Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
The English word, “hypocrite”, really means nothing. It is only a transliteration, a mere repeating of the sound of the original Greek word, hupokriteis; therefore, our English word “hypocrite” actually reveals nothing to us about what the original word meant to the Greeks, or to Jesus, when it was used.
The Greek word, hupokriteis (“hypocrite”) was a term used in the ancient Greek theater that meant “actor”. A hypocrite was someone who played a role in a stage production to be watched by an audience, someone who was not really what they seemed to be but was trained to act out a part on stage. A hypocrite, then, was simply a man or woman trained to act out a role in the presence of others.
Most people today define a “hypocrite” as someone who says one thing but does another, and that certainly is an element of hypocrisy, but it is only a part of what the word actually means.
In Earthly Society
All of us have learned to play a role in human society. And thank God for that! Life on this sinful planet is made tolerable, and in many cases pleasant, because men and women are trained to play their roles and function together for the benefit of all. But the training is not the man or the woman. The role played is not the person. The person is nothing but what God created. Everything else is a temporary physical condition and will pass away at death.
We are in a habit of saying this or that person is a dentist, or a farmer, or a nurse, or a fireman, or an astronaut, etc. But that is not true. The role played is not the person; it is merely the part that he plays in this life. The person is not the role! The role is the hypocrisy, the acting part of your life, the part in life that you have been trained to perform, and as I said, that playing of a role, that hypocrisy, can be beneficial when it is restricted to the natural things in this world. We need people trained in medicine, in cooking, in construction, etc., who are able to play the necessary roles of society in this world.
In the Kingdom of God
So, the ordinary state of man in society is hypocrisy. It is the norm in this life to be trained to play a role. Beginning when we were very young, we were all even trained in how to behave as children in our particular cultures. But when playing a role is taken into the kingdom of God, it becomes a vile thing. It is out of place. God is real. God really is God. God is not playing the role of God in your life; He is the God of your life. Jesus is not playing the role of Savior; he is the Savior. Jesus does not save doctors and lawyers and construction workers and nurses, etc. He saves people. He saves the real being, not the role they play. That is why Paul taught us that in Christ, there is no male or female, slave or free, Jew or Gentile. All such things are temporary earthly conditions that will end at the grave. The real person will continue to live . . . somewhere.
God accepts no worship from roles. There has never been an acceptable sacrifice offered to God by a person playing a role. For example, no worship offered to God by an accountant is acceptable to God; but worship offered to God from the heart of an humble person whose role in this life is accounting is acceptable. A construction worker cannot offer acceptable praise to God if his praise is offered to God as being from a construction worker. What is so holy about construction work that it would make one’s worship acceptable to God? Do not approach God while still playing a role! If you do, you are offering worship to God as a hypocrite, and nothing you offer Him as a hypocrite will be acceptable to Him.
Every role played in this world will pass away when heaven and earth are destroyed. There has never been, nor will there ever be, any role playing in the eternal kingdom of God. Every creature in heaven is real; they are all created to be exactly what they appear to be. Satan introduced hypocrisy in heaven, and he and those like him were cast out. And any of us who become like him will never be allowed in. Those strange living beings John saw near God’s throne were not trained to praise God day and night; they were created to praise God day and night. They are merely being; they are only living as they were created to live. And that is all that God wants from His children.
In order to please our heavenly Father, all we need to do is be the kind of people that He created us to be. There is no acting school on earth that can train you to do that; it is only done by the Spirit. Follow the Spirit, Jesus said, and you will “have the light of life.” Act out a role you have learned to play, and you are in darkness, so far as the kingdom of God is concerned.
There are schools that claim to train men and women for the ministry, but no school can make you a minister of Christ. “If any man minister,” wrote Peter, “let him do it as of the ability that God gives.” There are, of course, schools that train Christians, or Muslims, or Hindus to perform the role of a minister in those religions. But what has that to do with God? The Lord angrily asked me once, “What difference does it make what men say about anything? If men call a man a prophet, does that make him a prophet? If men call a man a pastor, does that make him a pastor?” And then He sternly demanded of me, “Am I confused by your delusions!”
One of the most prominent roles in Western society is that of a Christian minister. Many have been trained to play that role because it is an earthly role, and men can be trained to play it. But Christian ministerial training has absolutely nothing to do with Jesus, and no worship offered to God by one playing the role of a Christian minister is acceptable to God. God accepts no worship from one playing a role; that is, from hypocrites. Acceptable worship is only from the heart, in the Spirit. In the kingdom of God, it is God alone who creates ministers by His power. No one can be anything in God’s kingdom without being created by God to be that thing. And worship outside what God has created you to be is sin.
This functioning in the body of Christ is not role-playing; it is living in the Spirit. And to function as we are created to function in the body far excels all the seminary training that any man can receive. Once, Peter ended a long and heated debate among the respected, educated elders in Jerusalem by standing up and pointing out that God had “made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel.” Peter didn’t quote a single verse from the Bible; he merely said, “You men know what God made me in the body”, and that indisputable truth helped settled the hotly contested issue. God’s will is all that matters in God’s kingdom.
I learned when my pastor was dying that being a pastor was not merely what he did for a living; it was what he was. God anointed him to be what he was in the kingdom of God. He did attend a Christian seminary as a young man, but no seminary can train a man to be a shepherd in God’s kingdom. That particular seminary would have had him deny the holy Ghost baptism and the power that he later received from God! What kind of training is that for a man who seeks to be a guide of men’s souls?
My pastor could no more stop being a pastor, regardless of his physical condition, than he could stop breathing. And he ceased being a pastor only when his breathing stopped. Indeed, sometimes, I wonder if he even ceased then, for, although I know better than to think that he any longer is involved with this life, Jesus has used dreams of him to warn me, reprove me, and teach me many times since that man died. Our connection, as pastor and member of his flock, was one created by God, and such a bond is not easily broken, nor does it quickly fade away. Roles can change, but God’s calling is real and eternal.
When we approach God, let us approach Him as we really are: as souls who were dead in sins but were saved from that living death by the love and mercy of God. Let us approach Him with joy for the precious hope He has promised us. Let us approach Him with thanksgiving for re-creating us so that we could “live in holiness without fear before Him all our lives.” Let us approach Him in humility, lest any of us be deceived and come short of that hope and be cast out of the kingdom, being “given our portion with the hypocrites”.