19. What is hypocrisy?
Relevant Words of God:
What is the definition of the term “Pharisee”? It is someone who is hypocritical, who is fake and puts on an act in everything they do, pretending to be good, kind, and positive. Is that what they’re actually like? They’re hypocritical, and so everything that is manifested and revealed in them is false, it is all pretense—it is not their true face. Their true face is hidden within their hearts; it is out of sight. If people do not pursue the truth, if they do not understand the truth, then what do their religious knowledge and the theories they’ve gained become? Do they become words of doctrine that people often speak of? People use these so-called correct doctrines to pretend and package themselves nicely. Wherever they go, the things they talk about, the things they say, and their external behavior appear right and good to others. They are all in line with man’s notions and tastes. In others’ eyes, they’re devout and humble. They are forbearing, tolerant, and loving toward others. Actually, it’s all fake—it’s all pretense. On the outside, they are loyal to God, but behind the scenes, everything they do is perfunctory. Superficially, they have given up their family and career, they work hard and expend themselves—but in fact they are secretly profiting from the church and stealing offerings! Everything they outwardly reveal, all their behavior is fake! This is what is meant by a hypocritical Pharisee. Where do “Pharisees”—these people come from? Do they appear among the unbelievers? They all appear among believers. Why do these believers turn into that? Could it be that the words of God made them that way? The reason they become like that is mainly that they took the wrong path. They take God’s words as a tool with which to arm themselves; they arm themselves with these words and treat them as capital to secure a living, to get something for nothing. They do nothing but preach religious doctrines, and they have never followed God’s way. Their supposedly good behavior and good conduct, that little bit that they have given up and expended is entirely forced, it’s all an act that they put on. They’re entirely fake; it’s all pretense. In these people’s hearts there is not the slightest reverence for God, and they don’t even have any true belief in God. More than that, they are of the unbelievers. If people don’t pursue the truth, they will walk this kind of path, and they will become Pharisees. Isn’t it frightful?
from “Six Indicators of Progress in Life” in Records of Christ’s Talks
The pursuit of superficial good behavior, then doing your utmost to create a pretense for yourselves using the appearance of spirituality; impersonating a spiritual person; giving the appearance of spirituality in what you say, do, and reveal; doing a few things that, in people’s notions and imaginings, are praiseworthy—all this is the pursuit of false spirituality, and it is hypocrisy. You stand upon high speaking words and theory, telling people to do good deeds, to be good people, and to focus on pursuing the truth, but in your own behavior and the performance of your duty, you have never sought the truth, you have never acted according to the principles of the truth, you have never understood what is spoken of in the truth, what God’s will is, what the standards that He requires of man are—you’ve never taken any of this seriously. When you encounter some issues, you act entirely according to your own will and put God aside. Are these external actions and internal states the fear of God and shunning of evil? If there is no connection between people’s faith and their pursuit of the truth, no matter how many years they believe in God, they will be incapable of genuinely fearing God and shunning evil. And so what kind of path can people like that walk? What do they spend their days equipping themselves with? Isn’t it with words and theories? Do they not spend their days arming themselves, dressing themselves up with words and theories, to make themselves more like the Pharisees, more like people who supposedly serve God? What are all these actions? They’re just going through the motions; they’re waving the flag of faith and performing religious rites, trying to deceive God in order to achieve their aim of being blessed. They do not worship God at all.
