conservative Protestant family men are more likely to do positive emotional work in their marriages and are more consistently engaged emotionally in their marriages. He says, we looked at it, the best husbands are the Christian guys. More date nights, more love affection. One woman says, “Yay.” You know, how come we don’t hear this? How come, you know, at nightly news, it’s like, hey, divorce is up and families are shattered. Everybody should go to church ’cause statistics prove it works. Let me say this, I’m seeing this. Our largest ministry is men’s. I see this room filled with men on Wednesday night and they’re asking questions like, how do I read the Bible? How do I pray? How do I love my wife? How do I build up my kids? The want-to is there, ’cause they have the Holy Spirit. The how-to is what they’re asking. I saw this week, I saw a room filled with men laying hands and praying over each other so that they could go home and demonstrate the love of Jesus to their wife and children. I’m telling you, this is what’s in the hearts of God’s men. And the biggest problem in our culture is men aren’t loving, men aren’t leading, men are not treating women and children with dignity, value, worth and respect. And once you meet Jesus and you read the Bible and he changes your heart, you’re like, I got to do some things differently. Church attendance almost uniformly promotes higher levels of paternal involvement and expressiveness among conservative Protestant men. He goes on to say, who helps their kids with their homework the most? The Christian guys. Who coaches the sports and Little League the most? The Christian guys. Who hugs and kisses their kids the most? The Christian guys. Who hits their kids and yells at their kids the least? The Christian guys. Do you know what the lowest rate of domestic violence is? The Christian guys. Goes on to say wives are more likely to report happiness and love and affection that they receive from their husbands. So I know a lot of wives are like, hey let’s go to church, honey. Amen? You’re like, come under authority, meet some other guys. Get some positive examples. Let’s do it Jesus’ way. Religious attendance is associated with more empathetic behavior on the part of married men with children. Active conservative Protestant husbands are the least likely to commit domestic violence. All of this came out in a book that he published called “Soft Patriarchs, New Men.” It’s all of his findings. Family men who were integrated into the life of a church, religious institution, especially conservative Protestant men, spend more time socializing with their wives. And just so you know, like I said, that’s not his team. He’s Catholic, he’s not Protestant. But the data says that Protestant, Bible believing, Jesus loving, church attending men, they’re doing differently. Men who are regular churchgoers he says are more likely to spend time in youth related activities. They hug and praise their children more often. And they yell at their children less than other fathers. Oh, I thought we were all hypocrites. No, we’re sinners that are in progress. We know that Jesus is perfect. We know that we’re not perfect. But we’re hanging out with Jesus because we want to become more like him. That’s not a hypocrite, that’s a sinner in a process. Now there are some hypocrites in Christianity. But I am telling you that there are hypocrites in non-Christianity as well. Hypocrisy is not a Christian problem, it’s a human problem. So here’s where I want to land the plane. Christianity rises or falls with Christ. Christianity is not about Christians. Christianity is about Christ. Here’s my question, was Christ, is Christ a hypocrite? That’s the issue. That’s the issue. If we’re gonna talk about hypocrisy, we talk about them and them and them and you and me and us. Let’s talk about him. I’m gonna share with you four things quickly that Jesus said. You need to make a decision. He’s either a hypocrite or he’s God, that’s it. Number one, Jesus says this, it’s a controversial statement, “I have come down from heaven.” I’m God come to the Earth. No other religious leader has any statement like this. “They who heard it began to grumble about it because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’ They said, ‘Is this not Jesus, son of Joseph?'” Mom and dad, we know. How can he say came from heaven? Our kid played little league with him. I saw him hit a curveball, ride a bike. He came from Nazareth, he didn’t come from heaven. Well, Nazareth was his passthrough. Came from heaven to the Earth. If Jesus is pretending to be God visiting the Earth and he’s not, you know what he is? The worst hypocrite in the history of the Earth. If I showed up right now and said, “Hi, I’m from heaven. I am the son of God. I’m here to reveal the kingdom of God.” That’s either true or false. That’s either who I really am, or I am really counterfeiting, faking, I’m a total hypocrite. Number two, Jesus said he’s God. This is a massive statement. No other world religion has its founder making this claim, only Jesus. “Jesus answered, ‘I and the Father are one.’ Again they picked up stones to stone him.” That’s the penalty for saying you’re God. They’re saying, he’s a hypocrite. You say you’re God, you’re not God. We need to kill you. “They picked up stones to stone him but Jesus said to them, ‘I’ve shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?'” What he’s asking is, what have I done wrong? And they said you haven’t done anything wrong, it’s what you said. “We’re not stoning you for any of these but for blasphemy because you, a mere man,” what? Claim to be God. Just deal with this fact, my friend. Jesus stood on the Earth said, “I came from heaven, I’m God.” If that’s true, worship him. If that’s false, he’s the most damnable hypocrite in the history of the universe. Number three, Jesus said he was sinless. We dealt with that everybody is a sinner and some people are hypocrites. Jesus is saying not only is he not a hypocrite, he’s also not a sinner. Nobody says this. Even non-Christian say nobody is perfect. John 8:46, Jesus is in public before critics and enemies. “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” What he’s saying is, I am sinless. I am perfect. I have nothing to apologize for and nothing that I would do differently. How many of you would not say that publicly? So Pastor Mark, would you? Oh for sure no. This is unbelievable. We tend think that the holiest people are those who are most aware of how unholy they are. Well Jesus here is not lying, he’s telling the truth. And that’s what he says, “If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe?” That’s my question to you. If Jesus is telling the truth, my friend, why don’t you believe him? You can say, well ’cause I think some Christians are hypocrites. It’s not about Christians, it’s about Christ. Is he a hypocrite? See, this is the decision you need to make. Number four, last one. Jesus said he was the only way to heaven. We’ll hit this again on Easter, it’ll be awesome. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way,'” singular and exclusive, “the truth,” singular and exclusive, “the life,” singular and exclusive. I hear it all the time, people are like, I wish there was another way. I’ll just tell you this. If I went to my doctor and my doctor said, “You got cancer, you’re gonna die. It’s gonna be painful, it’s gonna be horrible.” I’d say, “Doc, what are my options?” Doc said, “We only have one, but it’s a hundred percent, works every time.” You know I wouldn’t say, “I’m disappointed there’s not another way.” I’d say, “Give me that way,” amen? Look, you’re going to hell, my friend. There’s one way, you’re gonna face the wrath of God. There is one way, you have a serious problem with God because God has a serious problem with you. There is one way, his name is Jesus. There is one truth, his name is Jesus. There is one life, his name is Jesus. Amen?
– That’s who we’re talking about. Who comes to the Father apart from Jesus? No one. Let me say this, Jesus is either telling the truth or he’s the worst hypocrite in the history of the world. So here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna celebrate him, amen? Because we worship Jesus Christ who is not a hypocrite. I’m gonna invite the band forward, we’re gonna have a little Jesus party, amen? The world is filled with bad news. We’re here to celebrate some good news. We’re gonna collect our tithes and offerings. We’re gonna partake of communion, remembering the broken body and shed blood of Jesus. As we take our offering, as we prepare our hearts, if you’ve never given your sin and given yourself to Jesus as your savior, this is the day, this is the time. This is the moment that you make the most important decision you will ever make. And that is, do I believe in Jesus or do I not believe in Jesus? Do I belong to Jesus or do I not belong to Jesus? And I have good news, I have such good news. Jesus is not a hypocrite. He said he’s God, guess who he is? Jesus Christ is God. Jesus said he came down from heaven, he’s no hypocrite. You know where Jesus came down from? Heaven! You know where he’s at right now? He’s returned to heaven. He’s ruling and reigning. He’s over nations and kingdoms. He’s being adored by angels right now. Jesus is alive and well right now. Jesus wants to forgive you right now. Jesus wants to love you right now. Jesus wants to help you. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done, he can forgive it. It doesn’t matter how far you’ve strayed, he’ll take you back. It doesn’t matter who you are, it matters who he is, amen? And so we’re here to worship this awesome Jesus who gives good news, who changes lives, who forgive sins, who fixes families, who repairs relationships, and who alters destinies, amen? And in a world filled with bad news, we have good news! Jesus Christ is no hypocrite. Jesus, we come to worship you. We come to love you. We come to enjoy you. Make us like you until we see you face-to-face. Amen.