So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just…
Acts 3:12-14 NKJV
Was Peter guilty of hypocrisy when he called out the Israelites for denying Christ? After all, Peter denied Jesus three times while his Lord was being tried and murdered. How could he stand there and so boldly hold others accountable for a sin he had also committed? Peter was not a hypocrite. He was a man cleansed and redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb. Peter walked in the Light, and in that Light he was able to show others the way out. He was a man who had experienced redemption.
What is hypocrisy?
Hypocrisy is expecting – no, demanding – of others what you will not do yourself. If I demand that others obey when I do not, I’m a hypocrite. If I demand that others submit to authority when I am in rebellion, then I’m a hypocrite. If I demand that others change when I never have, I’m a hypocrite. It isn’t difficult to be a hypocrite; it’s difficult NOT to be one.
I have been incredibly rebellious. And not just rebellious, but a true reviler of authority. Yet twice the Spirit has asked me to confront people on the issue of rebellion and authority. And the first time, I really struggled with it. “Wouldn’t it be better to find someone who hadn’t committed that same evil? How can I possibly have a leg to stand on here?!” This ended up being a pretty deep dealing in my life, and I won’t go into all the twists and turns, but there are two big truths that came out of it.
The first came from Martha. She told me that each stronghold God delivered me from would become a place of spiritual authority in my life. In that place of weakness and failure and evil, the Resurrection Life of Jesus Christ in me would have authority OVER that evil. The second truth confirmed the first: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death” (Rev. 12:11). I am redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb! The Life of Christ indwells me through the redemption of His Blood shed on the Cross. I am no longer tied to that sin – I am FREED from its power, and in Jesus, I now have authority over it.
Redemption, not Hypocrisy
Hypocrisy calls others to account while refusing any personal accountability or taking any personal responsibility. Redemption calls others to account with the same LOVE and LIGHT that holds us accountable! I can call someone to account for being in rebellion because I was held accountable for that same rebellion and FREED from its curse. I know what freedom from the sin of rebellion tastes like. I know the incredible safety and provision found under authority. Would I deny such bliss to someone else? No, I would not.
Hypocrisy operates out of narcissism and superiority – “Well, I never!” Redemption moves out of humility – “I once was lost but now am found…”
We can only read Peter’s words, but I can hear the Spirit in them. His voice vibrates with the zeal and fire of the Spirit, tempered only by the compassion of our High Priest Himself where lost and broken humanity is concerned. Peter speaks with the boldly unashamed voice of a man redeemed by the Blood and FREED from the power of sin. May we all be so bold, so unashamed, so willing to obey the Spirit’s lead to shine the Light and speak the Truth and show the Way!