Guest Blogger – My Father – David P. Cotner II – “The Holiness of God”

What is Holiness?

God is absolutely holy. But what does this mean? The Bible says:

“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8).

The holiness of God is His chief attribute. It regulates all other attributes: love, justice, mercy, etc.

Holiness contains two main ideas:

  1. Separateness – God is unique. There is none like Him. He is completely separate from creation; He is not a part of it.
  2. Sinlessness – God is completely without sin. He is perfect; nothing else is perfect.

What God’s holiness means to us:

  1. He cannot do wrong.
  2. He cannot do what is harmful.
  3. He cannot change.

Why God’s holiness matters:

  1. His word is right and can be trusted which gives us a solid foundation.
  2. His will is certain and cannot be altered which provides a sure future.
  3. His plan and purpose for us cannot be anything but good which helps strengthen faith.
  4. Holiness must be the regulating factor in our lives which will give us a steady focus.

“We praise You, Father, for Your holiness. May we ever live in awe of You. Give us this day the things we need to glorify You, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

The Patience of God

This week, my wife is out of town in Pennsylvania. She is enjoying some time with her Beachbody team. This incredible team of women encourages my wife to stay physically and spiritually fit. I am so glad that she gets some time away with her friends.

But since she is away, I am at home with our three oldest children. Thankfully, she took our youngest child, Derrick (just 6 months old), with her, but I get the joyful burden of watching our 9-year-old, 7-year-old, and crazy (truly crazy) 3-year-old. Heather has only been gone for a little over 24 hours, but I am already so grateful for all that she does for our kids!

I mean, it never ceases to amaze me at how much I have to repeat myself with my children. I’m always saying things like, “Now, what do you say?” Or “Aurora, your shoes are on the wrong feet. Switch them, please.” Or “Please stop running in the house!” Or “Don’t forget to give the dog food and water.” Or “Did you brush your teeth?” Or “Stop fighting”. Or “Stop whining.” Or “Stop talking back!” You get the idea, especially if you’re a parent. Wow. My kids (perhaps your kids too) hear these constant refrains.

I must admit that I often get easily irritated with my kids. I think, “Why don’t they listen? Are they deaf? I’ve told them these things a hundred billion times!” But as I was reminding my 3-year-old of something that I’ve told her a million times, it dawned on me…I’m not a very patient father, but God (my Father) is always patient with me.

I thought to myself, “How many times has God had to remind me of the simplest truths or commands? And yet, I am slow of mind and hard of heart to listen and remember…” God the Father often reminds me to trust Him, to love others, and to serve with pure motives, and yet I easily forget or (worse yet) I ignore Him and choose to sin. And still God is ever so patient with me, loving me, and blessing me despite all that I am (a hard-hearted sinner) and all that I am not (a fully sanctified saint).

So, today I am thankful for the patience of God. He lovingly reminds me (over and over and over again…a hundred billion times) that He is with me and for me. He doesn’t ever lash out in anger and is always ready to help me and forgive me. Indeed, the patience of God should be one of the primary motivators of my patience toward my own kids and the other people in my life. Yes, our God is a patient God, and I am in awe of His constant, never ceasing patience!

Hear now the words of Scripture in regard to the patience of our great God…

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” – Psalm 103:8

“But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” – 1 Timothy 1:16

Therefore…

“You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” – James 5:8

10 Church Members God Especially Calls Me to Love By Tim Challies

In a recent and widely-shared article, a pastor provides a series of profiles of church members who “drive him crazy” and make pastoral ministry “less than fun.” Though he tells of his love for the local church and his commitment to it, he also says that every church he knows has “members and attenders that get under the skin of a leader.” His article is meant to provide a brief description of each, perhaps to allow other pastors to commiserate or perhaps to provide a kind of warning to Christians, as if to say “don’t be like these people.”

Like almost every other church leader, I have encountered some members who have been abnormally difficult for various reasons (though, to be fair, I expect most church members have also encountered some pastors who have been abnormally difficult). These are a microscopic minority of the people who have called our church home over the years, but by their very nature, they tend to punch above their weight. Setting aside those who are living in unrepentant sin or attempting to destroy the church through divisive behavior (and who, therefore, ought to be under the discipline of the church), I’ve had to ask: how am I, as a pastor, to relate to particularly difficult people?

