We all do it. Many of us want to try to make our lives look better, more exciting than it is in reality. We post our vacation pictures on social media, but not any of our messy houses. When someone asks us how we are doing, we give the standard answer of fine. We don’t want to share about the recent diagnosis or the family issues we are experiences. Many of us want to show the world only the good side of our lives. So are we a sinner or a hypocrite by hiding our lousy side?
Jesus shares a story in Luke that reflects this notion of being either a sinner or a hypocrite. In the parable of the Prodigal son, we can quickly identify the sinner as the younger brother. His greed leads him to squander all his inheritance on wild living. But, can we spot the hypocrite in the older brother? He pretends to be perfect as he laments to the father that he is the good brother. He followed the rules and stayed home to help. The father, who represents our Heavenly Father, knows that all are sinners. Both sons need His love and forgiveness.
We tend to act the same when it comes to our sinful nature. Many of us attend church, maybe even multiple times in a week. We sing the hymns and repeat the prayers. And, if you are like me, you might share Bible verses and other Christian posts on social media. But, we hide our sins away. Does this behavior keep others from seeking Jesus in His church?
Are we hiding behind a mask of perfection so that no one sees our sinful nature? When we do, does it make us look like hypocrites? Click To Tweet
Surveys show that non-Christians or marginal Christians say that some of them don’t attend church because they appear to be filled with hypocrites. Are we giving that impression because we try to hide our sinfulness? None of us want to put our faults on display for the world to see, but what would happen if we were a little more open about our struggles?
The apostle Paul acknowledged his struggles with sin in his letter to the Romans. Although he does not mention any specific sin, he does admit to his continuous strife. We find his confession in Romans 7:
“14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do. But what I hate, I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I admit that the law is good. 17 In that case, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh; for I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I keep on doing the evil I do not want to do. 20 And if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”Romans 7:14-20 (NIV)
I noticed some memes on social media comparing a church to a hospital for sinners, and this is an excellent start at explaining our true nature. Churches are full of sinners that need Christ’s saving blood. But, do we still appear holier than thou to the newcomer that walks through our doors? Do we acknowledge our sinful nature from the pulpit or discuss our struggles in the Sunday Classrooms? Do we trust our Christian community enough to share our burdens?
My Sinful Nature
We can discuss this topic about our sins for hours, but without action, it does not accomplish anything. So, let me set the example by sharing mine. I grapple with anger, especially when I am tired. This sin can cause me to yell at those around me when I don’t get things my way. Something else I struggle with is jealousy. I question why someone was able to accomplish something that I wanted to do, but I failed. I can be judgmental with family and friends when they do not act or respond the way I think they should. And as a writer, blogger, and human, I fight my feelings of inadequacies. This is not a complete list but my most common trials.
Verses on Confession
I believe, as Christians, we must become more transparent with sharing our sinful natures. The Bible reminds us to be open about our sins with others in the following verses (ESV):
- James 5:16; “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
- 1 John 1:9; “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
- Hebrews 3:13; “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
- Galatians 6:2; “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
- Proverbs 28:13; “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.”
- Psalm 32:5; “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah”
Sharing our Faith Through Transparency
The only perfect human was Jesus. Jesus knows us inside and out, so He is very aware of our sins. He has forgiven us for them, but that does not mean we should pretend we are perfect. When we share our failings, we shed the light of God’s grace and forgiveness for others to see. I pray for that light to attract others to seek forgiveness. Openness and honesty will fill church pews faster than the pretense of perfection. Here’s a secret, we all sin, so pretending you do not sin is a sin too. So are we a sinner or a hypocrite?
What would happen in our churches if we were a little more open about our struggles? When we share our failings, we shed the light of God's grace and forgiveness for others to see. Click To Tweet
Finally, here is a list of Bible verses to remind us of our sinful nature:
- Romans 3:23 (NIV); “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
- James 4:17 (NIV); “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
- Proverbs 28:13 (NIV); “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”
- 1 John 1:7-9 (NIV); “7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Yvonne M Morgan, #Blogger, #Speaker, #Writer
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
100% of the proceeds from sales of my book, Turning Mountains Into Molehills, go to help the orphans at Orphan Relief Effort, Inc
30 thoughts on “A Sinner or a Hypocrite”
Sharing struggles with each other can teach us valuable lessons. 🙂
Yes it can teach us so much. God already knows them so no need to hide them. Thanks Melissa and God bless
This certainly is convicting! I love that you said we can talk about our sin for hours, but until we do something about it, our talk is just that: talk. Thanks for providing encouragement to confess our sins and set good examples to those looking to see what church is all about!
Thanks Emily. We started this kind of discussion in my Sunday School class and it really convicted me. I am going to try to stay aware of how I present myself. As bloggers, I feel responsible to make sure others understand I write these words to help me too. I need to admit I am a sinner and praise God for His grace and forgiveness.
