Craig Groeschel - Hypocritical People
Hey welcome today to all of our Life.Churches and our family at Open Network Churches all over, Church Online we love you guys. You are a part of our family and we are honored to have you with us. If you're new with us, we're in a message series called Relational Vampires. What does a vampire do? A vampire sucks your blood and we're talking about as followers of Christ, how do we love the people that suck the life out of us? Today I want to talk about a particular type of person that we love, God loves, but they can be really difficult to deal with especially for those of us, who are followers of Christ.
I want to talk about how we love and treat people who are hypocrites. I want a show of hands in all of our different churches, I wonder how many of you know a hypocrite? Raise you hand, raise them up. Put 'em down. How many of you are sitting by the hypocrite? Do not raise your hand, do not raise your hand right now at all. Just pretend like you don't know what I'm talking about. The number one complaint from non-Christians about Christians, what do you think it is? They're all a bunch of hypocrites. This is a theme that we talked about a few months ago in the message series, What Would Jesus Undo? I don't want to repeat what we talked about there, but I do want to build a foundation and then we're gonna hit it from anther angle. Where does the word hypocrite come from? This is actually a word that was used even before the birth of Jesus in Greek theaters and what the word hypokrites means, it means a stage actor, or it means one who wears a mask. It's a person who on the outside, portrays one thing but inwardly they're not living the life that they're portraying outwardly.
Jesus had no tolerance for hypocrisy. In fact if you read in Matthew's gospel, Matthew 23, again and again he hammers on it, seven times, he says, woe to the hypocrites, woe to the hypocrites, woe to the hypocrites. And then he says this about their outward lifestyle. He says in verse 28, outwardly, you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness. How do you deal with the hypocrites in your life? You all have seen them, it may be your buddy at LifeGroup, who comes in, acts all normal, eats the chips and dips, prays at the end of the time, and everyone there knows he's cheating on his wife, and act like it's really no big deal at all. It could be the Christian kid at school. The kid comes to switch on Wednesday nights, lifts his hands up to praise Jesus, and then parties on the weekend and cheats on the test during the week. It could be your boss who proclaims Christ with his or her lips but then he treats his employees horribly and leads the business with no integrity at all, and everybody seems to know it.
What is your role in a situation like that? Do we have a role or should we just stand back and be prayerful? How do we respond? What do we do? How do we love those who proclaim one thing, but inwardly they're living something way way different? What I want to do is build a foundation and then we're gonna talk about how we love them. The first question I want to try to answer is this. Why are they acting like that? If they're portraying one thing and they're living something else, we want to try to discern why because why they are helps determine what we do. Let me say it again. Why they are acting that way helps determine what we do as followers of Christ. Why are they acting like this? It could be one of several reasons. Let me give them to you. Number one, maybe they don't really know God. Maybe instead of being a hypocrite, they've just never been spiritually born anew. In fact, first John 2:4 says this. Whoever says, I know God, but does not do what he commands is a liar. The truth is not in that person.
In other words, just because they go to church, just because they claim to be a Christian, just because they think that they are, doesn't mean that spiritually they've ever been made new, maybe they just really genuinely haven't been transformed by the grace of Jesus. In fact it was Jesus who said this. He said, not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter into my kingdom, only those who do the will of God. Just because they claim Christ, doesn't mean they've been transformed by him. This person is not a hypocrite, this person is someone who needs the grace of Jesus. The reason they behave that way determines how we respond. Maybe they simply don't know God. Second thing is maybe they don't know any better yet. Why are they behaving this way? Maybe if they're new in their faith, and they haven't been taught how they're supposed to live.
In fact, Paul was dealing with this problem at the church in Corinth amongst many other complicated problems but instead in first Corinthians 3:1, he said to a group, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit, but as people who are still worldly. You're not living by the Spirit, you're still worldly and he says your mere infants in Christ. In other words, yes you've been forgiven, you've been changed by Jesus but you really haven't grown and you haven't spiritually matured yet. You're kinda like a baby in Christ. This is a person that doesn't need correcting, this is a person that needs instructing. Why they act this way determines what we do. Maybe they just don't know know any better yet. For example, this was absolutely and completely me when I was a brand new follower of Christ.
