Christians Are Hypocrites

10 Reasons People Think Christians Are Hypocrites

I don’t know if you’ve ever come across the objection “I don’t like church – Christians are hypocrites”.

I often come across that statement when chatting with people.

Most of the time, I couldn’t agree with them more.

We might not intend to be hypocritical. However, so much of what we “believe” and the way we then act highlights we may not believe what we are saying after all.

We don’t “practice what we preach” as the old saying goes.

There are countless things that fall into this category but I thought I’d pick out 10 common ones to get you thinking.

Before I get started let me say – I think I’m probably guilty of being party to everyone of these contradictions on one level or another. To tell the truth, I probably still to this day have some of this stuff clinging to me!

For every 10 things I can think of that look hypocritical I’m sure I have 100. This post isn’t meant to be an attack on specific Christians but more a challenge to us all – are we as a Church practicing what we preach?

What We SayHow We Live
God loves unconditionallyOffer His love with a set of conditions
Jesus came not to judge but to save the worldTell everyone bad things are God’s judgement for them sinning
God is the creator of the world and loved the world He createdWe couldn’t care less what happens to the planet – “it’s just going to burn up anyway”
Love the sinner, hate the sinLove to tell the sinner God hates their sin
God so loved the world that He sent His only SonWe so hate the world that we judge and protest their actions
We will be known for our loveWe are mostly known for our unloving behavior towards people we don’t agree with
Love your neighbour as you love yourselfWe love our neighbours to the degree they believe like ourselves
God chooses to not remember your sinsSpend our whole time pointing out sins
All sin is equal we all need graceWe run around condemning people for certain sins (usually the ones we don’t struggle with), all the while allowing countless sins in our lives to go unchecked
We are a priesthood of believers, temples of the holy GodWe need a temple and a priest to hear from God

So there are my 10 – I’m sure there are hundreds. But hopefully these start a discussion.

Perhaps you’ve been guilty of some hypocritical actions yourself. Or maybe you are an outsider looking into the church and see the hypocrisy.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below – What do you think are some of the hypocritical things that turn people off Christianity?

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38 Comments

  1. This is a good list and I agree we all struggle with some if not all. Suddenly after being saved, we think we’re better than others. I believe the more revelation of the UNDESERVED favor of God will bring us back to the beauty of the gospel that He loved when we were bad.

    As Tim Keller would say – let’s preach grace until humility sets in our hearts (not the exact words i think).

    • Great point Jaymon.

      That’s so true – we can easily forget the grace we desperately need to live in, when we do it is all too easy to stop extending that grace to those who need it all the same!

  2. I agree with most of the hypocritical statements you have posted except for one. To tell someone that God hates their sin is important for the simple reason that He does! But the bad thing to do is to not point them to Jesus! It’s at this point we can share just how much Jesus loves them despite the fact that He hates the sin in our lives, He chose to bear their sins that He hates for them. That is showing God’s unmerited grace!

    • The issue isn’t in telling people that God hates their sin Gareth – it’s that very few people can do so and have the person still feel loved by God.

      We major in the wrong thing.

      If we only taught on God’s love for them the sin would take care of itself.

      If we err too much towards focusing on helping people know how much He hates their sin they will never believe the love of God.

      Very few people in my experience don’t know that God hates their sin. Very few people don’t know their sin is an issue. Very few people think they are without sin.

      Almost EVERYONE thinks that God couldn’t love them.

      That is the issue. And us running around screaming from the rooftops how bad their sin is doesn’t usually help.

      If we ran around screaming from the rooftops that God loves them unconditionally and laid off focusing on people’s sin I guarantee the sin would take care of itself. I’ve seen it hundreds of times.

      People are quick to respond to “God loves you unconditionally” with “but what about the fact I’m not a good person” or “what about my sins?”…

      The issue they have is not understanding their sins are bad.

      It’s in understanding that their Father is good.