I understand why a pastor is prone to think about how these people drive him crazy. I’ve done that myself. But it was crucial to my spiritual health and to my success in ministry that I make a change in my thinking. Rather than seeing them as people who drive me crazy, I have preferred to see them as people I’m particularly called to love—people who stretch and grow my ability to love. I begin with the thought of how my own behavior must often be “less than fun” in the eyes of God and how I do so much that could “get under his skin.” Yet he does not grumble about me, though he certainly could. He does not get annoyed or ashamed, though I certainly give him every reason to. He does not see me as a problem child, though I certainly am. Rather, he continues to care for me with patience, kindness, and perseverance. He continues to seek my good. He continues to love me.

In that vein, here are those same 10 people—10 people that preset a special challenge to love in a special way. (The words in quotes and/or italics are drawn from the original article.)

  1. The “doom and gloom” member: This person is prone to grumbling about what goes on in the life of the church. This person needs extra reassurance and needs to have me gently explain to him the distinction between matters that are major and minor, between matters that demand strict obedience to God’s Word and matters that can vary based on conscience. Much of what he considers a sign of imminent doom may actually be a lack of understanding between issues that mark a standing and falling church and issues that are simply not matching his preferences.
  2. The “on the edge of leaving” member: He often suggests he is going to need to leave over one issue or another. In my worst moments I may be tempted to wish he would. But then I remember that the Good Shepherd knows that at times he must leave the 99 to pursue the one. While we may think of that one as a helpless, naive wanderer, what’s to say he’s not a bitter or disobedient sheep whose wandering has been deliberate? So I take my cue from the ultimate Shepherd and do what I can to seek him out and bring him back.
  3. The “amateur theologian” member: This member either has an extensive grasp of theology or merely thinks he does. He then often uses that knowledge to debate the pastors and even to promote his own stance on issues. Acknowledging that many people are smarter, wiser, and better-trained than I am, I commend his knowledge and love of knowledge, and see where I can use it to serve the church. Of course I may also attempt to help him better understand which theological issues are matters of dispute or conscience, perhaps by leading him through a text like Romans 14.
  4. The “Did you know?” member: He wants to be “in the know” about everything in the church. In fact, he’s involved in almost all of the church’s gossip and gets angry when he’s out of the loop. He needs to be told, in a loving way, and then perhaps through the process of church discipline, that gossip is sinful. It is forbidden by Scripture and opposed to our membership covenant. I express love to him and to my church by reminding him there is much he doesn’t know, shouldn’t know, and mustn’t pass on.
  5. The “recommitment” member: She shows up about every six months, recommits her life to Jesus, and then disappears for the next six months. This member must be treated with such gentleness and compassion, because in all likelihood the pull of the world continues to lure her. She is caught between two worlds, two masters! She needs to hear the good news of the gospel, she needs to be told she has a church that loves her, and she needs to be pursued by those who are called to shepherd her. Far be it from me to be annoyed by a member like this! She is especially vulnerable to Satan’s attacks and is certainly among the “all the flock” I’m charged to keep watch over (Acts 20:28).
  6. The “constitutional lawyer” member: Nobody knows the church constitution like this member does, and he brings out the documents any time he doesn’t like something. This member may be the perfect candidate to serve as parliamentarian in the meetings of the church—to be the one who knows the constitution and Robert’s Rules of Order so he can ensure the formal meetings proceed according to best practices. He may thrive when given that responsibility. Either way, why should I fear or be annoyed by the person who holds me to the church’s constitution when I may otherwise deliberately or inadvertently violate it?
  7. The “internet sermon troll” member: He listens to everybody else’s sermons online, and then critiques my sermons in light of others. Here is a member who is eager to learn the truths of the Christian faith, but who lacks the maturity to know what to do with such knowledge. Acknowledging there are many pastors who preach far better than I ever can or will, I appreciate his fervor and choose to overlook the offense of him critiquing my sermons. I know before whom I stand or fall. I know this member is not the one qualified to determine whether I’ve been obedient to God and done the best I can with the few talents God has assigned to me.
  8. The “nostalgia freak” member: She knows everything about the church’s history, and she sees her role as protecting the past by fighting against anything new. This seems to be a particular struggle for those who are elderly, and perhaps especially those who have given so many hours and so much money to get the church to where it is today. She needs to be commended for her service to the church and her love for it; she needs to be commended for trying to build a bridge between the church’s past and future. Maybe God is using her to slow me down where I would otherwise move too hastily. And perhaps as I speak to her in a loving, gentle way, she will grow to trust me as I begin to lead the church in directions that may contradict her desires.
  9. The “unforgiving saint” member: He got angry over something years ago, and he refuses to let it go. When confronted about it, he can spiritualize his reasons with the best of them. My first response to this member is to consider if I have genuinely sinned against him and if there is something for which I need to ask his forgiveness. If there is not, or if I have already repented of any sin before him, then the most loving way to pastor him is to speak to him about his lack of forgiveness and to show him what the Bible says about the necessity of forgiving those who have repented. Love toward this member may even involve church discipline which seeks his restoration for unrepentant sin.
  10. The “on sabbatical” member: No matter what you do, this member refuses to serve in the church. “I’ve done my duty in the past,” he says. Some members do not understand that God calls all of us, and not just the pastors or staff, to do the work of the ministry. Some members thrive when given a challenge or when asked to serve in a ministry suited to their gifts and talents. Then, some members do far more than their fair share, or are asked to do too much by their pastors, and sometimes burn out. Many pastors claim a well-earned sabbatical—why should we not extend the same to those who have served our churches so long or so well?

