This exhortation is directed to the young people in our midst, to those who have grown up in the covenant. Here is the charge. Our unbelieving culture around us likes to pretend that hypocrisy, particularly religious hypocrisy, is the special province of elderly and crotchety Christians.
But as one who has spent my entire life in the church, I know that this is almost the reverse of the truth. Hypocrisy is extremely common among the young. Whenever the number of young people gets to a certain size, whether in Christian schools, or youth groups, or in churches, those who do not want to walk with God carve out a disobedient niche for themselves, and they create as much pressure as they can on the others to make them feel guilty for “snitching.”
This hypocrisy—for that is what it is—is almost always justified on the basis of individualism. In other words, the rebellious young people claim that this religion is being forced on them, they did not choose it for themselves, and that, had they been given the option of choosing, they would not have done so. And so they reject the notion that they are hypocrites, and, to the extent that they are, it was forced upon them.
And so they live their double lives. Cheating on Bible exams, of all things, pirating music, trying to be cool, shoplifting, being disrespectful of their parents, pursuing sexual folly, and all the rest of it. But if any of you are living this kind of double life, then remember that your baptism always means what Christ says it means, and not what a hypocritical rationalization would like it to mean.
You are not forced into hypocrisy because you are under authority. Everyone is under authority, and God prohibits insincerity for all of us.