Three Ways Jesus Handled Posers, Fakes, and Hypocrites

Most of us operate under the delusion that posers, fakers, and hypocrites are easy to spot.

The truth is that some are, others aren’t. According to 1 Timothy 5:24, “The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.” We’ve all been fooled by someone we admired, followed, or loved.

This even holds true for the hypocrite hiding in our own mirror.

We can become so convinced of our own righteousness, so accustomed to operating in a way that looks like faith, that we’re caught off guard when we catch a glimpse of fakery or hypocrisy behind our own masks.

It can be so frightening that, rather than deal with it, we simply resecure our cover and vow to be more cautious in front of others.

This is what America is experiencing in the mirror of 2020.

The year prior, we imagined we’d made more progress in some areas or were more unified than it turns out that we are. In 2019, even the American church could convince itself that more of us had an understanding of how to apply God’s Word to complex situations. Sort of. Not now.

As the trials of this year pressed in on us, cracks and chasms appeared in our understanding of ourselves which isn’t all bad news. My college psychology professor repeatedly stated that “the truth is always our friend.” It’s not always comfortable or easy to take or palatable, but it’s always the safest place to stand in a storm.

Some of us have been faking our love for others – in ways that even fool us – because that love hasn’t been truly tested against self-love. Some have faked faith altogether while some have made a habit of faking some of the time, assuming the breaches in their faith walls were nothing to worry about.

There are full-blown hypocrites among us, even in our leadership, but there are also part-time hypocrites. People in process toward becoming all that Christ calls us to be who fall back on old habits when the going gets tough.

How does Jesus react to this?

Are we right to rush to reapply our masks and quickly tuck in whatever messiness has slipped out in the process of navigating 2020 to avoid disappointing God?

Read the gospel of Luke and watch Jesus interact with the Pharisees and religious rulers of the day. It is here we see exactly how Jesus handles fakers, hypocrites, and posers.

Jesus walked among us during times much like our own.

Those who followed God and who awaited the Messiah were a mixed bag. Some were sincere, ready to repent, and open-eyed about the coming kingdom. Others trusted in their own righteousness and relied on checklists and a religious system for salvation.

The church in that day had its divisions within and its enemies from outside. There was cultural pressure to compromise and to make idols of political leaders. There was temptation to bank earthly power in the event that heaven failed to come through.

Jesus was completely non-plussed by any aspect of what He found in humanity. He handled posers, hypocrites, and fakers in three ways.

First, and most important, He died for them.

That’s right. Jesus died to save posers, fakers, and hypocrites just as He died to save outcasts, prostitutes, and tax collectors.

From the cross, having suffered at their hands, He asked His Father to forgive them – knowing it was their plotting and deception that orchestrated the human actions leading to His death.

Every parable He told on the way to Jerusalem was a plea to those about to miss out to come into the banquet He was throwing for all the sinners who came home. He is the generous father, loving lavishly, in the parable of the prodigal, longing for the elder brother to join His feast.

Jesus loves posers, fakers, and hypocrites. He doesn’t want us to perish for eternity. But He knows we won’t make it without Him.

So, He wants us to rip off our masks, face the truth in the mirror of His Word, and run home where He can help us handle and repair reality.

We must all be cautious about condemning, hating, or despising those who are faking it with the world. Yes, of course, it’s as wrong as sex trafficking, violence, and drug addiction. But the people engaging in the mask-wearing are created in God’s image, wholly-loved, and His desire is for them to come to salvation.

Second, Jesus doesn’t play the same games.

Jesus operates from a completely different matrix than every other leader or person of power or poser or faker. There is nothing false in Jesus. No deception. No darkness. No mask.

He didn’t run for Messiah. He doesn’t need polls to know what lurks in our hearts. And His intelligence surpasses all humanity’s put together so we can’t trick Him or fool Him into our traps.

They tried. From the start of His ministry, they plotted and hunted and queried and conspired. But only in the fullness of God’s time did Jesus lay down His life.

We can have the mind of Christ when dealing with hypocrites. We don’t win by engaging in their games. We don’t act as they did by whispering and back-door conspiracies. We call out their nonsense. Speak the truth of God’s Word. And remember the truth is our friend even if it leads to our death.

Third, Jesus didn’t mince words.

Jesus wasn’t always nice.

We know that if we have a loved one about to walk a dangerous, deadly path like taking heroine or engaging in prostitution or considering suicide we don’t mince words in trying to persuade them to make a better choice.

Our love and the urgency of their situation compels us to speak directly, frankly, and in ways that aren’t always polite.

There is a time to call people out. To speak straight truth. To reference hell and judgment. It’s usually when dealing with hypocrites, posers, and fakes.

But for the words to have effect, they must come from the same heart of love that Jesus had for the Jewish people. We must be willing to die for them and not imagine we’ll rejoice if they remain hiding behind their deception and lies.

Let’s not pretend that most of us don’t struggle on some level with presenting one face to the world while living another privately. It’s not right. We must draw near to Christ and so draw closer to living truth every moment of every day.

There is no room for deception and lies in the kingdom of God. We must address it. Speak truth to it. Not play games for even a moment. Sometimes we have to not be nice.

But we must always remember we’re dealing with people for whom Jesus laid down His love. People He loves. Who bear His image.

And long, not for their destruction and downfall, but for their transformation in Christ.

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1 Comment

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  1. Maureen Miller says:

    Thank you again for these wise words. I’m always better for them. They challenge me to live more like Jesus—not only in little ways but in broader ways, as well. I desire to make an impact for Christ, and so often your words give me courage! Though it may seem small, they help me know I’m not alone. Blessings, dear Lori!