Keep it real!
17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud (2 Peter 2).”
It’s disappointing when we think we know someone, because they are an apologist for their convictions, only to discover they are hypocrites. We wish everyone would practice what they preach. The more influential someone is, the higher our expectations of them. Parents, teachers, church leadership, politicians and others are all required to set examples for those they oversee. It’s unfortunate when someone fails to conduct themselves according to the standards they have set for themselves or others. Christians have to live up to their calling; as followers and believers of God, Christ Jesus and the teachings of Scripture. Faith is proved by our actions. Our convictions determine the direction of our lives.
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? (James 2)
If we believe in certain values, then we must stick to them. Thinking about something is not the same as doing it. Faith without works is dead faith—worthless and unprofitable. Faith must be accompanied by works. If you just went around telling people, “Jesus love you,” they would not care until you showed concern for their needs. If you believe in love then act in love. Show your faith by what you do.
The Pharisees, in The Lord Jesus’ days, focused on strictly following Jewish traditions, but neglected mercy, love, justice, and compassion for others. While they claimed to believe in God, they didn’t do what God commanded them to do for others. We can love God, but we must love our neighbors as ourselves. God loves people, and to love people is to love God, Who made them in His Image. Works do not precede faith in God. We believe therefore, we obey, and we obey by our actions. Even the demons believe in God. We are not like them who believe and are rebellious. If the demons believe, then it’s foolish for anyone to be an atheist or idol worshipper. The demons believe there’s One God; yet they are the worst of created beings. The difference is demons don’t do what God commands. Obedience is the hallmark of a true Christian. Don’t just mull over what God has already commanded, do it! There’s a place reserved for the hypocrites. The works of faith are shown more evidently in our love for others, as we also love God.
45 “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? 46 Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. 47 Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. 48 But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, 50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, 51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24).
God doesn’t tolerate hypocrites. Hypocrites don’t take God seriously. Their actions make others question God’s Authority and Holiness. There are many Christians who have given up on waiting for Christ’s return. There are those in Church leadership who are also losing their patience with the congregation. Impatience will reveal who we really are. Before long, people start to question what else they have been living for. The Master is coming to take His people to be with Him for Eternity. The Body of Christ should be alert while serving Him, by doing what pleases Him. It is not the time to conform to worldliness in debauchery, strife, hatred and arrogance. Hypocrites cause God’s Name to be blasphemed by others. Christians are to honor God by their conduct of unwavering obedience. When they act like the rest of the world, they promote their self-will and rebellion, before others. They are an aversion to those who want to see authentic and faithful members of The Body of Christ. They pollute God’s Name by which they have been called—sons and daughters of The Most High God. God has reserved hell for the hypocrites, because they dishonor Him in their levity to His Righteousness.
21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “The Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written (Romans 2).
We teach others what we should expect of ourselves. Don’t condone what you practice, when no one else is watching. The more we know God, the more accountable we are to Him. Sometimes it’s better to just speak less and do more. As we make our position clear on issues, we should be earnest to follow through. If we boast of God’s Perfect Law, then we must keep it. We can’t fool anyone with hypocrisy. God’s Name should not be blasphemed by those who claim to know and love Him. Christians are an expression of God’s Likeness to those around them, by their attitude, character, values, words and actions.
33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it on the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned (Matthew 12).”
Speak what you believe; but remember your words have life. Words will build or destroy others, including the one who is speaking them. Idle words are words we don’t intend to keep. By our words we will be justified or condemned, because we speak what is from the heart. If we intend to deceive, we will lie about who we are. Out of the abundance of the heart is a wellspring of desires and intentions. A good person will have good intentions and act on them. An evil person has wicked desires and will fulfill them. We use words to express our intentions. A good tree produces good fruit, just as a person of good character does good deeds.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Do you not know that as many of us were baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the Glory of The Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His Resurrection. 6 Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin (Romans 6).
Walk in the newness of life— The Life of The Risen Lord Jesus Christ. Our body of sin was united to the Body of Christ, in death. But we are now risen with Him— to live in Him. We can not seek life among the dead. We can not desire to live in the body of sin, that was crucified with Christ. Now, as a new creation, we live in the likeness of His Resurrection. The dead can longer sin; their works are done. We have been freed from sin by His death, and now live by His Spirit. All things are now in Christ. So put off hypocrisy! It is not befitting of one who has already died to sin. Live in the newness of Eternal life and don’t relapse to the old nature.
18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear. 19 But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. 20 Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me (Psalm 66).
Acknowledge that sin is keeping you from obeying God and serving Him. Don’t hide your sin when you go before God. He will not hear the prayers of a brazen sinner, who refuses to seek after His Righteousness. We must approach God in humility. He hears the prayer of the contrite, who repents wholeheartedly. Sometimes, we don’t want to tell God that we were wrong; we prefer to point the finger at someone else. Before we ask God to meet our needs, we have to be honest with Him about our sin. He will not shun the prayers of those who seek Righteousness, before they make their requests.
We are a living testimony of the new life we have in Christ. Our values, conduct, words and lifestyle will determine whether we are authentic Christians. We are not meant to fit in with the world; but to live as sojourners destined for The Kingdom of God. Every Kingdom has a King, a people and laws. Our faith is shown by our actions. As servants awaiting the return of our Savior, we must continue to serve faithfully. He will reward us according to our commitment and determination to obey Him.
Hypocrites tarnish God’s Name by their double-minded attitude. As we profess our faith, we open ourselves up to scrutiny. A good person will speak out of the good treasure of their heart. A hypocrite will act on the wickedness of their desires. God does not hear the prayers of a rebellious Christian. We must be authentic Christians so that God’s Name is not blasphemed by others. It would be tragic to have spent our lives professing Christ as our Lord, and fail to live up to our calling.
14 You have said, ‘It is useless to serve God; What profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before The Lord of hosts? 15 So now we call the proud blessed, for those who do wickedness are raised up. They even tempt God and go free.“
16 Then those who feared The Lord spoke to one another, and The Lord listened and heard them. So a book of remembrance was written before Him, for those who fear The Lord and who meditate on His name. 17 “They shall be Mine,” says The Lord of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him.” 18 Then you shall again discern, between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him (Malachi 3).