I was midway through college, I became a Jesus follower, my life was transformed in one moment, in one prayer, and my best friend who was like crazy party guy, happened to be in California when I was in Oklahoma. I came to Christ the very same week he came to faith in Christ. He came back, we had been partying together the week before and so we had to tell each other like, I got something to tell you. We didn't even have the language for it. I think I'm religious now, he's like I think I am too. And so, we didn't even know what we were doing. Honest to goodness we said, let's go get drunk to celebrate. That's what we did. I mean we're now Christians so what are we gonna do? We're gonna celebrate and go get wasted. We would pray, and our prayers, honest to goodness were like okay Lord, God protect us as we're partying God, help us not get a DUI, we ask that Mitch's girlfriend's not pregnant God, help her not be pregnant. We didn't know. We were not hypocrites, we were babes in Christ, we didn't need correcting, we needed instructing. Understanding why someone's behaving the way they are, helps us determine what we actually do.
Why do they act this way? Maybe they've never been truly born into God's family. Maybe they just don't know any better yet, or the people were really gonna focus on in this message will be, maybe they do know better but they still disobey God. This is the hypocrite. Maybe they really do know better and yet they dishonor God with the way that they live. Peter addressed it this way in first Peter 2, he said, for you're free, you've been forgiven by Jesus, yet you're still God's slaves. You're still his servants, and then he said, so don't use your freedom as an excuse to do evil. Don't use the grace of God as some kind of covering for you to live any way that you want. And this is what will happen sometimes when people slip into a spirit of hypocrisy. They might start by saying, well, you know, nobody's business anyway, God's gonna forgive me as it is. God's grace covers it, and then over time they start to rationalize it or start to justify it. God's gonna forgive, it was not that big a deal, who are you to judge me anyway?
I was talking to a Christian guy who was defending his addiction to porn saying I'm not hurting anybody, it's nobody else's business, and if my wife was meeting my needs then I wouldn't have to do this anyway. What had happened? It started out with justification, rationalization, pure blown hypocrisy. God's gonna forgive me anyway, who's business is it? It might be the person who says, you know this, I just love nice things. They're not generous, there's no sense of responsibility of the way that God has blessed us to be a bless in others. I just love nice things. Totally blind, now there's nothing wrong with having nice things. But we need to be agents of blessings to other people, as God blesses us. It could be the person who says, I don't have a problem with whatever. Anger, criticism, and you're not perfect anyway, who are you to judge me? God's gonna forgive me as it is. And this is the person that did at one time know better, but is now justifying it and using God's grace as an excuse to sin.
Peter says don't do it. Don't use your freedom as an excuse to do what is wrong. What do we do in the category of these third types of people? Those who genuinely have been changed by Jesus, and yet continued to willfully disobey God. Is it none of our business? Judge not lest you be judged. Is it our business? Should we be non-confrontational and just pray like crazy? Should we be all up in their business, tell them what they should be doing and not, where do we fall in this whole scheme of things. It's very important that we get this right. Because if we get this wrong, not only can we push people further away from the things of God, but we can be a very bad witness to anybody else who's looking on and if we're not careful we can actually hurt not only them, not only those watching, but we can hurt ourselves.
That's why we have to be really prayerful and I wanna give you just a few thoughts about how we prayerfully confront three thoughts straight from scripture. The first thing is we're gonna pray, we're gonna pray, we're gonna pray, number one, we're gonna pray, God help me confront with a heart to restore, the heart matters, your approach matters. Help me confront with the heart to restore. Paul told the Galatians this in Galatians 6:1, he said brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. What does it mean to restore? It means to bring back or to make whole again, your heart is to restore, to bring back to God's original purpose and to do it gently, to do it humbly.
Another version translates that same verse this way. If another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly, I love this imagery, you should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. What's happened? They've wandered away and you're gonna help guide them back. Here's the metaphor. You are not the judge, you are the guide. You're not the judge to claim what's right and wrong, you are the guide helping gently lead them back to a better way, to the way of life, to the way of freedom, to the way of truth. In other words, your goal, your goal is not to be right, your goal is to help them be right with God. It's not a look at me, you're wrong, I'm not the judge, I'm the guide helping you come back to life as you might one day help me. We restore gently.
I'll explain this in a story I've told before, but it was really, it really was meaningful to me. In the early years of preaching I was often creative in my humor in ways that might have crossed a spiritual line, people said I was way too crude. You may say Pastor Craig, you're still kind of crude. You have no idea how far I've come, you should celebrate the progress in Jesus name right now. And I've come a long way. And what would happen is I was like 28, 29 years old, and all these people would kind of come down really hard and with like a critical, like I'm older, you're young and stupid and you need to repent and all this kind of stuff, and I couldn't hear it because it felt to me like their heart was they're right, I'm wrong, not a heart to restore.
