“But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
(Acts 5:1–2, NKJV)
Hypocrisy is defined as someone who wears the mask. In Greek plays, The actor would show emotion by wearing the appropriate veneer. It made for great drama with little effort. Jesus called the religious people of his day hypocrites:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
(Matthew 23:27–28, NKJV)
They wore the mask of religiosity that caused the people to think that they were more righteous than they were. They were able to have power, position and wealth because of their outward appearance. Ananias and Sapphira saw the reaction of the apostles and all the people to Barnabas’ selfless act of selling his property and giving the money to provide for the poor. He was lauded and honored. They wanted the same thing for themselves.
The hypocrite flaunts their righteousness for gain, but are fully unrighteous on the inside. The story of Lazarus’ raising illustrates the difference between those who are hypocrites and those who struggle with sin.
“And he who had died [Lazarus] came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.””
(John 11:44, NKJV)
The process of taking the graveclothes off is called sanctification and involves a struggle at times. The Christian can be tempted and can sometimes succumb to that temptation. However, they have a strong desire to love Jesus and live for Him, pleasing Him, doing what He wants.
A hypocrite lives in the grave, but a Christian has been raised to new life.
Which one are you?