The author of the original article says, “To be honest, folks like these can make pastoral ministry less than fun some days.” But an under-shepherd knows he doesn’t tend sheep because tending sheep is fun; rather, he tends sheep because his master, the True Shepherd, has called him to. He knows he has not been called to a life of ease, but a life of service, even to those who sometimes make that service a trial. He knows he is not responsible to tend only the sheep who make his life easy, but even the ones who make it more difficult, the ones who wander, the ones who are easily disgruntled. He knows that the sheep—even these sheep—are his ministry. The author says, “take time to pray specifically for these members in your church. Maybe God will change a few so they don’t drive you crazy anymore.” Or maybe he won’t. But if you pray earnestly, he may at least change you so you can be a fitting, faithful shepherd to his sheep.

You can find the original post from Challies at his webpage https://www.challies.com/articles/10-church-members-god-especially-calls-me-to-love/

“Questions about Patriotism in Church” By Dr. Dean Taylor

Around the time of national days of remembrance such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, I hear two questions about patriotism in church. Here are the questions in their basic form:

  • Why don’t we do more to show our patriotism in church?
  • Why do we celebrate patriotism in church?

These questions represent two mentalities about recognizing national holidays and what they represent. Some people wish we would devote more attention to it while others wonder why we devote any attention at all.

I have considered speaking to this issue, and a recent article prompted me to go ahead. You can read the article, titled Why Younger Evangelicals May Feel Uneasy in a Patriotic Church Service, here.

Here’s a less recent article, this one by Kevin DeYoung, making some of the same observations and expressing his opinion on the issue.

My thoughts are similar to some, not all, of these guys’. If any of what I say sounds the same, it is not copied. I thought these things before I read what anyone else said about them. Here goes, not in any clearly logical order.

  • We should express gratitude to God for all of our blessings, including the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans. There is plenty of Scripture that directs us to be thankful, and it is certainly appropriate to publicly thank God for our freedom, just as we thank Him for other material and circumstantial blessings in our lives. We should be grateful for the people who founded the USA and for those who have defended it and do so today. We can express thanks in prayer for them in the local church setting.
  • Christianity is not national. America does not equal Israel. America is not a manifestation of the kingdom of God. Christianity is personal. It is experienced individually, and it is embodied and expressed in the setting of the local church, not in the culture and political leadership of a nation. I am uncomfortable with preaching and praying for “America to turn back to God.” I do not think it is helpful to urge people to “Return to the faith of our founding fathers.” What Scripture guides us to pray for “God’s blessing on America?” We need to preach and pray for people to turn in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ. God does not have to give a particular nation prosperity, freedom, and security in order to show that He is alive and well and at work in the world.
  • Our fellowship in Christ does not eliminate national identity, but it does supersede any and all distinctions, including nationality (Acts 2:5ffGalatians 3:26-29Revelation 5:8-14). My local church is not an American institution. The church was founded by Jesus Christ, and He is its head. Having too much patriotic and nationalistic expression in church gatherings sends the wrong message. I did not say any expression, just too much. Finding that balance is each church’s prerogative. In many local churches, including ours, there are members, attenders, and guests present from countries other than the USA. I do not want to convey to them that our church is American. The worship, focus, message, and attitude of our gatherings should transcend nationality. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ . . . “ (Philippians 3:20).
  • Church gatherings should include times of specific prayer for national leaders, especially for those who are not friendly to Christianity (1 Timothy 2:1-7). This should not be limited to national holidays and election season.
  • Christians’ lives should be characterized by submission to, cooperation with, and respect for government leaders (Matthew 22:21Romans 13:1-7). Read that sentence again. Read the Bible verses. Christians who get upset about not having a patriotic service in church and then disrespect, mock, and defy national, state, and local governmental authorities are hypocritical.
  • In summary, I see Scriptural basis for giving thanks for blessings we enjoy as Americans, praying for governmental leaders, and learning and practicing what the Word of God says about living as Christians in whatever national setting we have been providentially placed.

