What is Hypocrisy and Why is it Bad + Why is the Bible Violent? #274

Happy weekend, friends! Shorter episodes today and tomorrow because it is the weekend, so a bit less commentary, and a bit more Word of God, which sounds like a good plan to me. I am not only a podcaster, but I’m also a listener of podcasts – currently subscribed to about 100 – and one of my favorites is the Ask Pastor John podcast. In this week’s episode, he got a question that made me chuckle. Why is the Bible so violent, a listener wondered. He had been seeking to listen to the Bible in a year, and was listening through Judges, got to Judges 19, and was pretty appalled at the violence, and was curious what good all of the depictions in the Bible were for its readers. I think it is a great question, and it made me chuckle, because 1st and 2nd Samuel are every bit as violent as Judges, if not more – a fact I jokingly reference most days that we’ve been reading those passages (though today’s passage is not violent at all.) I love Piper’s answer, so I want to reproduce parts of it here, because I’m sure you’ve wondered too:

We live in a very soft, easily offended, emotionally fragile culture that unfits us to grasp what most of history has been like, and what most of the world is still like. I think God gave us the Bible the way it is, with all the horrors, partly because he knew the day would come when we would be so spoiled, so cocooned, so overprotected, so coddled that we would not have the emotional and mental capacities to grasp utterly crucial realities in the Bible and in the world… There are truths about God and about his ways in this world, and there are truths about sin and judgment, that, unless we have been made resilient in the face of horrors, we will not be able to grasp. We won’t be able to grasp them with any sense of proportion and truth.

All of that to say that I hope you will press on in immersing yourself in the whole Bible year after year. Those horrors are there for a reason.

And then Piper lists three reasons, which I will shorten here: 

  1. Unrestrained rebellion: So, let me cut to the chase and give three answers to the question, Why is there so much violence in the Bible? Let’s start with the context of the book of Judges. Four times in the book of Judges, we read this sentence: “In those days there was no king in Israel” (Judges 17:618:119:121:25). And in two of those instances, that sentence is followed by: “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:621:25).
  2. We live in a fallen and sinful world: And the biblical answer is that when sin entered the world, described in Genesis 3 — that is, when God-opposing, God-rejecting, God-disparaging, God-demeaning treason against God entered the world — God responded not simply by judging man’s emotions and thinking and willing and relationships, but also he responded by subjecting the human body and the entire material and physical creation to his judgment. And we see that in Genesis 3, and we hear it explicitly in Romans 8:20: “The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it [God], in hope.” Now, why did God do that? Why did he ordain that the effect of moral evil would be displayed in the horrors of physical evil — earthquakes, floods, famines, pandemics, wars, and every manner of horrible mistreatment of man on man? Oh my. He did it because he knew that people who are dead in their trespasses and sins would never comprehend the moral outrage of treason against God unless they saw it reflected in the physical outrage of violence against men. Nobody loses sleep over their treason against God. But let their physical body be touched with cancer or their house be touched with rioting, and then their emotions really rise up with moral indignation. Violence and suffering exist in this world as a divine witness to the meaning and the seriousness and the outrage of sin against God.
  3. We are Saved by Violence: There’s one more answer to why there is so much violence in the world and in the Bible. Revelation 13:8 says that there was a book in God’s presence before the foundation of the world. And the name of the book is “the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” All thoughtful Christians know that at the center of our faith and at the foundation of our salvation is one of the grossest, most violent and gory events in the history of the world — namely, the crucifixion of the Son of God. There is no salvation without this violence….Now, we might plan a different kind of world and a different kind of salvation from eternity to eternity if we were God, but that isn’t our choice. God planned to save us through violence — the gruesome death of his infinitely precious Son. And he said that this is how we know his love. “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And we know how he died. Christ died for us. There is no softening the death of Christ, as though it were a little gold symbol hung around our pretty necks.

Great answer, pastor John Piper! 

Source: https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/why-is-the-bible-so-violent Go subscribe to that podcast!

Our Bible passages today include 2nd Samuel 22, Psalms 78, Ezekiel 29 and Galatians 2. Our focus passage is all about the dangers of hypocrisy, so let’s read Galatians 2 and then discuss it.

So, an interesting occurrence here – especially if you’ve never read it Paul calls out Peter – an apostle and disciple of Jesus – for hypocrisy. That is news in and of itself, but we need to first discuss what hypocrisy actually is. Our word for hypocrisy comes from the Greek verb, “ὑποκρίνομαι hypokrínomai,” and it is a pretty fascinating word. It means to feign, or pretend or to act. Something less than genuine – a pretender. We see the verb in Luke 20:20, where a group of spies sent from the religious leaders tried to make Jesus stumble:

20 They watched closely and sent spies who pretended to be righteous, so that they could catch him in what he said, to hand him over to the governor’s rule and authority.

Probably the clearest definition of hypocrisy is given in the Bible in Matthew 23, where Jesus calls out the Scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy SEVEN times:

23 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples: “The scribes and the Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses.Therefore do whatever they tell you, and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach.

Matthew 23:1-3

A hypocrite is a pretender then – pretending to follow God and obey the way of Jesus, but actually not doing so with our actions. A hypocrite doesn’t practice what they preach, which is exactly what Peter was doing in this passage. Knowing that the gospel was for the Jews and Gentiles, Peter would eat and fellowship with them when other Jewish Christians weren’t around, but when Jewish Christian leaders from Jerusalem came, Peter stopped associating with those Gentiles, apparently trying to pretend to still follow Jewish rules on eating and such…and Paul called him out for this hypocrisy. Let me repeat: PETER – the leader of the apostles, the mighty evangelist, the disciple of Jesus, the author of Scripture…was a hypocrite. That’s not headline news, dear friends, because you and I? We’re hypocrites too. Not all of the time…but regularly our way of life and our actions don’t always line up with our confession of Christ.

When the professions of our faith and the way we identify ourselves don’t line up with our actions and the way we treat people, we become actors/hypocrites/pretenders, and very few things repulse people away from Jesus more than hypocritical Christians. It is not without cause that Jesus warned His disciples:

“Be on your guard against the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.

Luke 12:1


May we be on our guard too – daily – against this most dangerous and sinful state of being.


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