This article is an excerpt of John Bunyan's work, The Fear of God.
The hypocrite is one who appears to be something in men's eyes but who is in fact nothing in the sight of God.
You hypocrite, who would be esteemed by men to be one who loves and fears God, but who, in reality, does not! Remember the judgments of God that have, or shall certainly overtake, those professors like you who are downright hypocrites. The hypocrite, for his hypocrisy, shall partake of the judgments of God to his destruction. Judgments! Time will fail me here to tell you, explicitly, of the judgments that always certainly overtake the hypocrite for his transgressions. But in general, they are these:
- Blindness of heart in this world (Matthew 23:15-19)
- The death of their hope on the day of their death (Job 8:13; 11:20; 18:14; 20:4-7)
- The damnation of their souls on the day of judgment (Matthew 23:33; 24:51; Luke 20:47)
Hypocrite, your condition is damnable, because you are a hypocrite, and seek to deceive both God and man with guises, masks, shows, pretenses, and your formal, carnal, feigned subjection to outward statutes, laws, and commandments—but within you are full of rottenness and all excess!
Hypocrite, though you may by your cunning shifts be veiled and hidden from men, yet you remain naked before the eyes of God, and He knows that His fear is not in your heart (Luke 16:15).
Hypocrite, be admonished that there is no obedience that God accepts where the heart is destitute of the grace of godly fear. The keeping of God's commandments is but one part of the duty of man, and Paul did that, even while he was a hypocrite (Philippians 3:4-6). To "fear God and keep His commandments, this is the whole duty of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). The hypocrite, as a hypocrite, cannot fear God, and therefore, as such, cannot escape the damnation of hell.
Hypocrite, you must fear God first, even before you offer to meddle with His commandments. Indeed, you should read therein, that you may learn to fear the Lord; but yet, the word "Fear God" goes before the command to keep His commandments, and if you do not fear God first, then the only thing you do instead of keeping the commandments is transgress them!
Hypocrite, this word, "Fear God" is that which the hypocrite quite forgets, although it is that which sanctifies the whole duty of man; for this—and nothing without it—is what can make a man sincere in his obedience. The hypocrite, on the other hand, looks for applause abroad, and forgets that he is condemned at home, and both these he does because he lacks the fear of God.
Hypocrite, be admonished that none of the privileges that accompany godly fear1 belongs to you, because you are a hypocrite. If you hope, your hope shall certainly be cut off, and if you lean upon your house, both you and it shall fall into hell-fire. Triumph then—your triumph is but for awhile! Joy then, but the joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment (Job 8:13-15; 20:4-6)! Perhaps you will not forsake these false hopes, triumphs, and joys which you embrace now, as a hypocrite; but "what is the hope of the hypocrite…when God takes away his soul" (Job 27:8)?
Hypocrite, you should have chosen the fear of God, but you have instead chosen a profession of faith without it, because you are a hypocrite. The same measure shall be measured back to you; God will cast you off, just as you have cast off His fear. God has prepared a fear for you because you did not choose the fear of God, and that fear shall come upon you like desolation, and like an armed man, and it shall swallow you up—you and all that you are (Proverbs 1:27).
Hypocrite, read Isaiah 33:14 and tremble: "The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness has seized the hypocrites: 'Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?'"
Hypocrite, you are not under the fatherly protection of God, because you are a hypocrite, who lacks His fear in your heart. The eyes of the Lord are upon those who fear Him, to deliver them (Psalm 33:18-19), but the fearless man or hypocrite is left to the snares and schemes of the devil, to be caught therein and overcome, because he is destitute of the fear of God.
Hypocrite, you will have no other reward from God for your labor than that which the goats shall have—everlasting fire (Matthew 25:32-33, 41)! The hypocrite, because he is a hypocrite, shall not stand in God's sight. The gain of your religion is immediately spent as you get it (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16); there will be nothing remaining for you at death and judgment!
Hypocrite, God has not entrusted you with the least bit of His saving grace, nor will He, because you are a hypocrite. As for what you do have—a profession of religion and all the benefits that accompany it—you have stolen from your neighbor; still pilfering out of their profession, even as Judas did out of the bag. You come like a thief into your profession of faith, and like a thief you shall go out of it. Jesus Christ has not counted you faithful to commit to you any of His jewels to keep, because you do not fear Him. He has given His "banner to those who fear Him, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Psalm 60:4).
Hypocrite, you are neither true to God nor man, nor to your own soul, because you are a hypocrite! How should the Lord put any trust in you? Why should the saints look for any good from you? If God were to give you His Word, you would sell it. If men committed their souls to you, you would destroy them, by making merchandise of them, for your own hypocritical designs. Yes! If the sun waxes hot, you will throw all away, and not endure the heat, because you are a hypocrite (Matthew 13:6)!
- ^These privileges of godly fear are delineated in John Bunyan's book The Fear of God.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.