Showing posts with label SPIRITUAL GROWTH. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SPIRITUAL GROWTH. Show all posts

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Beware of Hypocrisy

Moment of hypocrisy

Has anyone on earth not had at least a moment of hypocrisy? Sadly, many have lived a lifetime of it. Hypocrite originally had a neutral sense, “someone who answers,” and hypocrisy meant “answering.” Initially, these words were used for the normal flow of questions and answer in conversation or discussion. They later became connected with question-and-answer sections in plays, naturally followed by the idea of acting a part. Eventually, “hypocrite” came to describe one who is never genuine but always play-acting. The basis of hypocrisy is insincerity.

Hypocrites inhabit every walk of life, trying to impress others in an attempt to hide who they really are. In the Christian life, a hypocrite is someone who tries to appear more spiritual than he really is. Such a person knows that he is pretending, and he hopes he will not be found out. His Christianity is a shallow charade.

As the crowds following Him grew, Jesus decided to warn His disciples of this spiritual pitfall. They could easily surrender to human nature, giving in to the temptation either to gain popularity by pleasing the crowds or to avoid trouble by pleasing the Pharisees. Human nature drives us to want people to like and admire us, and it seems so easy to “act the part” that others want to see.


1. What causes hypocrisy? Luke 12:4-7

Jesus mentions “fear” five times in these verses, teaching that a basic cause of hypocrisy is the fear of men. People will do almost anything to avoid embarrassment or harm. When we are afraid of what others may say or do to us, we try to impress them to gain their approval, and our human nature will stoop to deception to accomplish its purposes. Sadly, many of the Pharisees were more concerned about reputation than character—what people thought about them than what God knew about them. The fear of men always brings a snare (Proverbs 29:25), and Jesus wants His disciples to avoid it and be stable in their faith. As Scottish novelist and poet, Sir Walter Scott, wrote, “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice deceiving.”


2. How can we avoid the pitfall of hypocrisy? Luke 12:1-3

Jesus compares hypocrisy to leaven, which symbolizes sin (I Corinthians 5:6-8; Galatians 5:9). Like leaven, hypocrisy begins small but grows quickly and quietly. As it does, it infects the whole person and eventually the whole society. When a person is puffed up with pride, hypocrisy flourishes and character deteriorates (I Corinthians 4:6, 18-19; 5:2). Hypocrisy, like all sin, must be stopped before the underlying pride has an opportunity to spread (James 1:14-15). The longer he waits to deal with it, the worse it gets. Nothing can really be hidden (Mark 4:22), which makes hypocrisy foolish and futile. So why keep pretending?

Jesus was perhaps concerned that His disciples might be tempted to compromise the truth to avoid offending the crowds or the Pharisees (see Luke 8:16-18; 11:33). Many who profess to be God’s ministers do something like this to remain in their pulpits. God’s truth is like light, not leaven, and it must not be hidden.


3. What is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit? Luke 12:8-10

Jesus appears to contradict Himself. In Luke 12:8-9, He demands that we openly confess Him without hypocrisy, but in verse 10, He says our speech against Him can be forgiven. Yet, God will not forgive speaking against the Spirit. Why? One who blasphemes God’s Spirit so thoroughly rejects its power to work in him that he refuses to submit to God. Too proud and rebellious to repent, he cannot be forgiven. A true Christian, though, constantly depends on the Spirit to reflect Christ’s life as much as possible.

Christ’s sacrifice for the overall forgiveness of sin and the receiving of God’s Holy Spirit applies only once for each person, and if an individual rejects God’s grace, it cannot be applied again (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-27). This is why apostasy is so serious a matter and why the first-century apostles contended so fiercely against heresy. Eternal lives are at stake!

Sustained neglect can also lead to eternal death. The sinner may know he should repent of his sins, but through lethargy, he never bothers to overcome them. In his apathy, he may try to appear righteous, but he is not fooling God. In effect, he is blaspheming God’s Spirit by refusing to repent, so his sin is unpardonable.


4. How can we overcome hypocrisy? Luke 12:8-12

The remedy for hypocrisy is reverent fear of God, the fear that conquers all other fears because the person who truly fears God fears nothing else. The apostle John teaches that the love of God casts out fear (I John 4:18, 19). Thus, we can ignore the negative things people say and do. With God standing by us, why should we fear the criticism of others (Hebrews 13:6)? They can do no more than kill the body, but God can destroy both life and body (Matthew 10:28). Since Christ is the ultimate and eternal Judge, it is logical to put the fear of God ahead of everything else.

Fearing man often results in denying Christ, bringing severe consequences (Matthew 10:32-33). A Christian can avoid persecution by denying that he is Jesus’ disciple, but the eternal cost of doing so is far worse than the persecution that he sought to avoid. The opposite of denying Christ is to confess Him before others, that is, to be a true witness for Him by living God’s way. A Christian living any other way is a hypocrite.


