Focal Passages: Hos. 8:1-3, 7-10; 9:7-8; 10:10-12
Sadly there are many people who attend our churches that claim to be Christians, but whose lives prove otherwise. According to author David Kinnaman, one of the primary perceptions of Christians among outsiders is that we are hypocrites. They say Christians pretend to be something unreal, conveying a polished image that is not accurate.
Recall the words of Jesus in Luke 6:44: you will know a tree by its fruit. Based on Hosea’s extensive list of Israel’s idolatry, politics, and false worship in chapter 8, one would conclude that Israel did not know and love their God. But interestingly enough, despite the fruit of their lives, Israel still claimed to be the people of God with their lips. However, because of the hypocrisy their sacrifices to God were made in vain.
Hosea is clear in chapters 9-10 that God will punish the unrepentant. Because of Israel’s rash ingratitude they will be as a root dried up and bear no fruit. But even in judgment God’s salvation is extended to those who repentantly seek Him.
This is the heart of the Good News. There is one who succeeds in righteousness where Israel and we fail. His name is Jesus. Unlike us, and unlike Israel, Jesus was truly righteous and His sacrifice for sin was accepted before God.
Without Christ we are all like the root dried up, bearing no fruit. But Jesus is the true vine, and those who abide in Him bear much fruit. Bearing fruit requires pruning, accepting discipline from the Lord as grace. A hypocrite is a “Christian” who sins and doesn’t admit it. A Christian is a saint who still sins, repents, and continually clings to Christ’s perfect righteousness. This is gospel discipline.