Read Romans 14
Most Christians have not yet discovered who they are in Christ. They elevate their desires, goals, and aspirations over anyone else's, even the Lord's. These immature Christians will not allow themselves to be convicted or grow in the faith. They eat (depend) of their works and not of their faith. Thus, they rationalize and theologize their way through life, making all kinds of excuses for demanding their own Will and way.
Many Reformed people believe that the reason Arminianism developed, and has been so adhered to over the centuries, was that it gives false comfort in choices and Will. It leads one to believe that we make the decisions in what matters in life and God merely provides us with options and choices. In a way that may be true, but Arminianism places the focus on the responsibility of man, not the purpose of God. The Bible clearly teaches, as in Reformed thinking, that the focus is on God's sovereignty, glory, and purpose. We cannot choose our own Will and claim it as His!
Therefore, because all these various visions for our life and Will are volleying for power, the focus tends to not be God's Will in most churches or Christian's lives. Thus, when you do take a stand, even though it is Biblical and true, Christians will persecute you more than heathens will! Look at church history for this evidence. Because Christians fear change and conviction more than anything else, they do not want to see their hypocrisy. Jesus said for us to remove the plank from our own eye first. They do not want to remove it, because that plank is their source of comfort and rationale for all they do.
Remember, it takes a diamond to cut another diamond, so allow other Christians to hone and challenge you, but never let anyone sway you from what is clearly revealed in Scripture! Count your afflictions as joy and service to Him, as long as you are true to Christ and His Word.
The Roman Christians had a tough time adjusting to the New Life in Christ, as they wrestled with Jewish law and tradition over the alien concepts of freedom and Grace. They were not willing to act by faith and trust in Christ, just as most Christians today are not! It takes time to be discipled, and to adjust to our new Life. Faith is given to us overnight, but we still have to receive, process, and act on it. We tend to create our own bureaucratic obstacles, and then blame God and others. Paul is calling us to be patient and to understand each other. When we do, life goes much more smoothly, and things are not taken so personally.
· Being, and living, as an honest Christian should just be a natural endeavor. We have been filled with the Holy Spirit. We know the Scriptures. Therefore, there should be no problems with honest living, yet there is!
· Hypocritical conduct comes from our fallen nature, as demonstrated by our history, actions, interpersonal relationships, divorce court, and testimonies by behavioral scientists. Christians do not seem to be immune from this infection.
· Hypocritical conduct causes us to behave in one way, while desiring or even believing we are acting in a total different way. It may be intentional or it may be just a slip of the tongue. However, it is all the same to the hearer of the words--damaging, destructive, awful, addictive, and most of all, devoid of Christian love.
· Our behavior causes a contradictory witness. We may desire to earnestly live a life of Christian maturity, but, instead, we drive people away from the Lord! We end up doing the opposite of Christian Living!
· The opposite of godlessness is godliness. This is the act of honoring God with our best. Godliness enables us to live out our faith in obedience, with love and trust in Christ.
· The reason the Pharisees were so despised throughout church history is due to the charge that Christ made. Jesus charged the Pharisees directly with godlessness. This charge was the worst thing a Hebrew person could receive. This is also the reason that the Pharisees wanted so desperately to kill Christ.
· Jesus saw that the emperor wore no clothes! Sometimes, someone may call us a hypocrite, causing us to get angry, even though the charge may be true.
· Why do Christians display contradictory actions? Psychologists call it cognitive dissonance. This is when a person harbors two completely different views. While acting on one behavior, they believe they are doing something quite different. This can be caused by a stressful situation, by being uncomfortable, or by being unable to modify our beliefs to fit our situation. So, we develop rationalizations, believing we must be right in our actions because our beliefs are right, regardless of our actions.
· The early church struggled with this and called it Gnosticism.
· Do we try to keep our image intact only to Christians around us, letting our true nature slip with people at work, or when we go shopping? The problem is that most people, especially non-Christians, will see right through our hypocrisy, even though we may not see or admit it!
· Most Christians just flat out do not want to change their behavior, regardless of what anyone thinks, or what Scripture teaches.
· The hypocrisy that most people display happens in the workplace. For example, suppose someone acts unkindly towards a co-worker by spreading rumors or being abrupt to his/her fellow employees. When people later find out that that person is active in a church only compounds the issue and places a negative focus on Christianity!
· The Pharisees were experts on seeing hypocrisy in others, but they failed to see it in themselves. They could look down the corridor of time and see all the errors and mistakes their ancestors made in the past, but look at themselves as more accomplished, and incapable of doing the ungodly acts of those in years past.
· However, the Pharisees could not see the damage, hurt, and oppression that they were causing. They were causing the very same problems for which they were criticizing their ancestors. They were actually leading people away from God! They were performing the very opposite of their job description, the very opposite of their call from the Lord (Matthew 23:23-33)
· When you ask someone, "Would you like to be a Christian?" you are in fact saying, "Would you like to be like me?" Keep in mind they do not know Jesus yet, they only know Him through you and other Christians! Therefore, we must be careful in our daily actions, words, and deeds and how we tell someone about the Lord. Remember, in Matthew 23, Jesus is warning us about misleading people.
· Do not ever believe that our performances are realities. People will see right through us. We have bad days. We make mistakes. After all, we are human, and we cannot be perfect all the time. Our culture does not want us to be perfect, just genuine.
· Pride is the destroyer of humbleness. Pride is the fruit of hypocrisy (or, should I say, the rotten vegetable?), and humbleness is the destroyer of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy cannot exist in an environment filled with humility. This is because in our humility, we are glued to our Lord and not to ourselves. Godliness cannot exist in an atmosphere of pride!
· Pride is perhaps the first sin that entered God's universe. It is also perhaps the last sin that can be conquered. This sin is so enticing it corrupts our innermost being. It gives us the illusion to think overly highly of ourselves, that we are more important than what we really are. As a result, self-esteem and self-love become the priority for our lives rather than the Lord!
· Pride causes inordinate amounts of mistreatment, rudeness, and hurt.
· Pride is the sin that made Satan stumble and fall from Grace, resulting in one-third of the heavenly host falling into the self-destruction of pride and arrogance that then turned them into demons, the devil, and hell.
· Pride is what motivated Hitler to kill the Jews, and causes the ethnic cleansing that goes on today in so many countries.
· Pride is the over zealousness of our self-love, where we place ourselves as the center of the universe and not Christ.
Questions to Ponder
1. How do you think the Lord feels when we misrepresent Him in the world?
2. Is there a difference in pride and hypocrisy? How are they alike? How do they fuel each other?
3. Read Matthew 23:23-33; How would you define hypocrisy?
4. Living as an honest Christian should be a natural endeavor. So, why does this sometimes fail to happen?
5. Why would Christians elevate their desires, goals, and aspirations over anyone else's, even the Lord's?
6. Are we doing life and church as Christ would, or are we mirroring our feelings and desires, regardless of our mandate from our Lord?
7. Do you believe that hypocrisy is a destroyer of the church?
8. Do you believe that as Christians, we have the responsibility to act as disciples of Christ wherever we are and whatever we do?
9. Are you putting on a performance or are you genuinely focused on the Lordship of Christ so that He flows to those around you?
10. How can you let other Christians hone and challenge you without causing you to be discouraged?