      • I think people often (well I know I did) feel like they have this moral obligation to point out the wrong. Like it would be a ‘sin of omission’ to not let people know everything they are doing wrong, because then you would be implicated in them going astray as you were not giving them ‘the whole truth’. Of course there is an (eventual) place for mature believers guiding new ones in practical day to day life, but telling someone who doesnt even know God that He hates their sin is not that. The other problem is, is that before we are saved (and hopefully not after) we often find identity in our sins. We believe we ARE these things that we do. From that place it’s near impossible to hear that God hates hates the sin and not conclude thay he hates you too.
        Come to think of it, the idea that ‘if you tell someone what they’re doing is wrong, they will stop doing it’ sounds a lot like what the bible says about the law.

        • Those are some great points Cobus – thanks for sharing.

          I think that people identify as having their identity wrapped up in their sin is a big deal – paramount in why they don’t hear the “God loves you but hates your sin” that people insist on telling them.

          • I appreciate this dialogue, but I’m struck by the idea that for Phil to call Cobus to repentance for encouraging others to repent seems like hypocrisy. How can Phil make a list of things that he thinks others should stop doing and then tell Cobus that it is wrong for him to let others know about the things that they should stop doing? Is it good for Phil to tell others to repent, but bad for Cobus to tell others to repent?

          • Hey Dirk – I’m sorry it came across that I was calling Gareth to change in anyway. I was simply entering in the discussion he started.

            Gareth – if you felt that I was doing so I’m very sorry. That was most certainly not my intention.

            For me this isn’t a list of things people have to change but it’s a list to get us thinking that we all have things we say we believe and then act very differently.

            It’s not to judge or condemn anyone else specifically – In fact, the reason I picked that list (as I said in the post) is I’ve been guilty of all of those in the past.

          • Everybody has things they should stop doing. It’s best that God keeps track of this and He will convict us of Righteousness in an area related to what we should be. Not what we should stop being. Unless there is danger involved. Best to let God work with this. Not Christians pointing out an area to stop doing.

  3. This is very good Phil. I can relate because I grew up in a religious environment where I felt like I was never good enough. I struggled hard for God to love me because I was told God can’t be pleased with me because of my sins. Eventually, I just stopped going to church altogether.
    I thank God for leading me to people who showed me what God’s love and grace is all about. When Christians spend so much time pointing out other people’s sins instead of pointing out God’s love, we end up driving them away instead of reconciling them to Christ like we’ve been called to do.

    • Thanks for sharing 4lah! That’s awesome that God has brought people into your life to help you see His love and grace! He is so good!

  4. These are really good points. Lots of us mess up trying to live this Christian life. It does remind me of a phrase we joke about saying when someone says Churches are full of hypocrites. “There’s always room for one more”. But really if you think about it, hypocrites are everywhere….work is full of them, we still go to work. Family is full of them, we still hang out together at least on holidays. ect, ect.

    But, yeah, we as Christians do need to “represent” Jesus much better than we have.

    • Absolutely – I think Christian or not we all need to be aware of this and try to walk out our beliefs in life.

      I think the issue for so many is that Christians have a big reason not to be hypocrites… Christ in them, the Holy Spirit, a loving Father… makes me wonder what we are believing about ourselves :)

    • For me, it’s not an issue of whether or not we hang out together. The problem is that we say we have a better way of living and then fail to live that way ourselves. If we don’t display the power of Christ in us then it seems to me that we are selling a dud product.

  5. Glad that you brought this up, Phil. The argument is age old, but sad that it is so true. I did grow up in the average strict Christian house hold and the churchs i attended all taught me to basically show disapproval when someone was talking about their sin. But that was rooted in trying to keep up an appearance. I do believe that Christians should not have reputations of sinful behavior but I dont believe we should demand it of a world that does not believe on Jesus. Just listening to people, showing them love,acceptance, and the Grace of God will produce tremnedous results! Even if someone decided not to believe, at least we left an impression of the Love of God on their lives. Even in the middle of the belief system of my youth, I never felt comfortable with telling people they were in sin and going to Hell. So imagine my anxiety when approaching unbelievers,” God expects me to tell them they are going to hell, but I just cant do it….forgive my disobedience, Lord” ;) It was tormenting, but that God, He has revealed His Grace and Goodness to me! :)

    • Haha – so true Brock!

      The good news is much easier to share when we focus on sharing the good news rather than the bad!

      Sure there is bad news that makes the good news a requirement… but most people are well aware of their current state – its the good news they are desperate to hear!

