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An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered. Proverbs 11:9

Hypocrite comes from the two Greek words meaning “to answer back.” The hypocrite is one who answers back, and the word was used for actors in Greek plays. When one actor would give the cue to the other actor, he knew it was time for him to say his little piece. It was play-acting. To say a man is a hypocrite in religious matters means that he is a phony. He is the man who will say “Hallelujah, praise the Lord” insincerely. He is just playing a part; he is not praising the Lord in his heart.

“An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour.” He will pretend to be your friend, but he will knife you when your back is turned in an attempt to cover up the sin in his own life. Whom do you think of in the Bible in this connection? Wouldn’t it be Potiphar’s wife and the way she maligned Joseph? She brought false charges against Joseph to cover up her own sin. She was the guilty party, but she covered it over by accusing Joseph. Who would believe the story of a slave against the story of the wife of an official of Pharaoh? There was no need for Joseph to even open his mouth, because he didn’t have a chance to defend himself.

Unfortunately, sometimes in the church we find a hypocrite who will say terrible things in order to protect himself. I have always been afraid of the man who is nice to his preacher to his face but who criticizes him behind his back. I have always felt that I needed to watch out for that kind of man. He is covering up something in his own life. Time has demonstrated to me that this was often a correct estimation of the situation. This proverb is referring to this kind of hypocrisy.



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