Hypocrisy is when one claims to hold a belief that they do not really possess. The term hypocrite was used in Old French as a play-actor; someone pretending to be something that they were not. Hypocrisy has its roots in Greek and was someone who wore a mask; someone pretending to be someone that they were not or someone that had "two faces" concerning a belief.
Many non-Christians see the hypocrites in the church and they are rightly disgusted. Hypocrites make up a number of the members of the church; but these people are not genuine professors of religion, merely frauds playing the role of the Christian. The hypocrites are what the Bible calls tares and Jesus is quite content with allowing the tares to be in the Church. These hypocrites have always been a part of genuine religion, and they will remain a part of genuine religion until the day of judgment when the wheat is separated from the tares. Jesus speaks of this in the Gospel according to Saint Matthew:
Another parable put he [Jesus] forth unto them [his disciples], saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
What does this all mean for you and for me? How does this apply to our lives?
-If you are a genuine Christian, someone who has professed faith in Christ's atoning sacrifice for sins and are being renewed by the power of the Holy Ghost, then you should strive to be more and more conformed to the image of Christ. We should never allow the unbeliever to blaspheme Christ and his bride on account of our carelessness in sanctification.
-If you are not a Christian, then it is my Christian duty to warn you that your fate is the same fate of those tares. Hypocrisy and unbelief will be eternal bed-fellows in the fires of hell. Hypocrite: flee to Christ for redemption. Unbeliever: flee to Christ for redemption.
"Tell me, you vain professor [of Christianity], when did you shed a tear for the deadness, hardness, unbelief, or earthliness of your heart? Do you think that such an easy religion can save you? If so, we may invert Christ's words and say, 'Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to life.'" -JOHN FLAVEL
"Knowledge without repentance will be but a torch to light men to hell."