“Hypokrinomai,” “Hypokrisis,” and “Hypocrites” are Greek words denoting someone acting out the part of a character in a play. In Greek drama, the actors held over their faces oversized masks painted to represent the character they were portraying. In life, the hypocrite is a person who masks his/her real self while playing a part for an audience (Richard’s Expository Dictionary of Bible Words).
A hypocrite is one who deliberately and as a habit professes to be good when he is aware that he is not (New Bible Dictionary).
Psa. 55:12-14, 21 What was true of one of David’s close companions (Psa. 55:21)?
What makes this kind of situation so painful?
Have you ever had someone who you thought was a close friend turn on you, while in front of you, he/she said nice things about or to you?
Or, have you ever done this to a friend of yours?
Ex. 24:7 What verbal commitment to God did the Israelites make?
Even though the words were good, what was true about the hearts of the Israelites (Psa. 78:37)?
What had the Jews done with their mouth and tongue (Psa. 78:36)?
Have you ever done this to God with your mouth and tongue?
Or, have you ever covered your half-heartedness toward God with wholehearted words?
What is one thing that influenced these Jews to lose faith in God and thus become half-hearted (Psa. 78:42)?
Do you think a person’s concept of God will affect their love and zeal toward Him?
How can you be whole-hearted toward God – so that you don’t have to hide a lukewarm heart with words of hypocrisy?
Prov. 15:8 What does the wicked man do?
What does the Lord think of this?
Do you ever obey (offer sacrifices to) God in some areas of your life (e.g., read your Bible, pray, go to Bible studies, singing in the church choir, evangelize, etc.) while you are living in unconfessed sin in another area?
If so, why?
What do you think God thinks of this kind of living?
What do you plan to do about it, and how soon?
Prov. 26:23-26 What does a hateful person sometimes do with his/her hate?
What is being laid/stored up in his/her heart?
Have you ever used your tongue/lips to hypocritically hide your heart which was filled with hatred, malice, deceit, etc.?
If so, why did you do so?
Have you dealt with your wrong attitudes?
If not, how can you (1 Jn. 1:9; Eph. 5:18; 1 Pet. 2:1)?
Isa. 1:4, 11-20; Amos 5:21, 23-24
What did God think of the people of Israel’s: sacrifices, offerings, incense, new moon and Sabbath festivals, and prayers?
What were the people trying to hide with their hypocritical, religious performance (Isa. 1:4)?
Do you ever try to hide sin in your life with a hypocritical performance of Christian duties (e.g., witnessing, prayer, Bible reading, etc.)?
What did God tell the people to do (Isa. 1:16)?
What else did God tell the people to do (Isa. 1:17)?
God promised a reward to the Jews if they obeyed (Isa. 1:19), but what did He promise them if they rebelled (Isa. 1:20)?
Did you know that, as a Christian, God will judge you for your sins and hypocrisy also (2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Cor. 3:14-15)?
How does knowing this affect you?
Does this motivate you to obey God and not live in sin and hypocrisy?
Isa. 29:13 With what do these people draw near to God?
What is far from God?
Are you close to God in word only, or is your heart also close to God?
Do you even spend time thinking about where your heart is and what it is focused upon (see Matt. 6:21; 22:37-38)?
Jer. 7:4, 8-10 In what were the people trusting?
What were they saying in the house of God (Jer. 7:10)?
What were they doing (Jer. 7:9)?
Do you think a born-again believer can be idolatrous (Col. 3:5)?
Have you ever trusted in hypocritical and deceptive words by declaring your salvation (and allegiance to/trust in God), yet all the while you were walking after other gods (e.g., materialism, hedonism, popularity, greed, computers, self, sports, money, etc.)?
If so, why did you do this?
Have you renounced the other gods yet?
Jer. 17:9-10 What is more deceitful than all else?
Do you think your heart (i.e., the nature you are born with) is deceitful enough to cause you to act hypocritically?
Since God knows your heart, doesn’t it seem foolish to try to hide your sin with hypocrisy?
Jer. 42:19-21 Who sent Jeremiah to the Lord?
Did they obey?
Have you ever acted hypocritically by asking a godly Christian’s advice to know God’s will, telling him you are willing to do everything God says, and when he showed you from the Bible God’s will, you rejected God’s word and have not done what His word says?