There is no shame in suffering for being a Christian. If we suffer for righteousness, we should keep on doing what is right, trusting our lives to our Creator, because He will never fail us (I Peter 4:16-19).


by Martin G. Collins

Thursday 24 September 2020

The True Gospel

Imagine a corporation needed to train new sales representatives to expand its market. Unfortunately, the company could not bring all the new employees to its headquarters, so it was decided to send out trainers to the various new markets and train the salespeople there. 

However, the trainers all had different ideas about what the corporate philosophy and sales methods were! The new salespeople were all taught different things! What confusion!

A similar difference in teaching has occurred in the various Christian churches, each of which has its own understanding of what the true gospel is. Some say it is "the gospel of grace." Others call their version "the gospel of salvation" or "the gospel of Christ." To others, it is "the gospel of God" or "the gospel of the Kingdom." Which is it? How does the Bible define the true gospel? The only true gospel is the one presented in its pages, and we can search it out! Below are eight QUESTIONS;


1. Does it matter what gospel Christians believe? Galatians 1:8-9.

Indeed, it does! Paul pronounces a double curse on anyone who preaches a gospel different from the one preached by the apostles! The gospel is a serious business! The apostles were taught directly by Christ, who gave them a commission to "preach the gospel" (Mark 16:15).


2. What gospel did Jesus Himself preach? Mark 1:14.

Jesus preached "the gospel of the kingdom of God"! "Gospel" derives from an old English word meaning "good news." He came proclaiming the good news that God's Kingdom would come and restore all things (Acts 3:19-21). Jesus is the King of a literal Kingdom that will reign over the whole earth when He returns (see John 18:36-37; Revelation 5:10; 19:11-16; 20:4-6). The gospel explains, not only that it is coming, but also how we can be a part of it. That is great news!


3. What did Christ say we must do to enter it? Mark 1:15.

The conditions for entering God's Kingdom are simple in concept: "repent and believe in the gospel." Repentance is a complete turning or changing of the mind and way of life to follow God. And God's way of life is defined by His commandments (Matthew 19:17). We repent by quitting our former sinful way of life and keeping God's commands.

Believing the gospel encompasses both believing in Christ as well as believing what He said (John 8:30-31). Millions believe that He came as their Savior and now lives eternally as their soon-coming King while rejecting the very message He brought to save them! What a paradox!


4. Where did Christ's message originate? John 12:49-50; 14:24; 17:7-8.

Jesus spoke only what His Father in heaven told Him to speak! Thus, our Messiah, Jesus Christ, was a Messenger from God the Father, bringing the message of God's plan for all mankind, the message of the New Covenant (Malachi 3:1). The gospel of God, the gospel of Jesus, and the gospel of the Kingdom are the same gospel! It originated in God, was proclaimed by His Son, and tells of the coming rule of God and our part in it!


5. What is "the gospel of grace"? Acts 20:24-25.

In these verses, Paul is speaking to the elders of the church in Ephesus about his ministry. He explains that his ministry had testified "to the gospel of the grace of God." And what had he preached? The Kingdom of God (see Acts 28:30-31)! God's wonderful offer of grace and salvation is also part of the gospel of the Kingdom!


6. Is the church the Kingdom of God? Colossians 1:13.

While Christians await the establishment of God's Kingdom on the earth at the return of Jesus Christ, they are considered by God to be spiritually a part of His Kingdom. Having voluntarily placed themselves under Christ's rule, they are said to have their citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3:20) and be "members of the household of God" (Ephesians 2:19). As members of Christ's body, they are "in Christ" (Romans 8:1; II Corinthians 5:17), and therefore are actively participating in the advancement of God's Kingdom. However, Christians have not yet inherited the Kingdom in its fullness, an event that will not happen until they are resurrected and glorified at Christ's coming (I Corinthians 15:50-54). In addition, their being "in Christ" does not preclude their falling away from Him in the future (Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-31).


7. Is the Kingdom of God "within you"? Luke 17:21.

This sadly mistranslated verse has led many sincere people astray. Without even knowing the Greek language, we can see that Jesus could not mean that the Kingdom was some ethereal quality in the hearts of the Pharisees! On the contrary, He castigated them often for their unbelief! Entos, translated "within," should be translated "in the midst of" or "among." Jesus, the coming King of the Kingdom of God, was in their midst or among them! The thrust of His teaching in this section is that unbelievers will not recognize the working of God's Kingdom among them, just as the Pharisees had not recognized their Savior among them.


8. What gospel is to be preached before the end comes? Matthew 24:14.

The gospel of the Kingdom is for today! It is preached, not only when we proclaim that Jesus Christ will return soon to establish His government upon this earth (Isaiah 9:6-7; Zechariah 14:9), but also when we teach both believers and unbelievers how to live God's way of life (I Corinthians 15:1-2; Philippians 1:27; I Thessalonians 2:8-9). That is truly good news!