Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 6
Thesis: Hypocrisy within a performance system is a sufficient basis for condemnation.
Introduction: We have been looking into Paul's approach to the blind arrogance of those who have embraced the theology of first century Judaism. We have seen that the problem (blind arrogance) is real: those who are "resting" upon their performance of the demands of their religion as adequate for blessing are not even aware that confidence in their performance is arrogant. This evening we are going to look into a portion of Paul's effort to pull the scab off of that festering sore. Everyone knows how painful it is to pull a scab off of a sore that is not yet healed, but self-righteousness is a festering sore that will never heal unless it is exposed without mercy. This physical/medical analogy will fall apart if we press it too far, but we do need to go into our study this evening understanding that those who are self-righteous will resist exposure tooth and nail. But we also need to understand that such "resistance" is at the very heart of the conflict over the Gospel. None can be saved who refuse to allow the reality of their sin to penetrate their souls.
March 8, 2005
- I. At Issue: Hypocrisy.
- A. The series of questions in 2:21-23 are not "seeking unknown answers".
- B. The series of questions in 2:21-23 are a linguistic method of "making accusations".
- C. The "heart" of the questions is found in the word in 2:21 that is translated "another".
- 1. There are two widely used words in Greek for "another".
- a. One means "another of the same kind".
- b. The other means "another of a different kind".
- 2. Paul, putting words into the Jewish mouth, uses the word "another of a different kind" because it was absolutely fundamental to Jewish theology that a "Jew" was sufficiently different from all others as to be qualified to inherit God's Kingdom while all others were under condemnation.
- 3. But, the point of all of Paul's questions is that there is NO DIFFERENCE because the issue of hypocrisy is universally true without exception.
- D. The "heart" of the hypocrisy issue is found in the last question of 2:22.
- 1. Every question raises the hypocrisy issue.
- 2. But the "stink" issue of "abhorring idols" brings the arrogant self-righteousness to a head.
- a. Paul uses the "stink" issue because it is the root issue for "Jews", who "boast in God".
- 1) The "idolatry" problem had a very long history in Judaism until after the Babylonian Captivity.
- a) Before that captivity, the perennial problem that surfaced in all of the prophets of God was the worship of Baal, the Asteroth, and other deities that had caught Israel's fancy.
- b) After that captivity, the problem was "buried" (it wasn't "solved", but it was effectively "sanitized" by "externalism").
- 2) In the first century, the identifying trademark of the "Jew" was that his God was the only true God.
- 3) Thus, the down-the-nose-look by the "Jew" toward any promoter of any other deity.
- b. The problem is that the notorious Jewish covetousness (the fixation on gaining wealth) IS idolatry for one simple reason: wealth is not able to do what all those who chase it believe it can do and that misplaced faith is idolatrous.
- II. The Question: Are Not "Believers" Also Hypocrites?
- A. At some point, when a person is accusing others of "hypocrisy", someone is going to notice that when a person points a finger at others, he almost invariably has at least three of his own fingers pointing back at himself.
- B. And, at some level, the accusation of hypocrisy cannot be escaped by anyone.
- 1. James wrote that "we all stumble in many ways".
- 2. Paul wrote that he did not consider that he "had already attained".
- 3. These are tacit admissions that the high standards of righteousness escape us all.
- III. Why Is It "OK" for Christians to be Hypocrites and Not Jews?
- A. First, the "OK" is only relative.
- 1. Hypocrisy is a sin.
- 2. Hypocrisy is also an inescapable fault of every person alive.
- B. Second, the underlying issue is the difference between the theologies of "salvation by performance" and "salvation by grace".
- 1. Under a "perform or die" theology, hypocrisy will kill.
- 2. Under a "perform because you are alive" theology, hypocrisy is simply a matter of the issues of growth to maturity. It will bring on discipline, but not condemnation for one simple reason: those who don't have to perform to be saved will not be condemned for erratic behavior.
- C. Third, the underlying difference between the theologies exists in the nature of the "demand(s)" made.
- 1. Someone is going to observe that "Christianity" makes its own demand for which salvation is given or refused.
- 2. But, the difference is that the "demand" of Christianity consists in a "demand" for a cessation of what is being done while all other "demand theologies" require an embracing of "getting with it" in respect to required actions.