Matthew 23:27-28 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (NKJV)
I love to read the prayers and writing of the Puritans. Their devotion to a simple lifestyle and disciplined spiritual exercises allowed them a grasp on Godliness that is difficult to obtain in today’s distracting world. Recently, one thought really caught my attention. It went something like this:
“Lord, help me to not be a hypocrite, especially not an evangelical hypocrite; one who loves church and worship and religion but lives an unholy life”.
That really made me stop and think. Can someone LOVE church and overlook sin? Can you enjoy worship and find pleasure in the world? Can we be faithful in service and fake holiness? Doesn’t loving church and worship naturally mean that we hate sin? Can we love Christianity and accept an unholy standard of living? The all too ugly and real answer is that we all do this very thing to a degree. It’s always easy to believe others are capable, but what about me? To what degree is this true about us individually?
Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? (NKJV)
That verse is more convicting when you think about this Puritan idea of evangelical hypocrisy. None of us wants to believe we love the Lord and love sin. But our heart deceives us. We can’t begin to rid ourselves of the evangelical hypocrisy in our lives until we first become spiritually honest enough to admit it exists. And it does exist, make no mistake. It’s just a matter of varying degrees.
Our flesh is constantly trying to convince us that we’re really not all that sinful. Our sin nature deceitfully plays up our spiritual qualities, exaggerating them into more than they are. And we are so ready to believe our own favorable opinions! Simultaneously, our minds engage in a continual game of “revisionist history” concerning our sin. Each time we recall it, it’s not quite as bad as before.
Matthew 15:7-9 Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ” (NKJV)
Understanding the deceitfulness of the heart is the first step in ridding our lives of hypocrisy through the art of appearing to love God while living an unholy life.
Spiritual maturity is directly proportionate to your
understanding of 1) God’s holiness, and 2) sin’s awfulness.
If you have come to admit the “evangelical hypocrisy” in your life, and wonder where to go from here, start with these two things: God’s holiness and sin’s awfulness. They make up the fundamental aspects of the Christian life. God is calling you to holiness. Your flesh is calling you to the bondage of sin. The more you study, meditate, contemplate and learn about them both, the more you will realize that you can’t tolerate both.
Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.” (NKJV)
The more you understand sin, the more you will come to know that you can’t dabble in it. You will realize that worldliness is utterly incompatible with a holy life. The more you understand the greatness and purity of God, the greater your understanding of how completely unacceptable it is to excuse sin in your life. Again, your spiritual maturity is directly proportionate to your understanding of sin, and God’s holiness. If you struggle with a mediocre relationship with God, perhaps your understanding is weak in these two areas. Something to think about.
Holy God, we ask in faith, not doubting for wisdom and understanding about sin. Instill in us a greater comprehension of Your holiness so that we will hate sin more and more each day. In Jesus name, Amen.
Contemplation: Do you enjoy “Christian things” but find that you enjoy sinful pleasure equally as much? Are you just as comfortable at an inappropriate movie or smoke-filled bar as you are in a church pew? Are you as comfortable gossiping as you are worshipping?
Application: God’s people perish from a lack of knowledge. If you tolerate or brush off sinfulness, you don’t understand it well enough. If God’s holiness produces no reaction in you, you need to meditate on it more frequently.
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?