“You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?
You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?”
(Romans 2:21-22).

What is a hypocrite? It is someone who acts, plays a role, pretends, and uses masks that obscure their true face. Hypocisy has two basic tools that can act individually or in combination:

  • simulation, which consists of showing different than one really is, and
  • dissimulation, or pretense, which is hiding what one does not want to show.

In Romans 2 Paul lays out the hypocritical attitudes of the Jews. In the first place, they boasted about the law because they believed that it made them superior. Boasting is always a sin (even when it is about something true), but more so when it is dealing with a falsehood.

Paul’s fellow citizens and former coreligionists had come to believe that because they knew the divine will they were superior, guides and teachers for others. In reality, they were instructors but were not practitioners. They had the form, the profile, but no depth or content. The apostle tells that they carry the name of Jews as a title and a pretense, but in name only.

They had intellectual but not experiential understanding, in other words, something that did not fill the heart or the soul. It is like rain on the body: it can leave it soaking wet, moisten it, cool it, or heat it; but these are all external effects. There is no humble dependence, no loyalty, no obedience. There is only boasting, hypocrisy, and sin.

The second attitude is that as they did not practice what they taught, they went from boastful hypocrisy to hypocritical falsehood. They said, but did not do; they pretended to be teachers, but were not even students. Paul denounces their hypocrisy in their teaching, preaching, morality, religion, and doctrine- all of which demand faithfulness, authenticity, and coherence. Hypocricy is always a poor testimony; that is why “God’s name [was] blasphemed” (Rom. 2:24).

Let us remember that we cannot fool God at any time and hat “pretending has more letters than being” (Karl Kraus). If “we pretend what we are, let’s be what we pretend” (Pedro Calderón de la Barca) remembering that there is no use in “a form of godliness” but “denying is power” (2 Tim. 3:5).

Ellen G. White, speaking abou the struggle endured by the father of the twelve patriachs, wrote:

“Jacob had come forth a different man. Self-confidence had been uprooted.
Henceforth the early cunning was no longer seen. In place of craft and deception,
his life was marked by simplicity and truth.
He had learned the lesson
of simple reliance upon the Almighty Arm, and amid trial and affliction
he bowed in humble submission to the will of God. The baser elements
of character were consumed in the furnace fire, the true gold was refined,
untill the faith of Abraham and Isaac appeard undimmed in Jacob”
(Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 208).

God bless you, let us be the difference…