One day this guy came in and he really had a heart to restore and he said, Pastor Craig, I just want you to know I honor God's work in your life, I know that you truly wanna please God, I know that if you're doing something that was dishonoring or hurtful you wouldn't wanna do it. I know a lot of people told you you're unnecessarily crude, I just want you to know I'm gonna stand with you, you're my pastor. But if a lot of people have told you something it might be wise just to ask God. And I believe if you ask God he will show you if there's something you need to know and if not, you'll just keep on what you're doing. Either way I stand with you, but you might just wanna ask God.
Well guess what, that got to me, that was a heart to restore. So I asked God, am I being too crude? And I didn't hear anything back, so the next Saturday I was about to preach, my daughter Katie was promoted from kid's church to big church for the first time and I was about to say a pretty funny thing that might've been close to the line or maybe about one or two or 12 steps over the line. And right as I was about to say I looked over the I wouldn't want her to not just hear that, but I wouldn't want her to say it, and God showed me. I had been too crude. I couldn't hear it from the people that had a heart that they were right and I was wrong, I heard it from a person who gently and humbly with a heart to restore presented it in a way that opened me up to hear from God.
Think about Jesus, how did he love people? With grace and truth. A woman's caught in adultery and everybody says to stone her. Imagine if all he says is great, don't worry about it, just don't get caught, that's not gonna work. What if instead he's just all truth. Yeah, all these guys that wanna stone you, they're right, you need to publicly repent of your sins you filthy woman right now. No, no, no, no, what did he do? He knelt down and wrote something in the sand, we don't know what it was, but some scholars think it might've been the sins of the guys there 'cause all the other people wanted to stone her one by one walked away, and he knelt down and in grace said, woman, where are the people that are accusing you? And she said, they're all gone. And in grace he said, neither do I condemn you. And then in truth he said now go your way and be free, don't do it anymore, there's a better way. Go your way and sin no more.
Grace and truth, that's the heart to restore. God helped me to confront with a heart to restore, this is so important we get this right. The second thing if you're taking notes is number one, help me confront with a heart to restore, number two, God help me to confront carefully. Help me to confront carefully. Read on in our key verse from Galatians six, let's look at the first part again and then read on. If someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. What do you wanna do? You wanna be very, very careful because the moment we put ourselves in the posture of the one who's correcting we're more vulnerable to pride and what do we know about pride? Pride always comes before a fall.
In fact, perhaps that's one of the reasons why the Apostle Paul said this in First Corinthians 10:12. He said so if you think you're standing firm, if you're really confident in yourself, be careful that you don't fall. When you confront do it carefully because the moment we think we're better we're open to the lies of the enemy, you would never do that, that's so ungodly, you're so much better than that, and that's when you're vulnerable to do the very same thing that you're calling someone else out on. In fact, we saw it happen, never been more clearer than Amy and I when we were dating and she was a leader in the youth ministry of her church, I was a leader at my church 'cause we hadn't yet married and joined churches together and there were two other youth leaders that were dating in her church that believed that God told them that we were being physically intimate with each other.
God told them that. I am here to tell you and declare before you, God, and anyone else that will listen. We were not being physically intimate with each other and the reason that I know is because every day I was aware that we were waiting until we got married and we moved the date up three different times. I promise you, promise you, swear the God hope to die, stick a needle in my eye, we were not. And God revealed to them that we were and they were really kind of harsh, really judgmental about it, and we just said, no, no, no, no, no, and literally about six or eight weeks later they had to step down because they were doing the very thing that they were accusing us of and it came back on 'em. What happened? Out of the spirit of pride, perhaps they became a little bit vulnerable, and that's where we have to be very, very careful when we confront someone.
So how do we do this, how do we confront carefully and with a heart to restore? Let me give you a really, really quick lesson, you can read about this in Matthew's gospel, Matthew 18, I'm gonna give you kind of a short summary, this is essentially what Jesus says. He says if your brother or sister sins against you, notice what he says is if it's someone else who is in Christ, in other words, we're not gonna confront non-Christians who aren't behaving like Christians because they're not Christians, therefore they shouldn't behave like Christians, and when they come into our churches and don't act and behave like us we're not going to judge them, we're gonna love them where they are, we're gonna give them a safe place to belong, even before they believe because our goal is not to change their behavior, but to introduce them to the one who will. If you wanna clap for that at any time, you can. That's not our role to be the Holy Spirit, but to let the Spirit draw them to Christ.