Amen. After years in recovery, I have seemingly “lost my filter” when sharing about my personal darkness. However, I have learned about my tendency to share skeletons in my closet that are already dead but not monsters in my closet. I long to be seen as strong, as an overcomer, but acknowledge that I am weak and there are things in my life that threaten to overcome me. Such a wise, excellent post. Thank you, Yvonne!
Thank you Candice. I think when we share our “personal darkness” we shed the light of Christ on it and light always attracts others. God bless.
I appreciate that you suggested “doing something about it.” I fear that in Christianity today, when we are willing to acknowledge our sin – it is only in confession. We do not repent – turn from it and not go back. I always get a little concerned about the person who will openly reveal sin on Facebook because there is no accountability there. It seems to me that it needs to be up close and personal so a brother or sister in the Lord could come alongside to encourage and build up the confessor.
Good point. We must find a balance between the two extremes. We need to stop pretending we are perfect because I believe it drives people away from the church. I do think our confessions need to be done in community so there is accountability. I think most of us don’t do it there either. I shared mine to at least get the conversation started. Thanks and God bless Beth.
This is so good.
I’m in a mentoring relationship in which we get real, vulnerable, and authentic. The accountability is refreshing…and can be uncomfortable at times. So sad that our culture has caused us to be uncomfortable with authenticity and vulnerability!
Good for you Ava. That is a great way to be open about who we really are behind the mask. Opening our souls up to others can be very refreshing in the right circumstances. I think that is why God wants us to share, so our burden is lighter. God bless
I love this discussion. The most thriving churches I’ve seen are places of transparency–where people share their weaknesses and burdens. May we all be so.
Amen Nancy. May we be transparent always. God bless
Thank you for this post, Yvonne. Confession and honesty about our sins and struggles is biblical and we’ve strayed away in the church from this foundational truth in our faith. I’ve always loved how honest the Apostle Paul is in that portion of Romans 7. Instead of saying we are sinners saved by grace (true), my husband likes to say, “We are saints with the capacity for any sin.” When we are honest AND own our sins and mistakes, it lets others know we aren’t perfect, only Jesus was and it points the glory to Him. By the way, my blog post today is about the blood of Jesus to save us and pay for our sins.
I love your husband’s saying. I will have to remember it. I can’t wait to read your blog now because when we confess our sins, Jesus will forgive them. Thanks Karen and God bless.
I’ve always attended churches that seem to draw those who consider it a “hospital for lost souls.” Typically non-denominational churches. Lots of confessions, tears, repentance. It is the best way to “do church”, in my opinion. No one’s perfect. We’re all in the sanctification process, and that’s what should be preached more often. We’re just regular folks trying to let God mold our souls along this faith journey. Amen? Yeah. I struggle with many of the same things you do. Thank goodness for God’s Grace!
Amen. Amen and amen. We are blessed because of God’s grace. Thanks Lisa and God bless.
I love this so much. At my church we try to make sure never to say “I’m good!” When someone asks us how we are unless we are really good. It goes a long way!
Makes sense to me. Sometimes when I say I am good to that question, I feel guilty because I know my history. Even Jesus ask why do you call my good. He said only His Father in heaven is good. Thanks Jessie and God bless.
Amen. May I always remember that we have all sinned and fall short of God‘s glory. I am not the only sinner, and I thank God for the blessing of repentance and new life.
We need to always be thankful for new life and grace when we mess up. Thanks and God bless.
Love this post, Yvonne. It is challenging to define what it means to be real and transparent about ongoing struggles in a safe and healthy way. But testimonies and transparency do draw people to Jesus – when they see how He can help.
Very true Pam. It needs to be done in a safe and healthy environment. Thanks and God bless.
Oh, truth. How sinful we are and how honest we should be about it. We don’t necessarily air our dirty laundry, but we certainly should not put on a holy face as if we don’t fail. John wrote a lot about hypocrisy, too (1 John). I often remind myself to be real, be honest, be transparent. One of my nagging issues is that I lack patience with people who are rude or just don’t care about people and life. It’s a daily struggle and I need God’s grace.
Thank you for sharing your struggles Stephen. You are right that it is not about airing our dirty laundry but about being transparent in all we do. It is easy to see why the world sees us as hypocrites sometimes. God bless.
Superb post, Yvonne! This is Christianity 101. This is essential in our churches. This is the absolutely necessity for spiritual growth in ourselves and encouragement and faith in the lives of our fellow Christians. This is evidence that we are truly saved. This needs to be said and modeled and encouraged everywhere in Christian circles.
Thanks Melinda. It is so important for churches to get back to some of the basics. God bless.
This was excellent! At the core of our faith. First acknowledging and confessing our sin and drawing near Christ for the forgiveness and strength only He can give. Then to share that openly, to give glory to the God who gave His life for us AND to help others who may be struggling. I appreciated all the Bible verses to help us anchor our thinking about this topic. Thank you for your honesty and teaching here.
Thanks Melissa. We must get back to the basic of Christianity. God bless.
Thank you for writing this. Our churches should be the first place we take our questions about sin and doubt but many times they are the last.
Amen. We have failed in the area for many people. I pray for more churches to be open and transparent. Thanks and God bless.