from “Only If You Live Before God at All Times Can You Walk the Path of Salvation” in Records of Christ’s Talks
Some men have a penchant for drawing attention to themselves. In the presence of their brothers and sisters, they say they are indebted to God, but behind their backs, they do not practice the truth and do entirely otherwise. Are they not religious Pharisees? A man who truly loves God and has the truth is one who is loyal to God, but does not outwardly reveal so. He is willing to practice the truth when matters arise and does not speak or act in a manner going against his conscience. He demonstrates wisdom when matters arise and is principled in his deeds, no matter the circumstances. A man such as this is one who truly serves. There are some who often pay lip service to their indebtedness to God. They spend their days with brows locked in worry, put on an affected air, and feign a wretched countenance. How despicable! And if you were to ask them, “In what ways are you indebted to God? Please tell me!” they would be rendered speechless. If you are loyal to God, then speak not of it in public, but use your actual practice to show your love for God, and pray to Him with a true heart. Those who use only words to deal with God are all hypocrites! Some speak of indebtedness to God with each prayer, and begin to weep whenever they pray, even without the moving of the Holy Spirit. Men such as this are possessed by religious rituals and notions; they live by such rituals and notions, always believing that such actions please God, and that superficial godliness or sorrowful tears are that which God favors. What good can come of such absurd ones? In order to demonstrate their humility, some feign graciousness when speaking in the presence of others. Some are deliberately servile in the presence of others, like a lamb without any strength at all. Is this the manner of people of the kingdom? A person of the kingdom should be lively and free, innocent and open, honest and lovely; one who lives in a state of freedom. He has integrity and dignity, and can stand witness wherever he goes; he is one beloved by both God and man. Those who are novice in the faith have too many outward practices; they must first undergo a period of dealing and breaking. Those who have faith in God in their hearts are not outwardly distinguishable to others, but their actions and deeds are commendable to others. Only such men can be deemed to be living out the word of God. If you preach the gospel every day to this person and that, bringing them to salvation, yet in the end, you are still living in rules and doctrines, then you cannot bring glory to God. Such manner of men are religious people, and hypocrites too.
Whenever such religious people congregate, they ask, “Sister, how have you been these days?” She replies, “I feel indebted to God and that I am unable to fulfill His heart’s desire.” Another says, “I, too, am indebted to God and unable to satisfy Him.” These few sentences and words alone express the vile things deep within their hearts. Such words are the most loathsome and exceedingly repugnant. The nature of such men opposes God. Those who focus on reality communicate whatever is in their hearts and open their hearts in communication. There is not a single false exercise, no civilities or empty pleasantries. They are always straightforward and observe no earthly rules. There are those who have a penchant for outward display, even without any sense. When another sings, he begins to dance, not even realizing that the rice in his pot has already burned. Such manner of men are not godly or honorable, and are far too frivolous. These are all manifestations of the lack of reality. When some people commune about the matters of life in the spirit, though they speak not of indebtedness to God, they retain a true love for Him within their hearts. Your indebtedness to God has nothing to do with others; you are indebted to God, not man. So what use is it for you to constantly speak of this to others? You must place importance on entering into reality, not outward zeal or display.
What do the superficial good deeds of man represent? They represent the flesh, and even the best of outward practices do not represent life, only your own individual temperament. The outward practices of man cannot fulfill the desire of God. You constantly speak of your indebtedness to God, yet you cannot supply the life of others or provoke others to love God. Do you believe that such actions will satisfy God? You believe that this is God’s heart’s desire, that this is of the spirit, but in truth this is absurd! You believe that what pleases you and what you wish is that which God delights in. Can what pleases you represent that of God? Can the character of man represent God? What pleases you is precisely that which God abhors, and your habits are that which God loathes and rejects. If you feel indebted, then go and pray before God. There is no need to speak of it to others. If you do not pray before God and instead constantly draw attention to yourself in the presence of others, can this fulfill the desire of God’s heart? If your actions are always in appearance only, this means that you are the most vain of men. What manner of man is he who only has superficial good deeds but is devoid of reality? Such men are hypocritical Pharisees and religious people! If you do not put off your outward practices and cannot make changes, then the elements of hypocrisy in you will grow even more. The greater the elements of hypocrisy, the more resistance there is to God, and in the end, such manner of men will surely be cast away!