Here’s what we did last Sunday, July 6, at our church. During our Sunday morning gathering, we made comments acknowledging the significance of the weekend, expressing gratitude for freedom, and a reminder that true freedom is found in Jesus Christ (John 8:36). Our prayer included thanks for national freedom as well as prayer for our brothers and sisters in the world who are oppressed and persecuted for being Christians. After that there was really no further mention of anything that would be considered patriotic. The musical worship and the message were focused on God and our relationship to Him. Then those who wanted to stay enjoyed a fellowship lunch in our wooded picnic area. At 1:30 a few children and families shared songs, and we sang a few fun Americana type songs and one or two that you’d find in the Patriotism section of the hymnbook. One of our pastors shared a message from 1 Timothy 2:1-7.

Our observation of Independence Day at Calvary may have been too little for some, too much for others. I think it was appropriate in that the main gathering of worshiping, learning, and growing was not focused on our nation, but on God and His Word, and that we spent time as a church family later in the day expressing our thanks to God, being reminded of what it means to live as Christians in our nation, and just enjoying being together.

Let the fireworks begin. =)

Count Your Blessings

“Count your blessings; name them one by one. Count your many blessings; see what God hath done!” Remember this song? For some of you, this song will now be stuck in your head all day…And that’s a good thing!

Yes, it is good and right to recount the many blessings of God upon our lives. So often we tend to zoom in on all the burdens of life and neglect to be thankful for the many, many blessings of life that God has graciously given to us. Below are just a few of the many blessings that God has dumped on my life:

  1. My Salvation – Firmly rooted in God’s grace and freely bestowed upon me by my faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, I am beyond thankful for my salvation.
  2. My Wife – The Bible is clear: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD” (Proverbs 18:22). I definitely have a “good thing” in my beautiful and supportive wife, Heather Cotner.
  3. My Children – I have four young blessings in Ann-Marie (almost 9 years old), David (7 years old), Aurora (3 years old), and Derrick (5 months old). These kids give me such joy with their zest for life and learning. I have learned so much from them already and just hope that they learn as much from me as I learn from them.
  4. My Home – Every time I pull up to my house that sits at the intersection of 2nd and C Ave, I smile. I just love the little yellow house that God has provided to me and my family. It has plenty of space for all of us, keeps us warm in the winter, and has a wonderful front porch for those beautiful summertime evenings. What a blessing it is to own our own home!
  5. My Church – It is such a wonderful, joyful burden to be the Lead Pastor of Prairie Flower Baptist Church. My Associate Pastor, Tim O’Tool, is a joy to work beside and has proven himself to be a creative and stable leader. My Deacons are also some of the godliest and most hardworking men that I know, and I am incredibly grateful to serve alongside each of them. I’m also thankful for my Praise Team as they always work so hard Sunday after Sunday and really encourage our congregation to sing to the Lord with gusto. I’m also so incredibly grateful for all of the many wonderful volunteers that faithfully serve in our Nursery, Sunday School, Children’s Church, Growth Groups, Outfitters, and K4T…I’m just so incredibly grateful for my Prairie Flower Baptist Church family!