So it's another believer, if your brother or sister sins against you, you go to them directly. In the Greek what that means is you don't try to solve the problem on Twitter. It's what it means. It means you don't try to bang out the solution in the comments of Facebook, okay? You gotta hear me on this, this is one of the most embarrassing things when we're calling somebody out on Twitter, you know what that's like? That's like walking into the mall and just declaring to everybody, sister Jonie is in sin! Sister Jonie needs to repent right now, Jonie! I don't know if you hear me or not, but you need to repent right now, you need to come forth right now, everybody you've been doing the nino wood Jonie. That's exactly what it's like. It is the stupidest most embarrass, you go to the person, you go to the person. And then you tell them, this is how you hurt me, this is where, this is where you've gone astray, and if they listen Jesus says you've won 'em over, you've made progress, praise God that they've been brought back to the right path.
If they don't listen, what Jesus says, you bring in support, you bring in one or two other people to help them see that this really is an issue, and then you lovely help point them toward truth. If they still don't listen now, you've gone one on one, you've brought a couple of people that are lovingly praying and knowing, then you kind of elevate it to some form of leadership in the church. It might be that you go before the Life.Church, it might be that you take them to the person who is overseeing Life kids, it might be to the campus pastor or whatever, but you bring in a little more official leadership, and then Jesus essentially says, if you've done that one on one, and then a couple of people, and then you brought it before some level of leadership then if they still don't listen essentially he says, you redefine the relationship.
What he says is you treat them as tax collectors or pagans. That doesn't mean a whole lot to us, but in my life when there was a guy who continued to claim Christ, but continued to cheat on his wife, and we did one on one and then group and then brought it before the church, at some point we say you know what, I love you, but you can't come to LifeGroup and act like everything's okay. We're not going and playing ball together when you're acting like this, we're not gonna just go to lunch like everything is fine. At any moment that you wanna say, yes, this is wrong and do what's right, the door is wide open and you're welcome back, but because we've done this, this, this, and this, and this you cannot continue to behave that way and have intimate fellowship, there is a line that you cannot cross. That sounds harsh, that is not harsh. That is loving and that is how you confront with the heart to restore. It's not get out, not you're not good enough, it's not hey everybody, Jonie is, no, a step by step by step, it's carefully with a heart to bring restoration.
What do we do? We have to get this right. God help us confront with a heart to restore, God help us confront carefully, and number three prayer is this, God help me see when I'm the hypocrite. Didn't see that one coming, did ya? Thought you were getting off easy today, right? We're talking about them, right? God help me see when I'm the hypocrite. Jesus calls the hypocrites blind fools. That they're blind to it. In other words, hypocrisy is really difficult to see in the mirror. It's so easy to point it out in someone else, but it's so difficult to see in our own lives. In fact, years ago I spoke at a fundraiser for another church, they were trying to expand their building, and before the fundraiser event they had a pre-event at one of the leader's houses. And we went to the house and I'm telling you, it was a gorgeous house, tasteful, beautiful when you walked up, like this is, this is a gorgeous, it's an incredibly well done place.
We walked in and it was the most stunning entryway where a big kind of area, glass that went on three sides of this courtyard, the most gorgeous courtyard with this elaborate fountain and a pool, and the house kind of circles this courtyard, so from different sides you can look through the glass and see that's just beautiful place. And so we're sitting there having a wonderful time, very blessed family, and midway through the pastor's presentation the lady who had her back to the window overlooking the fountain said, I just wanna ask one thing before we get to this, I just wanna make absolutely certain that in this new church you're not gonna waste money on stuff like fountains and fancy stuff.
And when she said it, all of us there, we just kind of stopped and we held our breath and we waited for the punch line to come so we could all laugh, because obviously she was telling a joke. She wasn't joking. She went on about how we should never waste God's money on extravagant things, the church, the church should be a humble and simple place to worship God when right over her shoulders in her own courtyard was the most gorgeous fountain that you have ever seen in your entire life. And that's why Jesus says blind fools. That's why it's sometimes so difficult, you can clap for that blind fool, but the problem is you're a blind fool sometimes too, and so am I. It's that, it's that we don't see it.