from “Believing in God Should Focus on Reality, Not Religious Rituals” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
A normal spiritual life is to live a life before God. When praying one can quiet one’s heart before God, and through prayer one can seek for enlightenment by the Holy Spirit, know God’s words, and can understand the will of God. When eating and drinking the words of God one can be clearer and more lucid on what God wants to do right now, and one can have a new path of practice and not be conservative, so that all one’s practice is for the purpose of achieving progress in life. For example, one’s prayer is not for the purpose of saying some nice words, or to bawl before God to express one’s debt, but rather it is to practice exercising one’s spirit, to quiet one’s heart before God, to practice searching for the guidance of God’s words in all things, to make one’s heart a heart that is drawn toward new light every day, to neither be passive nor lazy, and to enter onto the right track of practicing God’s words. Currently most people are focused on methods, and are not trying to pursue truth to achieve progress in life; this is where people deviate. There are also some people who, even though they are able to receive new light, their methods are unchanging; they integrate religious notions of the past to receive the word of God today, and what they take in is still the doctrine which carries religious notions with it, and they are not taking in purely the light of today. Therefore, their practices are impure—they are doing the same thing with a new name, and no matter how good their practice, it is still hypocritical. God guides people to do new things daily, and requires people to have new insights and new understanding every day, and not to be old-fashioned or monotonous. If you have believed in God for many years, but your methods have not changed at all, if you are still ardent and busy on the outside, and do not come before God to enjoy His words with a quiet heart, then you will not be able to obtain anything.
from “Regarding a Normal Spiritual Life” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Why do you believe in God? Most people are confounded by this question. They always have two entirely different viewpoints about the practical God and the God in heaven, which shows that they believe in God not in order to obey Him, but to receive certain benefits, or to escape the suffering that disaster brings; only then are they somewhat obedient. Their obedience is conditional; it is for the sake of their own personal prospects, and forced upon them. So, just why do you believe in God? If it is solely for the sake of your prospects and your fate, then it would be better if you did not believe at all. Belief such as this is self-deception, self-reassurance, and self-admiration. If your faith is not built upon the foundation of obedience to God, then you will ultimately be punished for opposing Him. All those who do not seek obedience to God in their faith oppose Him. God asks that people seek the truth, that they thirst for His words, eat and drink His words, and put them into practice, so that they may achieve obedience to God. If these are your true intentions, then God will surely raise you up, and will surely be gracious toward you. This is undoubtable and unchangeable. If your intention is not to obey God, and you have other aims, then all that you say and do—your prayers before God, and even your every action—will be in opposition to Him. You may be soft-spoken and mild-mannered, your every action and expression may look proper, and you may appear to be one who obeys, but when it comes to your intentions and your views about faith in God, everything you do is in opposition to God; everything you do is evil. People who appear as obedient as sheep, but whose hearts harbor evil intentions, are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They directly offend God, and God will not spare a single one of them. The Holy Spirit will reveal each and every one of them and show everybody that all those who are hypocrites will, with certainty, be detested and rejected by the Holy Spirit. Worry not: God will reckon with and dispose of every last one of them in turn.
from “In Your Faith in God You Should Obey God” in The Word Appears in the Flesh
Sermon and Fellowship Excerpts for Reference:
Distinguishing whether pastors and elders are hypocritical Pharisees and antichrists or not cannot be done by just looking at how they treat people on the outside. The main thing is to look at how they treat the Lord and the truth. On the outside they can be loving toward believers, but do they have love toward the Lord? If they are quite loving toward people but are full of boredom and hate toward the Lord and the truth, and judge and condemn Christ of the last days—Almighty God, then aren’t they hypocritical Pharisees? Aren’t they antichrists? They seem to preach and work hard outwardly, but if it is for the sake of being crowned and rewarded, then does this mean that they obey and are loyal to the Lord? To distinguish whether someone is hypocritical, we mainly have to look inside their hearts and see their intentions. That is the most important thing about distinguishing. God searches people’s innermost hearts. So to see if a person truly loves and obeys the Lord, the main thing is to look at whether they practice and adhere to His word and uphold His commandments, and moreover look at whether they exalt the Lord Jesus and bear witness to Him, and if they follow God’s will. We see that the Pharisees often explained the