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Hypocritical Christians?

Question
If God is perfect, why are so many true Christians hypocritical, jumped-up snobs?
Answer
Indeed, God is perfect in every way. The Bible, God's resource on Himself, states,

Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

2 Samuel 22:31-33 As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.

Job 37:16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge?

When a person becomes a Christian by the grace of God alone (Eph. 2:8-10) he indeed does change (2 Cor. 5:17). However, he or she does not immediately become perfect (Eph. 4:7, 12-13, etc.). Only at death (Phil. 1:23) or in the last days when Christians are glorified (1 Cor. 15:42 f) and come to perfect rest with God himself will they be perfect and unable to be hypocritical, jumped-up snobs, and assorted other things (Rom. 3:23; Eph. 2:3) that are despicable especially to God.

While I would not agree that "all" Christians are hypocritical and jumped-up snobs, many, unfortunately, are. Even worse are what's observed of some Christians in the historical past and particularly of God's people in the Bible, such as murderers (2 Sam. 11-12, David sends Uriah to his death), liars (Gen. 27:14-24, Jacob's lies), adulterers (2 Sam. 11-12, David and Bathsheba). How can this be?

The answer lies in our understanding that individuals become Christians not because they have lived such a good life or are in any way worthy (Rom. 9:11-13), but because of God's grace alone (Rom. 9:15-16, 23). Where sin abounds, grace abounds much more (Rom. 5:20). Though a Christian's sins are great and varied (Rom. 3:10-18; Ex. 20:1-15; Deut. 5:6-21, etc.), Christ's perfection and grace are still more plentiful. And though there has been great sin, there has been an even greater and more perfect sacrifice - that of the Son of God himself (Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 9:11). For the true Christian, though he will "sin less" as he progresses in his individual journey, he will not be "sinless" until death or at the return of Christ!

Some, of course, will attempt to misuse this marvelous truth and continue to sin more and more (Rom. 6:15). A label for this is antimonianism. But this just proves that they were never true recipients of grace in the first place (Rom. 6:16; Mark 4:13-19). The true recipient of grace, though he may blow it at times and blow it bad like David or like Peter when he denied Christ (Mark 14:66-72), still he has within himself a new nature to desire to want to do good (Rom. 6:17-18).

May God give the reader grace and mercy as the Holy Spirit applies his message to the soul.

Answer by Joseph R. Nally

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).