By Pastor Glem Melo
It is clear in the New Testament that there are hypocrites in the church. The apostle Paul warned the elders of the church in Ephesus that
“from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” (Acts 20:30, emphasis mine).
We also have the words of the apostle John:
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us” (1 John 2:19, emphasis mine).
Therefore, we confess that there are “hypocrites, who are mixed in the church along with the good and yet are not part of the church, although they are outwardly in it” (Belgic Confession, Article 29, emphasis mine) and that office-bearers are to “see to it… that evil men are disciplined in a spiritual way and are restrained (Article 30).”
And so, we hold that:
- There are hypocrites in the church.
- Hypocrites in the church are covenant members; but they are covenant breakers.
- Hypocrites have to be disciplined “in a spiritual way.” If persistently unrepentant, they have to be excommunicated from the church, following the Lord’s order.
Turning to the Old Testament, we see that God did not tell the Israelites in Sinai, “I am the LORD. Make me your God.” Instead, He said, “I am the LORD your God…” (Exodus 20:2, emphasis mine). That clearly teaches that the Israelites in the Old Testament were professing believers.
But not all professions of faith are true. In both the Old and the New Testament, there are false or hypocritical professions of faith.
This drives us on our knees before the Lord. Continually, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ who died for sins, let us pray,
“God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13)
“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” (Psalm 51:2)
This also highlights both the necessity and urgency of our mission to train pastors and office-bearers whom the Lord can use to “preserve the true religion… see to it that the true doctrine takes its course, that evil men are disciplined in a spiritual way and are restrained” (Belgic Confession, Article 30). By faith, let us overcome all adversities. By grace, let us continue to advance the cause of Christ in the Philippines.