If you have done this, have you obeyed yet?
Ezek. 14:6-8 In where were the Jews not to set idols?
What were they then warned not to do?
Have you ever set an idol in your heart (like materialism, pleasure, sex, sports, money, music, computers, career, girl/boyfriend, etc.) and then come hypocritically to the Bible, prayer, or fellowship with other believers, expecting to get some blessing for yourself?
Do you think God tolerated this kind of hypocrisy during the time of Jeremiah (Ezek. 14:8)?
Do you think God will tolerate this hypocrisy in you (or any other Christian) today (Heb. 12:6)?
What did God tell the Israelites to do about their idolatry (Ezek. 14:6)?
Have you turned your face away from all idols and abominations, or are you a hypocrite by claiming the Creator of the Universe as your God, while actually making money, sports, possessions, music, cars, or computers your god?
Hos. 6:6 What does God delight in rather than sacrifice and burnt offerings?
Are you giving God hypocritical sacrifice (e.g., going to Bible studies, doing Christian service, praying, etc.) when you haven’t given Him your heart (loyalty to Him and seeking to know Him)?
Is your loyalty like the loyalty described in Hos. 6:4, or is it like Paul’s in Phil. 1:21?
Why is it like that?
Is your knowledge of God limited by giving Him a few sacrifices (a few hours a week to go to Bible study; mechanically serving Him), or is your attitude like Paul’s in Phil. 3:7-10 (i.e., experientially knowing Him through your sincere obedience to His commands and trust in His promises)?
Why is it like that?
Did you ever stop to think about the fact that God wants you, your true heart devotion, and not mere religious ritualism, just going through the motions mechanically?
Have you given Him yourself?
For what do the priests instruct (the law and decide controversies – Deut. 17:11; Mal. 2:7) for and the prophets divine(tell fortunes)?
Yet what do they do?
Do you know of any religious leaders who do the same today?
What was the result of these religious leaders’ hypocrisy?
What does God say will happen to the false teachers and hypocrites of this age (2 Pet. 2:12-13)?
Do you ever teach or say things you know people want to hear because you’ll benefit from it in some way (e.g., popularity, prestige, money, big audience, etc.)?
Zech. 7:6, 9-13 For whom did the people fast, eat and drink?
What did God tell the people to do instead of being selfish (Zech. 7:9-10)?
Have you ever hypocritically obeyed God and served others out of selfish reasons instead of out of true justice, kindness, and compassion?
When, and why?
What happened to the people’s hearts because of their hypocrisy (Zech. 7:12)?
Has your heart ever hardened and drawn cold toward God because you were living in hypocrisy (selfishly obeying God)?
If so, did you recognize what was going on?
What did God do when they called on Him?
Do you think one reason why people’s prayers don’t get answered is because of hypocrisy?
Has this ever happened to you? If so, did you change?
Do you ever sing Christian songs, teach the Bible, or evangelize the lost for self-centered reasons (e.g., to look good in the eyes of others, get a good feeling, or gain self-importance and respect from others)?
Matt. 6:1-2, 4-8, 16-18; 23:5
Why did these people practice righteousness: giving, praying, and fasting?
What kind of reward will the hypocrites have from God the Father (Matt. 6:1), and what kind of reward will they have from men(Matt. 6:2, 5, 16)?
What will the Father who is in secret, and who sees in secret, do for the person who does these deeds for right reasons (Matt. 6:4, 6, 18)?
What will happen to the treasures that are stored up here on this earth?
What will happen to the treasure stored up in heaven?
Are you looking for a treasure and full reward here on earth by hypocritically pleasing men, or are you storing up treasures in heaven by practicing your righteous deeds for God?
Do you see how motives can make an action either good or bad, sincere or hypocritical, of earthly value or heavenly value?
How will this affect your motivation?
Matt. 7:1-5 What is the hypocrite to do before he takes the speck out of his brother’s eye?
[The “log” represents a worse sin in society’s eyes.].
Do you ever hypocritically tell people to clean up their act, obey God, or change in any way, when you are in the same disobedience or worse?
