Bible Reading: 1 John 3:6-10
Whereas the Apostle John teaches us that one of the distinguishing marks of a hypocrite is their ability to sin without constraint or contrition, it is the Apostle Peter who best explains how hypocrites, unlike true Christians, can practice sin unimpeded.
According to Peter, it is the Christian’s partaking of the “divine nature” that constrains him to practice righteousness (2 Peter 1:4). Since the “divine nature,” God’s “seed”―Jesus Christ―lives in the Christian in the person of the Holy Spirit, the Christian is enabled to “escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.” In other words, sin loses its luster to the Spirit indwelt Christian who not only has to fight his way through the Spirit’s constraint every time he sins, but also contend with the Spirit’s conviction after every sin he commits. Such spiritual struggle will lead the true Christian to choose Christ over “the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25), since sin’s pleasures are so short-lived and the struggle with the Spirit over any committed and unconfessed sin is both incessant and inescapable.
Unlike the Christian, the non-Christian, who is void of the “divine nature” and the possessor of a fallen nature, finds himself constrained to practice sin rather than righteousness. His fallen nature not only gives him a natural inclination to sin, but also allows him to be content within a sinful lifestyle. Although he can occasionally go against his natural inclination to sin and perform a righteous act, he cannot continue to practice righteousness. He will always end up returning to his sinful practices, since it is his natural propensity to do so.
“Dogs,” according to the Apostle Peter, always return to their “own vomit” and “washed”pigs to their “wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:22). Why do dogs and pigs do such disgusting things? It is because they are dogs and pigs. It is their nature to do such things.
Likewise, Christians and hypocrites can be distinguished by what they are naturally inclined to do. A Christian, because of his new divine nature, is incapable of practicing sin. Whereas he may commit sin, he cannot continue in sin. His new nature won’t allow it. On the other hand, a non-Christian, because of his old sinful nature, is incapable of practicing righteousness. Whereas he may occasionally perform a good deed, he will always return to his disgusting sinful practices. He does so simply because he is a sinner rather than a saint and has a sinful nature rather than a divine nature.
Regardless of your Christian profession, if your life is characterized by the practice of sin rather than righteousness, you’re a hypocrite, since no partaker of the divine nature can be content to continue doing what is disgusting to God.