It's the fact that I can preach on one thing and go home and do the very opposite and not even know that I'm doing it. Here's what I've learned. I've learned that in my own life wherever I'm most condemning of others that's often a reflection of where I'm most vulnerable. Let me say that again, wherever I'm most condemning and judgemental of other people that's where I'm most vulnerable. Well if I had money like them I wouldn't spend it like they're spending, they don't know. You know what, they may not have a problem with money, you may have a problem with money. Maybe your heart is wrong. Wherever we're most judgmental and critical about someone else it's often a reflection of where we are vulnerable.
Listen to me, just because a sheep wanders doesn't mean a sheep's a wolf. Just means it's a sheep that's wandered. Not a wolf. We're not the judge, we're the guide. Come here little sheep, let's come back to the good shepherd who takes us to the good pasture. So when our brother is committing adultery and continues to do it, we don't write him off as a wolf that we never wanna see again, we recognize it's a sheep that's being taken from the flock, and so we wanna do everything we can to help restore that little sheep to fellowship. And this is exactly the way James, the kid brother of Jesus said it, he said this in James five. He said if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring that person back, remember this; Whoever turns a sinner from the errors of their ways will save them from death and cover a multitude of sins.
And this is why we must get it right, we confront with the heart to restore because when satan tries to take one away from the flock you could be the on that lovingly helps guide them back to truth and save them from spiritual pain and let the grace of Jesus cover a multitude of sins. Because guess what, one day, one day blind fools we may be the one that takes a step off the path and I want one of you there to love me enough back into the way of life. And that's how you love people who show one thing but live something else, you lead them back to the way of life, the way of Jesus. All of our churches, let's pray.
Father we ask that you would help us get this right. We know that getting this wrong has caused so much pain God, may we get this right. Father I know that even right now there are those who in their LifeGroup with people they serve with, people they work with and their family there's these situations going on, God give us wisdom from heaven to honor you in the way we love people back into the fold.
All of our churches, if you have someone right now, if you know you will because you will and you say God, I wanna be a voice of restoration, Spirit lead me to do this right. Lift up your hands right now, all of our churches, I hope everyone who's a believer says yes.
God I pray especially for those who have this situation going on right now. A loved one, a brother, a sister, a friend, someone that's making wrong decisions. God give us the heart of the guide, not the attitude of a judge, Lord help us to love a sheep that's wandering and not to see them as a wolf that's out to harm. God I pray that in the same way that you lead and love us with grace and truth that you would empower us to love your people with grace and with truth, handling this with integrity being led by your spirit, God give us favor, give us wisdom, give us the words to say, and God if someone lovingly comes to help bring us back give us eyes to see our own sinfulness and a heart to repent God and live according to your truth.
As you keep praying today at all of our churches there's some of you you're gonna recognize right now that you're wandering away, you're on your own. Guess what, how's it working for ya? When you live your way the scripture says this, all of us are like sheep, we've gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way. Who is Jesus? One of the metaphors is Jesus is this, he is the good shepherd, he is the good shepherd who came to give life to his sheep. He is the shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. Greater love has no one, scripture says, that he would lay down his life for a friend. Jesus is the good shepherd, our spiritual enemy, his name is satan, he's called the thief that comes to steal, to kill, and destroy. What does he wanna do? He wants to isolate you, he wants to take you away from the things of God, from the people of God.
The amazing thing is Jesus said this, he said a good shepherd will leave the 90 and nine to go after the one, the one, the one. Guess what, you may be here today and you are the one out of the family of God and Jesus is coming for you as if you are the only one, Jesus would leave the flock to come out for the one. At all of our churches those who say, yes, I'm apart from God, yes I need his forgiveness. I don't know, I don't know how to be in his family. You can't work your way there, you can't earn his favor, it's only by the grace of God, not because of your goodness but because of his goodness. He is the lamb of God who was slain for the forgiveness of the sins and he is also the good shepherd who is coming after you. He will pick you up, he will carry you home because he loves you as you are.
All of our churches those who said I need his grace, I need his mercy, I turn from my sins, I turn toward him. When you call on him he'll hear your prayer, he'll forgive your sins, he'll make you brand new. All of our churches those who says yes, I need his grace, yes, I give my life to him, lift your hand high right now. All of our churches lift 'em and say yes Jesus, I surrender to you. Those of you at Church Online you click right below me and as we've got people at all of our different churches coming to faith in Christ would you join your hearts and pray with those around you and nobody prays alone.
Heavenly Father, I give you my life, trusting Jesus to save me, to be my Lord, and to forgive my sins. My life is not my own, fill me with your Spirit so I can live for you every day of my life. Lead me in your ways so I can show your love. Thank you for new life, now you have mine, in Jesus name I pray.