If you saw someone in a sin and you had the same problem or worse, what should you do (Matt. 7:5)?
Does this verse, then, teach we should never judge others?
Why (see Matt. 7:5 and Jn. 7:24)?
Matt. 7:15, 21-23 How do the false prophets appear outwardly?
What will not happen to everyone who calls Jesus “Lord, Lord”?
Even though some people did many religious, and even supernatural things in Jesus’ name, why won’t they go to heaven (Matt. 7:23)?
Can you see now that many religious people who claim to know Jesus and even do the miraculous are really hypocrites because they really don’t know (personally, experientially by trusting in) the true Jesus Christ, God’s Son (as their Savior)?
Can you think of any examples of such hypocrites today?
Do you ever pretend to be innocent/pure and passive/easy-going when in actuality you are impure, guilty of dangerous inner sins (e.g., hate, envy, jealousy, vengefulness, bitterness, etc.)?
Matt. 15:7-9; Mk. 7:6-8 Why did Jesus call the Pharisees hypocrites?
As a result, how did God view their worship?
Has your worship toward God ever been vain/worthless because your heart was far away from Him?
Do you think it is possible to go to a Bible study/worship service, yet your heart/mind is thinking about cars, girls/guys, movies, money, clothes, sports, computers, food, etc. instead of on God?
Have you ever done this?
If so, what can you do to change?
Matt. 23:2-4 What did the Pharisees do?
Do you ever tell people what to do when you are not even doing the same things yourself (like evangelism, follow up, building up believers spiritually, reading your Bible, praying, being kind, forgiving, patient, faithful, etc.), and so are hypocritical?
Or, are you setting the pace for others to follow, like Paul (see 2 Tim. 3:10-11)?
What does Jesus call these Jewish scribes and Pharisees who gave people the impression that they (i.e., the scribes and Pharisees) were going to heaven, but really weren’t?
What do these religious, hypocritical leaders not allow people to enter?
Do you know of any religious people who say or give the impression that they are going to heaven, but actually aren’t?
If so, do they try to prevent other people from going to heaven by teaching a false gospel (e.g., Gal. 1:8-9)?
Matt. 23:14 What else did these Pharisees do?
What was a result of their hypocrisy?
What are some examples of similar things going on today by religious, hypocritical leaders (e.g., TV preachers, etc.)?
Do you ever try to impress people with your spirituality, while at the same time taking advantage of these same people?
If so, why?
Matt. 23:15 What did the hypocrites do in this verse?
Do you tell people to do things that you yourself are not doing and so are hypocritical?
Matt. 23:16-22 What did the Pharisees say about the person’s oath who swears by the temple and altar?
What if a person swore by the gold of the temple or by the offering upon the altar?
What did Jesus say?
What else did Jesus say about swearing in Matt. 5:33, 37?
Can you see the hypocritical game the Pharisees were playing with their words so that they could get out of keeping their oaths?
Do you ever play hypocritical word games with people by saying things in such a way that people will understand you to mean one thing, yet you mean something different in your own mind?
Why do you do this?
Matt. 23:23 What did the Pharisees do and neglect to do?
What are the weightier provisions of the law?
Are you performing outward Christian activities (witnessing, Bible reading, praying, etc.) while neglecting to conform your character (justice, loyalty, mercy, faithfulness, etc.) to Christ-likeness?
Do you measure your spirituality in terms of what you do or who you are?
[If you are the right way, then you will do the right thing. It is possible to do right and yet not be right.].
Matt. 23:25-28 How did Jesus describe the Pharisees in Matt. 23:25?
In Matt. 23:27?
Have you ever felt that you were playing the same game as the Pharisees (that of outwardly looking righteous, yet inwardly being unclean and hypocritical)?
If so, why?
Did you change?
When, and how?
What advice would you give to someone who was playing the hypocritical game, and they wanted help to change?
Matt. 23:29-32 What did the Pharisees say about themselves in Matt. 23:30?
What did Jesus say about the Pharisees?
What do you think Jesus meant by this?
Lk. 6:43-46 What can’t a good tree produce, and what can’t a bad tree?
To what was Jesus comparing the trees?
This led Jesus to ask what question?
