I’m very glad that chapter 2 of the book of 1 John begins with an affirmation that the righteous sacrifice of Jesus Christ covers all sin. Because John is about to discuss the most common sin around.
Hypocrisy. Saying one thing, and doing its opposite.
Find me someone guiltless of hypocrisy, and I guarantee you they’re on the pages of a comic book. No such person. Certainly not me. In my best moments, my heart is an alloy of moral black, white, and grey.
But there’s a certain kind of hypocrite that is not merely imperfect. This is the kind that deliberately puts on a mask of deception – a false front of words – while their heart is far afield. That brand of self-deceived deceiver is what the apostle is going after here.
Affirming God-things on the outside, while treasuring sin and self on the inside. A walking contradiction. A living lie.
“The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (v. 4)
“The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” (v. 6) (the hypocrite only engages in enough outward actions to keep up appearances).
“The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.” (v. 9)
By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments (v. 2). Doing, from the heart, not merely saying. Not obeying perfectly, but sincerely. Not unalloyed, but with the power of God stirring within. Not externally, to impress the eyes of men, but from the heart, to please God.
You want to see a miracle? A heart growing in humility and sincerity, a heart of love for God – that’s a miracle. Not 100% holy behavior, but growing liberation from our native hypocrisy.
All hypocrites need the gracious forgiveness of Christ. The stumbling and far-from-perfect child of God needs cleansing each day, and that blood of cleansing is offered freely. But it is offered freely to the entire world – even the most awful hypocrites can be humbled, can turn from their pride, and can be made clean in Christ – so that they, too, become doers of the word, and not mere poseurs. Such is the power and love of God – turning hypocrites into disciples.