True Faith vs. Performance Faith



This is a familiar word, but I am afraid that many people do not understand its meaning.

In asking my youth group what “hypocrite” means, they agreed upon the following definition: “one who says one thing and does the opposite.” This, I believe, is the common understanding of a hypocrite. Many apply this to a church. “Those Christians are a bunch of hypocrites. They say they believe in a loving God, but they are so mean.”

pan-diario-abril-23-2010The problem here is that definition is inaccurate. A true hypocrite is one who behaves contrary to who they really are. The picture is one of a play-actor. When I was in high school, I performed in many musicals and plays. In those shows, I was given a character name, lines, blocking, and a costume. I had to learn my lines and make them believable to the audience when the curtain went up each night of the performance. But I am not who I am performing like. I am Greg Peterson, not Captain Von Trapp. But for the 2-hours of that performance in front of hundreds of people, Greg Peterson did not exist…at least to me.

Now it would be ridiculous for me to walk off stage and continue to say I am Captain Von Trapp, wear those clothes, and keep the Austrian accent. I would be a sham and it wouldn’t take long for people to call my bluff. But many, many people do this every day. They are one way in private and another way in public. They have a secret life and a performance life. These are the hypocrites.

Tonight, I will finish up teaching verse-by-verse through Jesus’ Sermon of the Mount (Matt 5-7) to my youth group. The overall point of the Sermon on the Mount (SM) is not on “how-to” get into the kingdom of Heaven. It is the greatest sermon by the greatest preacher on the regular-everyday life of a true Christian. Basically, Jesus is identifying kingdom people; those who are true Christians. And this overall message can be boiled down into one question:

Do you have true faith or performance faith?

This is a very important question and one we must ask ourselves regularly (2 Cor 13:5).

Do you have true faith or performance faith?Hypocrite

In ch 5, Jesus shows that true kingdom people have a righteousness that is more than skin deep, as opposed to the Pharisees (Matt 5:20). In ch. 6, Jesus says a true kingdom person is someone who desires to not show any religious deeds in front of people, but rather treasures secret holiness, all the while trusting God to provide for every need. In ch. 7:1-12, Jesus shows that kingdom people are humbly discerning and that all the deeds required of a true Christians are impossible to do without the aid of God. Therefore they characteristically ask, seek, and knock for God to make them pleasing in His sight.

This brings us to the final portion where Jesus shows clearly who are his and who are phonies.

True Christians   Performance “Christians”
Walk the unpopular life Matt 7:13-14 Walk the popular life
Pay close attention to who they allow to be their teachers Matt 7:15-20 Lack discernment of good and evil teachers/teaching
Confess Jesus as Lord resulting in regular-daily obedience Matt 7:21-23 Confess Jesus as Lord, but has no regard for God’s commands and desires only extraordinary, showy spiritual experiences
Hears Jesus’ words and builds their life upon them in obedience Matt 7:24-27 Hears Jesus’ words, but builds their life upon their own desires.
Amazed with Jesus and follows Matt 7:28-29 Amazed at Jesus skill and knowledge with no regard for personal application

I hope this chart make clear Jesus’ point. D. A. Carson sums it up well: “Entrance into the kingdom, then, does turn on obedience after all–not the obedience which earns merit points, but which bows to Jesus’ lordship in everything and without reservation. Such obedience necessarily blends with genuine repentance, making the two almost one. Within this framework, the issue of obedience is everything.” (D. A. Carson, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1987], 140)


  • acha648

    how does this apply to Gender?
    in her book Carolyn Mcculley claims to be complementarian, yet nothing in her advice for women is about them supporting their husband, in fact in one of her examples she uses a woman who asks her boyfriend whether he will cook and look after the kids so she can work and pursue her career?

    what about my friends, who claim to be Christians yet prior to marriage has decided the man will be the homemaker and the woman the provider…
    most people accept these as christians
    I see them as hypocrites
    just like I am a hypocrite, for lying ,lust etc

    yet most complementarians love Carolyn Mcculley, love societies like Propel woman ( created to help women advance their careers)
    it seems like we can just adapt to culture and pretend certain commands do not exist and men still can be considered Obedient Christians…

    • Greg

      acha648 — I am not sure how what I wrote relates to your question. But to answer your first question “how does this apply to gender?”: men and women are to do the God-given roles they are given. Both are to first pursue Jesus Christ as their highest treasure. As for gender specifics: Women are given no halt in Scripture to pursue a career until they are married. Once married, their godly priority becomes the home and hubby. If she can maintain home and hubby as priority, then working outside the home as an addition is fine (Prov 31:16). For most women, working outside the home will become a distraction and the home and hubby will suffer. Wisdom says for the married woman to be godly at home.

      As for the man: his God-given priorities are to work, love his wife (when he gets one), and be a man of God.

      I have never read Carolyn McCulley, so I cannot speak to your complaint of her.

      Finally, being a liar or lusting does not make you a hypocrite. You are a sinner who is in need to God’s daily, moment-by-moment grace. When you sin, you are being exactly who you are by nature. It is expected. Now, if you lived your life as if you were not a sinner nor affected by sin, then you would be a hypocrite.

      Thanks for the question. Blessings, -GP

      • acha648

        or maybe I completely wrong, if so please correct me
        I do however see an urge now to try and get women to eliminate their guilt for prioritising their career over their husband or home…