Writing this list was surprisingly refreshing…even therapeutic. How good it was to sit, reflect, and praise my King for all of the blessings He has given to me. Now, here’s your homework assignment: List the blessings that God has given you. Then, spend time in prayer, thanking Him for His many, many blessings upon your life. Yes, “count your blessings; name them one by one. Count your many blessings; see what God hath done!”

The Beauty, Difficulty, & Benefits of Faithfulness…

Just last week, I officiated the graveside service of a man who died at the age of 95. He was a believer in Jesus Christ, a World War 2 veteran, and was married to his wife for 68 years. Let that number sink in for a moment. He was married to his wife for nearly 7 decades!

Then, just this week, I was out for coffee, when I met a friend in town. I asked him how he was doing, and he responded, with great enthusiasm, “I’m great! Tomorrow my wife and I celebrate 62 years of marriage.” This man married his wife at 20 and is now 82 years old with over 6 decades of marriage behind him!

I don’t know about you, but numbers like these blow me away. I’m awestruck as I think to myself, “How do you do that? What’s the secret sauce to long-term faithfulness?” Certainly, the grace of God is one of the key factors in long-term faithfulness, but meeting people who actually have stayed tried and true is always a remarkable privilege.

I often say that long-term faithfulness trumps short-term fervency. This quote is not original with me, but it’s a powerful statement to the extreme value of faithfulness. In fact, let’s think deeply for a moment on the topic of faithfulness. I have three thoughts…

  1. Faithfulness is beautiful. In other words, being a faithful man or woman is extremely attractive. There’s just something about a loyal individual that makes them trustworthy and worth your time to get to know at a deep level. Are you such a person? Proverbs 20:6 states, “Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?”
  2. Faithfulness is difficult. It’s hard to stay faithful. It’s just plain difficult. Why? Because we live in a culture that is easily bored. We live in a society that prizes things that are new, or cutting edge, or exciting. Many of us like the beginnings of things. Some of us enjoy the middle of things. However, few stick around to see the beauty and benefits of the end of things…
  3. Faithfulness is beneficial. The Bible constantly points us to the extreme benefits and rewards of faithfulness. God Himself is always faithful (2 Timothy 2:13) and He rewards those who mirror His image in this way (Matthew 25:21). It’s worth it to be faithful! Indeed, it is a requirement…1 Corinthians 4:2b states, “It is expected of managers (or stewards/servants) that each one of them be found faithful.”

May God continue to mold and shape all of us into faithful saints who glorify Him!

Little Fantasies That Comfort…

When I was a small boy, I had some strange concepts about life. Perhaps the strangest concept involved a back-and-forth development between me and my parents. I was convinced that after I grew up and became an adult, my parents would shrink and become children. I then assumed that I would be able to boss them around and get back at them for all the childhood atrocities that they had put me through (e.g., having to eat all the food on my plate, going to bed early, etc.). I honestly thought that life was a constant back and forth of growing up and then shrinking back, with parents becoming children and children becoming parents. Obviously, such a notion is ludicrous and inconsistent with reality. But I remember daydreaming of the day that I would be able to boss my parents around and get even with them once they became children again…

Why did I tell you that story? I have no idea, but isn’t it interesting that we can harbor such weird thoughts about life and reality? Even as an adult, I often wonder, are there things that I believe about life, God, and eternity that provide comfort, but are in no way dialed into reality? Do you ever wonder such thoughts?

As a local church pastor, I often encounter people who have some wild ideas about life, God, and eternity. This becomes especially pronounced to me when I’m officiating funeral or graveside services. I’ve pretty much heard it all over the years…”My loved one is an angel with wings now…”Or, “I’m sure he’s up there fishing with Jesus right now…” Or, “I put this item into my loved one’s urn (or casket) so that they’ll have it with them in eternity…” Yeah, I’ve heard many strange things that people, in their grief, turn to for comfort and encouragement. Yet, these things, according to Scripture, are not dialed into reality.

You see, the little fantasies that we tell ourselves might be comforting, but they’re not true. In fact, isn’t it better to be comforted with the truth than with a lie? “But what if the truth hurts?” Ah, you see, that’s where the cookie crumbles…Perhaps we are attracted to the little fantasies that we conjure up in our minds because the truth is too difficult to fathom…

Not sure where to land the plane on this little blog post, except to say this…Even if the truth hurts, it eventually comforts. Truth is like a surgeon…It cuts, but it cuts to heal. Too many of us are putting the band-aid of our little fantasies on our gaping wounds, when what we really need is the durable truth of God’s Holy Word. The Bible says in Hebrews 4:12, “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” My admonition is simple…Test all your thoughts against the truth of the Word of God. Do not settle for comforting lies when you can be strengthened by the truth.

