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This is such a frequent observation about Christians. Unfortunately, believers have done a lot of damage by professing one thing with their lips and practicing something else with their lives. I don’t try to justify their behavior because, quite frankly, it can’t be justified. I do, however, want to offer you three cautions.

First, the good news of the gospel is not oriented around Christians; it is oriented around Jesus Christ. Even if Christians were perfect, every person alive would still go to hell when they died. A holy God has to punish any and all sin—yours and mine included. That punishment is death. But if someone else is willing to take our punishment, we can be pardoned instead of punished. Only a perfect person could take our place because one sinner cannot pay for another sinner’s sin any more than one thief can pay for another thief’s crime. Jesus Christ, God’s perfect Son, became a man so that he could die in our place and take the punishment we deserved. God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He arose on the third day victorious over sin and the grave. Therefore, He and He alone can proclaim, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). To receive His free gift of eternal life, we have to trust Christ to save us—no one or nothing else. The Bible declares, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). A Christian’s good or poor behavior cannot save nor condemn you. Only Christ can make the difference.

Secondly, all Christians cannot be generalized as hypocrites, because so many actually reflect Christ. I could introduce you to some of the finest Christians I know, ones who have had a positive influence on many because of the way they live the life they profess. But Satan, the devil, who wants you to be separated from God forever, will often distract you with followers who are hypocrites instead of those who are not.

Lastly, some of those pinpointed as hypocrites may not even be believers in the first place. Many who refer to themselves as Christians don't understand what that means. The Bible would define a Christian as a person who has come to God as a sinner, recognized Christ died for him and rose again, and has placed his trust in Christ alone to save him. When a person is a genuine Christian, the Holy Spirit enters his life to help him live the life God wants him to live. That is why the Bible tells Christians to rely upon the Holy Spirit and its power to live a different life: "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). Don't misunderstand. Even true believers can be disobedient, but perhaps the reason many don't act like Christians is that they have never actually become Christians. Without the Holy Spirit, it is impossible to live the life to which God calls believers.

There are hypocrites everywhere—clubs, organizations, political parties, community groups, athletic teams, the work place, and societies of every kind. Yet those hypocrites don’t keep us from membership in those places, working on those jobs, or being a fan of that team. So why let any hypocrite keep you from appropriating God’s free gift of eternal life?

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