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Hypocrites in the Church Hypocrites in the Church

Hypocrites in the Church


Many people who have no interest in the church often claim that it is full of hypocrites. They might give examples based on personal experience. These usually begin with the phrase, “I used to know someone who believed the way you do and she. . . .” And if by hypocrite they mean someone whose beliefs and actions are not consistent, then we must agree that these church skeptics are right.

One comfort from today’s text is that hypocrisy in the church is not unique to our age. It was present in the early church as well. Acts 5:1–11 describes the hypocrisy of Ananias and Sapphira, who sold a piece of property and then pretended to donate the entire proceeds of the sale to the church. They seem to have been motivated by the example of Barnabas but were unwilling to make a similar sacrifice. They kept back part for themselves.

Peter’s response indicates that their sin was not that they failed to give the entire amount; it was theirs to do with as they pleased (v. 4). Ananias and Sapphira sinned because they attempted to deceive the Holy Spirit. They were stealing by saying that they were giving the whole amount to God but instead keeping part for themselves. Peter did not place a curse on the couple but merely announced what the Spirit was about to do in response to their actions.

God’s response to the couple’s behavior may seem harsh, but it is a sobering reminder of how seriously God takes sin. The death of Ananias and Sapphira was meant to make an impression on the early church (v. 11). It should be a wake-up call for us as well. We should be honest about the church’s hypocrisy, but we should not be complacent.

Pray with Us

Donor Development team, headed by vice president Bruce Everhart, expands Moody’s outreach to our friends across the country and around the world. Today, will you pray for Daniel Munoz, Claire Kniowski, and Georgette Whittenhall?

BY Dr. John Koessler

John Koessler is Professor Emeritus of Applied Theology and Church Ministries at Moody Bible Institute. John authors the “Practical Theology” column for Today in the Word of which he is also a contributing writer and theological editor. An award-winning author, John’s newest title is When God is Silent: Let the Bible Teach You to Pray (Kirkdale). Prior to joining the Moody faculty, he served as a pastor of Valley Chapel in Green Valley, Illinois, for nine years. He and his wife, Jane, now enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan.

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