  6. Hi phil,

    I’ve been wrestling with this very topic recently. On radio headlines a few weeks ago I heard that the national church were requesting that sports teams (particularly during the commonwealth games) not advertise gambling or payday loan companies on their uniforms because it normalises gambling. I wholeheartedly agree with this as the damage gambling can do is tremendous. However, my local branch of the church has a large banner on their outside wall saying “nation lottery funded”. If that isn’t normalising gambling…I don’t know what is!!
    People are right, the church is full of hypocrites. I am desperate for us to start living in a way that proves them wrong!
    Paula

    • Thanks for sharing Paula – I think we all are a bit hypocritical in one way or another and it shows up in a multitude of ways as you’ve shared in your example.

      Something we should all be on the look out in our lives – God help us! :)

  7. Great list and wonderful conversation. I have two main concerns.

    1.How do we non-hypocritically tell people that they don’t need to change because God loves them as they are and then give them a list of changes they should make?

    2. Is it really up to us to tell people when and how to sow into other’s lives? Is it all grace all the time with absolutely no accountability or is it all law all the time with absolutely no forbearance? Perhaps we should encourage each other to be led by the Holy Spirit? Aren’t both grace and the law from Him and used for good when He is the one leading.. and used for evil when He isn’t the one leading?

    • Thanks Dirk! Great questions to be asking – here are my thoughts:

      No, we shouldn’t be giving people a big list of things to change. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job :)

      Hopefully you didn’t think this list itself was a list of things people should be changing specifically it’s not the point of the post. It’s a list to highlight that none of us free from being hypocritical.

      My goal was to show us that we maybe all can do with occasionally evaluating our lives to see where our professions of faith and our actual works don’t match up. That way we can see where our faith isn’t maybe so solidly placed as we think it might be. And repent (that is – change our mind)

      • Phil, I agree that we could do much better in how we handle people but there needs to be a balance. As we teach about God’s love we also should include a little teaching about correction too. I am a pastor and what I see in many churches today is a total disregard concerning sin. I have spoken to many who believe no matter what they do God covers it so they can go ahead and continue in the old life because God covers it all anyhow. Also many churches now are excusing certain sins and leading people astray. I don’t blame the people I blame the leaders. Like I said there needs to be balance. The Apostle Paul said shall we go on sinning that grace may about, absolutely not. (paraphrase).

        • Hi Pastor Kelly,

          I think this is where the confusion comes in…

          I simply can’t see the statement “As we teach about God’s love we also should include a little teaching about correction too” as a legitimate statement.

          It requires us to separate God’s love from His correction.

          God’s love always corrects and His correction is always loving.

          The reason we have separated these things is because we like to deal with sin and correct it in an unloving way.

          Jesus corrects sin but always in a loving manner. In fact the only time He seems to deal in a very harsh way is when He is dealing with those who felt they were responsible for correcting sin and did it in an unloving way.

          Love doesn’t ignore sin, but it doesn’t punish it, nor does it use shame, guild, condemnation etc. Love simply loves the more and watches sin bow it’s knee.

          Let’s not forget the context of Romans 6:1-2 which you paraphrased… he goes on to say that the reason we cannot “go on sinning” is because of grace. Many say “we’ll grace doesn’t let you go on sinning so here are some rules.”

          No the answer Paul is putting forward is “grace doesn’t let you go on sinning… because there is more grace.”

          The whole prior chapter is about this and that’s why he needs to say Romans 6:1-2 to cover his bases because he knows people will have an issue with his “greasy/hyper/cheap” grace.

          The whole of the rest of Romans 6 explains his point in v1-2. You can’t sin any more if you recognise that you are dead to sin… and the only way to recognise that is to stop living under the law and instead live in grace.

          Thanks for sharing Kelly.

  8. Great thoughts! You touched on this already, but I think the key in all of this is that most Christians (regardless of what they say) don’t really believe the statements on the list on the left side, but deep down in their hearts they believe the list on the right side. The things we say to nonbelievers reflect what we really think about how God feels about us. The solution is definitely not to focus on not saying these things anymore, but to have our minds renewed and begin to see ourselves (and others) the way that God sees us.

