Jesus constantly warned about hypocrisy throughout his earthly ministry. Whether it was the institutionalized hypocrisy of the Pharisees (Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; 15:7; 16:3; 22:18; 23:13-15, 23-29), or the leavening effects that such hypocrisy on professing believers (Luke 12:1), Jesus recurrently emphasized that we are ever in danger of falling into hypocrisy. Since such hypocrisy was most prevalent among the religious leaders in Israel in Jesus’ day, pastors and others engaged in public ministry are far from immune from such hypocrisy in our own day.
When the Apostle Paul wrote his epistles, he often dealt with the issue of sincerity and hypocrisy in ministry. The same Apostle who said, “what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do…For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Rom. 7:15-20) also said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). Paul, at one and the same time, acknowledged the principle of indwelling sin in his own Christian experience and a deep determination to avoid falling into the trap of hypocrisy. There was a devout resolution in the heart of the Apostle to put hypocrisy to death daily – even as he recognized the irreconcilable warfare between the flesh and the Spirit that raged in his heart.
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