It is no secret that one reason many unbelievers reject “religion” is because of what they perceive as hypocrisy within the church. The natural response from believers is to explain that Christians are just human beings; that we are not perfect, that we make mistakes, and that we are still sinners even though we “follow” Christ. When we respond in that way are we, in effect, making excuses for our hypocrisy? Are we side-stepping their argument by justifying sin? Are we pushing unbelievers further away by agreeing with them that hypocrisy can be found within the church while, at the same time, not condemning that same hypocrisy? If we do, I would argue that unbelievers are, in a way, justified in their resistances to the faith. If we are okay with not practicing what we preach, or condoning or minimizing the sin that we commit, how can unbelievers see that we are any different than the world? Paul warns the Jews about this in Romans, chapter 2, verses 21-24 which says:
“You, then, who teach others, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that people should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: ‘God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’”
It is true that we all sin. But to justify, or to minimize, sin when addressing any hypocrisy that the world sees in the church, in my opinion, is counter productive. One problem I have with how far the world has gone away from biblical principles, is that, not only is it happening, but sinful behavior is being celebrated and presented as “good”. We, as believers, should at least acknowledge that even though hypocrisy can be found in the church, that it shouldn’t be, that it isn’t good and that God is against it. When we justify hypocrisy, we begin to sound like the world. Without saying it, we may project the idea that it is okay; that it is normal and expected behavior. We may even begin to project that it is accepted behavior. When we do, we may find that “God’s name is blasphemed” among unbelievers because of it.
I understand the sentiment behind believers saying that the main difference between believers and unbelievers is that we are forgiven. But shouldn’t our differences be more than that? The Bible reminds us that we are to live in the world but we are not of the world. We shouldn’t look like them and we shouldn’t act like them. When we minimize sin, we are saying, whether overtly or in the subtext, that “we are just like you, we only claim to be different”. We are saying that sin and Christianity does, and should, go hand in hand. But that is not what the Bible says. The Bible reminds us that sin separates us from God. It reminds us that we shouldn’t use our security in Christ as a license to sin. It reminds us that we are to be perfect as Christ is perfect. That is the goal. Yes, we fall short, but we should never be okay with that, because when we are it could be said that, “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”