“speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Timothy 4:2).
Having already established demonic activity as a source of false teaching in 1 Timothy 4:1, the following verse reveals the method in which those teachings are delivered: “Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron” (NIV).
In the New Testament era, the idea of “one who wears a mask’ was synonymous with the concept of hypocrisy. This term originated in the ancient Greek theatre to describe actors who used facial masks to portray different emotions. Over time, the word “hypocrite” became a derogative term that described anyone who wasn’t what he or she claimed to be.
Unlike some modern-day definitions of hypocrisy, this tell us that a hypocrite is not someone who makes a mistake or struggles to live a sincere, God-honoring life. Instead, a hypocrite is a “mask-wearer” or someone who knowingly and intentionally differs from what he or she appears to be.
It’s interesting to note that Jesus issued some of His strongest criticisms to the spiritual hypocrites of His day…
“Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of the bones of the dead and of everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28 NET).
“Be careful not to do your good works in public in order to attract attention. If you do, your Father in heaven will not reward you. So when you give to the poor, don’t announce it with trumpet fanfare. This is what hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets in order to be praised by people. I can guarantee this truth: That will be their only reward. When you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Give your contributions privately. Your Father sees what you do in private. He will reward you” (Matthew 6:1-4 GW).
One source makes a provocative observation regarding hypocrisy that we would do well to consider…
“It comes as a shock to some people that Satan uses professed Christians in the church to accomplish his work. But Satan once used Peter to try to lead Jesus on a wrong path (Matt. 16:21-23), and he used Ananias and Sapphira to try to deceive the church at Jerusalem (Acts 5). Paul warned that false teachers would arise from within the church (Acts 20:30).” (1)
(1) Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, 2:224, quoted in Constable, Thomas. DD Notes on 1 Timothy 2020 Edition [4:1-3] https://www.planobiblechapel.org/tcon/notes/html/nt/1timothy/1timothy.htm