Key Verse: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst.” 1 Timothy 1:15
We grow tired of people saying one thing and living something that’s completely opposite. According to the dictionary, a hypocrite is “a person who pretends to have beliefs or practices which he or she does not actually possess.” As used in the Bible, the term comes from ancient Greek theater, where one actor would often play two parts. When saying something humorous, he would hold up a mask with a smiley face; when playing a tragic part, he would hold up a mask with a sad face. A good actor could imitate the speech, mannerisms, and conduct of the character he was portraying. The word literally means, “One who hides behind a mask.”
There’s a difference between being a sinner and being a hypocrite. There’s an unspoken assumption that a Christian is someone who doesn’t sin. Furthermore, this belief can be a massive burden for newly saved believers who are still struggling with sinful habits and cause them to doubt their salvation. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just the opposite. 1 John 1:8 puts it very clearly: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
Other times, we try to convince others and ourselves that we have it all together, maybe because of shame, or maybe because of pride. Either way, truthful we and everyone else knows that we are not that perfect after all.
A hypocrite, or one who wears a mask, claims to be free from faults. A Christian, on the other hand, freely admits the fact that he or she is a sinner. The next verse, 1 John 1:9 describes the difference between a hypocrite and an honest sinner: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Admitting our sin, we turn to God for forgiveness.
It’s not about being good. It’s about being forgiven. The Apostle Paul knew who he was, in 1 Timothy 1:15 he wrote, “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst.”