I have a tendency to rag on the hypocrisy of religion a lot and today’s post will do some
more, but I will do so with fear and trembling because we all have tendencies to be hypocrites to one degree or another to the consternation of the unsaved world. And so as not to come across as some kind of “higher than thou” saint, this post has convicted me of areas of my life that need to change as well. For you see I have the greater condemnation as being the teacher and have not yet arrived. You see at age 12 I ran away from church because of the hypocrisy of it all. Religions of all sorts seem very noble in their pursuit of holiness, their disdain for worldly pleasures and their many humanitarian deeds; but as I mentioned in a previous post, they put the cart before the horse. But hear me out on this. In this passage the Apostle gives us a peek into what religion “God accepts” and so let’s see what it takes to measure up.
Listening and Doing
19 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does. 26 If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who gives you my Word so that you can know what true Righteousness is and what I expect from you. My Word is to be taken literally so that you can truly know what I am like, not explained away as allegorical when it is convenient. Even if you do so I will still hold you accountable to it as I have written it. My Word will outlast this creation that I spoke into existence. My Word gives you freedom from sin and death, as My Word gives life.
I AM the God who will change you from the inside out by my Word. Not by vain religious rituals. No, My holy requirements can only be imputed into you by my Spirit. Not by any amount of good deeds or obeying of laws. You don’t have it in you to be good enough to please me. If you don’t believe me, just reflect on what your eyes crave, evaluate what your mind dwells on in the idle moments of the day, or what your hand do behind closed doors when nobody sees. I AM there, I do see, I hear, I know what you think about. Only my Son can please me by his work on the cross in your stead and in whom He chooses to reside. Only I can change you from within and give you genuine integrity. Only then Romans 8:1 applies to you.
I AM the God of all compassion and my heart hurts for all the needy people of the world which have been forgotten. But I want to use my children if they would join me in my work here on earth. I want to glorify myself through you as you see what I see and care for the needs of others around you. Only by laying your ambitions of personal gain down for the sake of others will you demonstrate that this world is not your god. It also shows that you have my interests at heart –People. I want to give you the opportunity to be my spokes persons of love and charity. You are my ears, listen to their cries. You are my eyes, so lift them up to see the need of the harvest. You are my hands to help the needy. You can be all these things if you would have my heart. The reason that I don’t just cure all the world’s ailments myself is that I want to you to be my agents for change to meet the world’s needs so that I can give you the rewards. None of this can be done solely by religion. “Not by might nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord.” My spirit in you.
Hypocrisy can be defined as head knowledge without the application of it. Thus everyone fits into this category to some extent if we would be honest including me. Gal 5 says that the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience etc. It also says that the works of the flesh are obvious. Gal 5:17 says you will be controlled by one or the other. We humans have the tendency to compartmentalize our life into church and other, including all the corresponding ling. God hates that. If we honestly examined our religion in light of God’s Word, should we be pleased with ourselves? Would God be who sees in truth?
Hypocrisy is not unknown among genuine Christians either. According to one book that I am currently reading, only half of the “born again” Christians in America even attend church or believe that God’s Word is accurate in all of its teachings. Most do not even have a biblical world view or know what that entails. What hypocrites lack in true righteousness, they make up for by heady knowledge and pride, legalism, and showy but empty acts of ritualism. Even in their self denial and sacrifice, religion displays pride; all of which has deceived and trapped billions of people into a Godless/ Christless eternity.
Genuineness is living like Christ did
Through this passage we can see some of what God’s heartbeat for the world is; in a word –Genuineness. He gave his Word to free us from enslavement to our selfish sin nature. By freeing us, he is giving us the privilege and responsibility to help others be free – like those who cannot help themselves and particularly those who cannot pay us back for our acts of compassion. Genuineness is living like Christ did for the sake of others needs without concern for what we can get out of it in return.
I admire the service that religions do for the needy of the world. They tirelessly provide schools, orphanages, hospitals, humanitarian aid programs, Aids programs, homes for the abandoned of our societies. Without them the world would be a darker place. But I feel so badly for them if they are depending upon their sacrificial good deeds to save them. Their deception will delve them a bitter blow before the God that they think they serve when he says “depart from me, for I never knew you…” The credit that they seek will elude them because religion does these good deeds with the wrong motive and or power. Doing good to earn God’s favor, to receive reward, to become their own god, to gain a better reincarnation in the next life, or out of obligatory duty is the same as Adam’s stitching of fig leave together to cover his shame, or Cain’s self righteous disobedient sacrifice of vegetables. Both of these were rejected out rightly by God. Because like religion, they tried to appease God in their own human wisdom instead of coming to God as God directed by his Word.
Religions take away the key to true knowledge
Jesus said to the religious leaders of his day in Lk 11:46 “and you experts in the law, woe to you because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not life one finger to help them.” And in vs 52 “Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.” And elsewhere he says “you think that in the scriptures you have life, but they testify of me.” Life and salvation are found in Jesus not religion. “He who has the Son has life, he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”, “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples… But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.” Jn 20:31 NIV
Do you have the Son?
“In this is eternal life, that they know you and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” Do you have the Son of God – Jesus Christ in you today? If so, then your works of righteousness will produce eternal reward. He is the source of power for your changed selfless life of good deeds. He is the cure for hypocrisy because He is the God of Integrity and Genuineness. Then “when Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory” Col 3:4
More to come,