Have you ever pretended to bear good fruit by saying all the right spiritual things and calling Jesus your Lord, when in reality you were not doing what God commands/wants (e.g., evangelizing the lost – Matt. 28:19, 20, building up and training Christians spiritually – 1 Thes. 5:11; Eph. 4:11-13, and living a holy life yourself – 1 Pet. 1:15)?
If so, why?
Lk. 12:1-2 What is the leaven of the Pharisees?
What will be revealed and known?
Did you ever stop and think about the fact that all hypocrisy and motives will be revealed?
Why do you think people still hide things with hypocrisy when one day they will be revealed by God and judged (1 Cor. 4:5)?
Do you ever hide or cover your sins with a false gloss of goodness (i.e., hypocrisy)?
Lk. 13:13-16 What did the synagogue officials say in response to Jesus’ healing the woman?
What did Jesus say to them in response?
Have you ever told someone else to quit (or start) doing something that you still do or haven’t started to do?
If so, why haven’t you quit, when you tell others to quit?
Do you tell people to stop smoking or drinking alcohol, when you haven’t stopped lusting or stopped being impatient?
Or, why haven’t you started, when you tell others to start?
Do you tell people to start reading their Bibles or praying regularly, when you’re not regularly evangelizing or building and training believers spiritually?
Lk. 16:14-15 Who were justifying themselves in the sight of men?
What does God know?
Do you ever try to justify in the sight of people a purchase you made, a place you went to, an activity you participate in, or a decision you made, while knowing that your motive really was self-centered?
Lk. 18:11-14 What did the Pharisee pray?
How was this Pharisee a hypocrite (Lk. 18:9)?
Do you ever have religious pride because you don’t do certain things that others do (e.g., having premarital sex, stealing, smoking, gambling, drinking alcohol, etc.)?
Or, do you have religious pride because you do things that others don’t do (e.g., go to church, read the Bible, pray, evangelize, teach a Bible study, etc.)?
What is true of the person that stumbles at one point of the law (James 2:10-11)?
What does that make you?
What did the tax-collector pray?
Who went home justified?
Which of the two men are you like, and why?
Rom. 2:1-3 Why do those who pass judgment condemn themselves?
What rightly falls upon those who practice such things?
Do you ever judge hypocritically other people for doing a wrong thing, and yet you do the same or worse?
Can you think of any examples of this kind of a situation?
1 Cor. 13:1-7
What did Paul say he would become like if he exercised the spiritual gift of speaking a language he had never learned, yet didn’t have love?
What did Paul say he would be if he had the gift of prophecy, and knew all mysteries and all knowledge, and had faith so as to remove a mountain, but did not have love?
What if he gave all his possessions to feed the poor, and delivered his body to be burned, but didn’t have love?
Do you ever do good things for a wrong motive rather than out of a sincere love for God and other people?
Isn’t it hypocritical to do something nice for someone, even for God, yet do it for selfish reasons?
What do you think God thinks of good deeds done out of wrong motives?
Why (1 Cor. 16:14)?
1 Tim. 4:2 What will happen to the conscience of those who fall away from the faith?
By means of what?
How do you think hypocrisy sears the conscience?
Do you ever become numb in your conscience in any area of your life because your conscience was seared because you were living hypocritically (i.e., pretending to be something you’re not)?
How can you keep from becoming like this (Eph. 5:18; 4:22-24)?
2 Tim. 3:5 What will people in the last days hold (2 Tim. 3:5)?
Who will proceed from bad to worse (2 Tim. 3:13)?
Do you know of any false teachers who fit this category?
Do you ever hold to a form of godliness (do outward, religious things), while really being an impostor/hypocrite because on the inside, you are evil, thinking bad thoughts/attitudes/motives?
If so, why?
Titus 1:16 These false teachers and impostors profess to know God, but do what by their deeds?
What are they?
Do you profess to know God, and yet deny Him by your actions/behaviors/conduct?
If so, why?
James 1:22 We should prove ourselves to be doers of the Word and not merely what?
How do you think a hearer is deluding himself?
[A religious person who hears what commands him/her to do, agrees that they should be done, but doesn’t do them, is a hypocrite.].
Have you ever deluded yourself?
If so, how did you find out?
How can a person keep himself from being deluded?