Scriptures to people in synagogues, held on to the rules of the Bible for everything, and were also loving toward believers. But in reality, everything they did was not practicing God’s word or upholding God’s commandments, but was done to be seen by people. Just as the Lord Jesus said when He exposed them: “But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments” (Mat 23:5). They even purposely stood in the synagogues and on the street corners to engage in long prayers. During fasting they purposely made their faces look very sad, so that people could tell that they were fasting. They even deliberately did good deeds in the streets so that people could all see. They even continued to hold on to ancient traditions and religious rituals such as “Do not eat unless you wash the hands carefully.” … To deceive believers into supporting and worshiping them, the Pharisees kept making a big deal out of small things to disguise themselves, and they only led believers to engage in religious worship, singing and praise, or holding on to some ancestral traditions, but did not lead believers to practice God’s word, keep God’s commandments, and enter the reality of the truth. Moreover, they did not lead believers to practice the truth and obey and worship God. All they did was use some external actions to confuse and deceive believers! When the Lord Jesus came to preach and work, for the sake of protecting their own status and livelihoods, these Pharisees who pretended to be godly actually openly abandoned God’s laws and commandments under the guise of “defending the Bible.” They made up rumors, bore false witness, and furiously condemned and framed the Lord Jesus, doing all they could to block believers from following the Lord Jesus. In the end, they even colluded with those in power to nail the Lord Jesus to the cross. Accordingly, the Pharisees’ hypocritical and truth-hating essence was completely exposed. Their antichrist essence was thereby completely revealed. This shows that the essence of the Pharisees was hypocritical, treacherous, deceitful and malicious. They were all false shepherds who abandoned God’s way, deceived people and caged people. They deceived and bound believers, controlling the religious world to oppose God, furiously denying, condemning and hating the incarnate Christ. This is sufficient to prove that they were the antichrists who wanted to erect their own independent kingdom!
Now we see clearly the various expressions of the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. When we compare them to today’s religious pastors and elders, would we not discover that they are just like the Pharisees and are all people who don’t practice the Lord’s word or follow the Lord’s commandments, and moreover not people who exalt the Lord and bear witness to the Lord? They are just people who blindly believe in the Bible, worship the Bible, and exalt the Bible. They just hold on to various religious rituals, such as attending regular services, morning watch, breaking bread, partaking of Holy Communion, and so forth. They only pay attention to talking to people about being humble, patient, godly and loving, but they don’t love God in their hearts, and moreover they don’t obey God and don’t have a heart that reveres God at all. Their work and preaching only focuses on holding on to and explaining Bible knowledge and theological theory. But when it comes to how to practice and experience the Lord’s word, how to keep the Lord’s commandments and how to spread and testify to the Lord’s word, how to follow the will of the heavenly Father, how to truly love God, obey God, and worship God, and all such things that the Lord Jesus asks of mankind, they do not seek, do not explore, and do not figure out the Lord’s intentions, and moreover do not lead people to practice or comply. The purpose of them going around everywhere preaching Bible knowledge and theological theory is to show off themselves, build up themselves, and make people look up to and worship them. Therefore, when Almighty God came to express truths and perform His judgment work of the last days, these pastors and elders, for the sake of achieving permanent power in the religious world, and for their ambition of controlling believers and creating their own independent kingdom, openly violated the word of the Lord Jesus, making up rumors, judging, attacking and blaspheming Almighty God, doing their utmost to block believers from seeking and investigating the true way. For example, the Lord Jesus taught people to be wise virgins: When people hear someone yell “Behold, the bridegroom comes,” they should go out to welcome Him. But after pastors and elders heard news of the Lord Jesus’ second coming, they instead did all they could to seal off the church and prevent believers from seeking and investigating the true way. The Lord Jesus taught people to love our neighbor as ourselves. Yet, they incited believers to slander and beat brothers and sisters who testify to Almighty God’s work of the last days. The Lord Jesus asked people not to lie, not to bear false witness, but pastors and elders made up all sorts of lies to slander Almighty God, and even colluded with the devilish CCP to resist and condemn Almighty God’s work of the last days and smear The Church of Almighty God. … From this we can see that what religious pastors and elders have said and done completely violates the Lord’s teachings. They are just like the hypocritical Pharisees. They are all people who blindly lead people, resist God, and deceive people.
from Classic Questions and Answers on the Gospel of the Kingdom