Have you heard someone say? “I don’t go to church, because they are hypocrites.”
Doesn’t the church preach good works and righteousness? Then how did Christians get this bad reputation? Well, because they can be hypocrites.
Let’s look at an example that happens in most churches and households. Young children see their parents act differently in the church and out of the church. The parents put on “church” faces and act as they care about doing God’s will. But when they go home, they are more interested in their own will. The teaching in the church does not influence their life. The children see this and wonder what is the point to go to church. So they stop going to church when they grow up.
Besides this example above, it is cliche to see sex scandals, financial frauds, divorce, gossip in the church. I will give no more examples because my purpose here is not to vent about the hypocrisy.
Let’s use a biblical term to summarize the examples above — sin. If it is a sin for people who are in the church to commit adultery, gossip, greediness, dishonesty, carelessness about God’s will… It is also a sin when someone who is not in the church to do it. So if someone doesn’t go to church because of the hypocrisy there, meanwhile he commits adultery, gossip, curse, carelessness, lies, what does it make that person? A hypocrite who does what he condemns.
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one…There is none that doeth good, no, not one.”—Romans 3:10-12
The Bible condemns all people, which includes churchgoers and non-churchgoers. The Bible said no one does good. Even if we could abstain from sin for a whole week, which nobody can, that is still not long enough to avoid being called a sinner. Paul sighed in Romans 7, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?”
If everyone in the church is a sinner, then how could the church preach righteousness and not be called hypocrites? Is the church trapped?
The solution is to stop preaching human righteousness, but preaching Christ’s righteousness.
When Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, he greeted and called them “saints”. (1 Cor 1:2) He also called them “the temple of the holy ghost”.(1 Cor 6:19) Later, Paul rebuked the Corinthians that “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you.”( 1 Cor 5:1) How could the Corinthians be called “saints” if there was fornication among them? How could a body that fornicates be “holy”?
Paul was not looking at the good works of the Corinthians when he called them holy, but the righteousness Christ imputed on them. This is the same way God judges us.
What’s the meaning of the word “impute”? It means to assign a value to someone so that he can possess it. For example, how could a young man without a job become a millionaire? Because his rich grandpa imputed the wealth to him. How could a Christian having no good works become a holy saint? Because Christ who is righteous imputed his righteousness to us.
“The blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” — Romans 4:6
Now here comes the question, how could we get this imputation of righteousness? We are justified by faith, which means to trust Christ died on the cross for our sins and he rose again to give us eternal life. This is the gospel of the church.
“To whom it shall be imputed, if we BELIEVE on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” —Romans 4:24-25
Oh, how I love these three words “if we believe”…I cheer for the righteousness comes through our faith, not our works. There’s no hypocrisy if the church preaches it’s not about what we do, but what Christ did on the cross.
And why should people go to the church filled with sinners? Because sinners need to learn how God can impute his righteousness to them.