    • Absolutely – I like the way John put it in 1 John 4:16 about God’s love… that we “know and believe God loves us”

      I think sometimes we logically know that God loves us… but it’s only when we really believe it that it will take root in our lives.

      How many areas in my life do I know stuff about myself, God, others, my circumstances… and yet I don’t really believe it fully.

      Challenging thought – thanks Travis!

    • Me too Bill! Knowing is half the battle though I guess :) Good thing there is an abundance of grace!

  9. Your last item on the list struck me as particularly noteworthy as I think this discrepancy is perhaps not as readily apparent compared to the other items on your list. In our orthodoxy we proclaim the priesthood of all believers but in our orthopraxy we deny it. This in itself could be the subject of another post of yours. We gather in our “temples” every Sunday to hear one man (hired by us) to speak God’s word to us. Now I’m all for an orderly service but my question is are we being led by the Spirit as individuals and as a congregation when we meet together, or are we instead being led primarily by the order of service as dictated by the church bulletin? Do Paul’s instructions for conducting our church gatherings in 1 Cor 14 have any bearing upon how we do church?

    • Some great thoughts Stuart – I think that’s one that challenges me frequently as well.

      Especially as I probably visit 200-300 churches a year!

      We have created such a crutch out of the church where the pastor is our voice of God, the church is the place we meet God etc.

      If you haven’t read “Pagan Christianity” by Frank Viola before I highly recommend it – I think you’ll really like it!

      Thanks for sharing.

  10. This is just a share: Totally apart from the way my husband treated me….he never went to church, except for the day we were married, nor read the bible, yet he “lived” it and I was the addicted “church goer” and didn’t live & love like he did but “thought” I did. He use to get so mad & call me “you SELF-RIGHTEOUS ONE!” I WAS BLIND but Now as he is gone, I look back & see that he did & said a lot of things to influence me today in the way I live. I can’t sing the song…”I can see clearly now the rain is gone” but at least I am on my way to a better tomorrow because my mind is open for change.

    • That’s so beautiful Donna – what a blessing your husband was to you it sounds like!

      I’m often challenged by the unchurched by how much more like Christ they look at times… especially if they don’t even seem to have a faith! lol

  11. The first two points are ones I am trying to base my walk on. Jesus loved people unconditionally and just spent time with them. Samaritan woman at the well and Nicodemus are two examples of people who on their own made life style changes with out Jesus pointing out their sins. Our job is to love, Holy Spirit will point out Who to believe in. The way so many of us are brought up makes the second column just “sound right.” Thank you Phil for helping keep our eyes clear!

    • Great points Bill – if we could get that much down the world would be a much better place – and we’d be a whole lot happier to boot!

  12. Paul is very clear that we are not to judge the world( those who don`t know the gospel) but we are to judge those with in the body- but even that in love. We are called by Jesus to share the GOOD NEWS and demonstrate the kingdom NOW! Healings- raising dead etc. NOT pointing out their sins. What happens is we end up playing the Holy Spirit and Man flesh does a really poor job of that. The Spirit changes the heart of man we are called to LOVE period. too much judging outside the church while all kinds of crap goes on inside that Paul said we should deal with. It becomes very hypocritical. I have found it much easier to love and release the kingdom and let the Holy Spirit do it`s work than push my beliefs in right or wrong on people. If someone was to ask me my beliefs that is different but I am not going to PUSH it on people. We are called to Love and meet needs PERIOD! SO that the world may see Jesus in US!

  13. Phil: Just discovered your website and blog, thank you.

    I’ve been searching your site for more information on ‘judging’.
    Since I haven’t located the right info, you input would be helpful on this subject.

    A question I have is, about a good Christian brother who no longer has any opinions, about anything, because he says he doesn’t want to judge. Telling me and others that God told him not to judge political leaders.

    However he applies this to every subject. Even when I sought for his consul on a job opportunity. He just shrugs his shoulders and didn’t want to comment. Then later saying that would have been a good job for me to pursue. Very confusing. Maybe not the right person to seek consul from?

    Your comments on judging would be helpful. I know that judging is commented on in Corinthians about behavior in the Church. But, at what point do we become voiceless or without opinion on public news, politics, behavior, etc.

    Recognizing also that there is a right time and place to speak and to be sensitive to others.

    Thank you

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