The Greek word apologia means "to give a reasoned defense for what you believe to be true." It is used 19 times in the new Testament. 1 Peter 3:15 (Amplified) is one such instance.

"But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense (apologia) to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully"

We, as followers of Christ, are mandated to defend our faith in every area. This section is dedicated to answering the questions of many as to the authenticity of our faith as Christians. Though it will not give detailed answers, it will attempt to convey some core truths about Christianity.

Debie Misir: March 11, 2009

The Hypocrisy of Christians

A hypocrite in Christianity is essentially a non-believer pretending to be a believer. They imitate the beliefs, principles, actions, morals, and life of a Christian but their hearts are unbelieving.

When a non-believer levels this accusation at a Christian, what is often written between the lines is the fact that Christians are expected to live an exemplary life; a life without fault or blame; a perfect life. If a Christian tries to witness to a non-believer, and does not live such life, the non-believer uses this as an excuse to remain a non-believer.

What must be said of Christians is that we are not perfect, but only forgiven. The penalty for our sins has been paid by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, but it does not mean all sin has been removed instantly from our lives. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8,9) The Bible tells us that sanctification is a process and over time, as we continue to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we will overcome the power of sin in our lives until we are finally totally delivered. In the meantime, many of us sincerely seek to follow Christ and live the true Christian life. We have taken account of our own sinful flesh and have put no confidence in self, but rely totally on the Holy Spirit to convict and transform our hearts and change our lives forever, one day at a time. A Christian is not a perfect person, but one who has recognized their sinful state and nature, and came to the Lord for forgiveness and to have a personal relationship with God. They are a people who have acknowledged their helpless condition, bound by sin, and are asking the Lord to set them free, take control of their lives, and help them to overcome their sin nature. One who makes mistakes and does not live the perfect life, but believes upon the Lord to bring him/her to that place of perfection, should not be considered a hypocrite and should not dissuade anyone from becoming a Christian.

On the other hand, there are many who profess to be Christians, but are really hypocrites. The Bible tells us that they were always there and will always be there amongst us until the end. The Lord Himself severely castigated the Pharisees during His time on earth for their hypocrisy. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell (Matthew 23:27,33). These were great teachers of the Law who knew the word of God and taught and enforced it with severe standards and disciplines, but without love or mercy. They mandated everyone adhere strictly to the Law, but they themselves did not practice what they preached. Everything they did was a performance done for the approval of men, and for personal gain. They had no true love in their hearts for God or His people.

The Lord also spoke about the tares (hypocrites) and the wheat growing together in the church. “But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.”(Matthew 13:25). The tares are those who are not true believers but they infiltrate the church pretending to be believers. They come with a hidden agenda to bring division, strife, and destruction to the church. Jesus also speaks of the ones who will be operating mightily in the gifts of the Spirit, prophesying, healing, serving Him in the church with all zeal and diligence…but who are really hypocrites and will be exposed in due time. They will come to the Lord in the end, and He says, “Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” He warns us of false teachers and prophets “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”(Matthew 7:15). Jesus plainly told us that hypocrites will exist among us in the church at every level; Preachers, Teachers, Prophets, church members etc. These are not true believers and they will go to hell.

The Lord also taught us how hypocrites behaved and warned us against such behavior. Some of these include: praying long prayers in public to be recognized as righteous men and women, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.” (Matthew 6:5), giving so that others can see your giving and praise you, “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men.”(Matthew 6,2), honoring God with lip service but hearts that are far from him "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.(Isaiah 29:13), criticizing others when your actions or characters are worse, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” (Luke 6:42), fasting and ensuring others notice "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting (Matthew 6:16), and tithing but neglecting justice and mercy. In short, putting on a show and parading a relationship with the Lord which they did not possess, purely for the approval and applause of men.

We know that there are many who profess to be Christians but are really hypocrites. We have been warned to discern, and we have been told to be on guard lest we fall into the same behaviors as the hypocrites. This is not to say Christians will not make mistakes, but true Christians will not have a lifestyle that is hypocritical nor indulge in the practice of any sin. The Bible tells us how we can know true believers in Christ. Those who truly belong to the Lord Jesus Christ will possess the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control), and they will bear fruit (lead others to Christ). This is how we discern the true Christians from the hypocrites.

The only perfect Christian I know is Jesus Christ Himself. He practiced what He preached and demonstrated for all of eternity His love for sinners like me and you. We do not need to look at anyone else to receive His gift of love; Salvation and eternal life. We do not need to look at the hypocrites or the true Christians who live defeated lives because of their little faith. We can look at Him. We can dissect His love, His principles, His morals, His life, His death, and His resurrection. We can trust Him, come to Him and be saved, depend on Him to change our lives and transform our hearts, and receive from Him all we need to be victorious in this life and inherit eternal life with Him in Heaven. He will never disappoint us. He is our role model. He is our Savior and Redeemer.

Many have blamed Christianity for great acts of destruction and wickedness because of the hypocrites who have performed these acts, in the name of Christianity. Many others have said that Christianity has destroyed people. But it is the other way around, Christianity has not destroyed people; people have destroyed Christianity, or tried to. These are those who profess to be Christians, but never knew the Lord or understood His teachings. From the teachings and the life of Jesus Christ as recorded in the Bible, we know with all certainity that Jesus Christ would never advocate any of the acts that the hypocrites have done in His name; like the crusades in the 16th century or the immoral and financial scandalous behaviors that are being exposed in the church today. His teachings, which He taught by example while He was on earth, are very clear. “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 28:30). “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. 'But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:39-45); and these are only a few. The fact that Christians have failed to live the teachings of Jesus Christ, does not make Christianity false. Christ lived these teachings and when we receive Him as Lord and Savior, He gives us the Holy Spirit to help us live them as well. Those who truly endeavor to be led by the Spirit and to obey His commands are true Christians, even though they are not perfect, and all who are Christians or desire to become a believer, must look onto Jesus Christ only as their only model and goal, Lord and God.