My Scriptural First Aid Kit…

I was recently asked, “What are your go-to verses for when you’re feeling discouraged?” Below is what constitutes my Scriptural first aid kit. In other words, when I’m feeling the pressure of discouragement, and I feel like hope is bleeding out of me, here’s what revives my soul…

  • When I feel all alone, I remind myself that God is near – “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you'” (Hebrews 13:5).
  • When I feel like I can’t keep up with all the changes around me, I remind myself that God remains constant – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
  • When I feel like everything is so dirty and tainted, I remind myself that God is perfect – “And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory'” (Isaiah 6:3)!
  • When I feel anxious, I remind myself that God brings peace – “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
  • When I feel like there is so much hate in the world, I remind myself that God is love – “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).
  • When I feel the weight and conviction of my sin, I remind myself that God grants forgiveness – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
  • When I struggle with what to do next, I remind myself that God gives wisdom – “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (James 1:5).

This is just a short list, but it’s my Scriptural first aid kit. These are my seven dynamite verses that help me in my time of need. What’s your go-to set of verses?

“5 Warnings To Those Who Merely Pretend To Be Godly” By Tim Challies

There is in each of us a dangerous temptation toward hypocrisy, to be one thing but to pretend to be another. There are many within the church who are hypocrites, people who claim to be Christians but who are, in fact, unbelievers attempting to convince others (and perhaps themselves) that they are followers of Jesus Christ. They are people who do not practice true virtue but who instead offer counterfeit versions of it. Jude compares them to clouds without water in that they seem to be full of the Spirit but are actually devoid of true goodness.

Here are five solemn warnings to those who only pretend to be godly:

Hypocrisy angers God. God hates hypocrisy and hypocrites because hypocrisy misuses religion, taking advantage of its laws and decrees for self-advancement. The hypocrite wants religion—even the Christian faith—only for the advantages he gains from it. He fails to truly turn his heart to God and do good to God’s people. He carries Christ in his Bible, but not in his heart. He serves the devil while wearing the uniform of Christ. He will be condemned by God.

Hypocrisy is self-delusion. Many hypocrites deceive themselves, thinking that their hypocritical deeds are evidence of true godliness or, even worse, that they have the ability to merit God’s favor. The person who collects counterfeit money harms no one more than himself. The person who piles up counterfeit godliness does the greatest damage to his own soul. “The hypocrite deceives others while he lives, but deceives himself when he dies.”

Hypocrisy is offensive to God and man. Unbelievers hate the hypocrite because he makes himself appear godly; God hates him because he merely looks godly. Unbelievers are deceived by his veneer of godliness and hate him for it; God sees through that veneer and hates him for having no more than that. The hypocrite loses on all accounts because he becomes the enemy of unbelievers and of God. “The wicked hate the hypocrite because he is almost a Christian, and God hates him because he is only almost.”

Hypocrisy is pointless. The hypocrite may labor hard in this life, but as soon as he dies he will lose absolutely everything. The only reward he will be able to enjoy will be in this life since he will certainly be condemned in death. He may earn praise today, but he will receive only retribution at the judgment.

Hypocrisy brings no comfort in death. People who have only painted over their depravity with a thin veneer of counterfeit holiness will find themselves without hope and without comfort upon their deathbed. Little holiness leads to little happiness.

Hypocrisy is an ugly sin and one that God despises. Yet still there is hope for the hypocrite and the words of Paul should ring in the ears of the hypocrite: “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). Those who turn to Christ in repentance and faith will be cleansed of every sin, including this one. And then they will be indwelled by the Holy Spirit so they can clean off that thin veneer of holiness and, instead, become truly holy.

As for those of us who truly believe, but still grapple with the temptation toward hypocrisy, let’s pray with Thomas Watson: “Lord, let me be anything rather than a hypocrite,” for two hearts will exclude one from heaven. We may well ask, “What good will it do to a man when he is in hell, that others think he is in heaven?”