“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?”

Pray For Persecuted Christians In Iran…

Every Wednesday night from 6:30pm – 7:30pm, we gather out here on the prairie for Prayer Meeting. During this hour, we take some time to learn about persecuted Christians from around the globe. Yesterday (5-19-21), we took a spotlight to the country of Iran. Below is one story from one of our persecuted sisters in this closed access country. Her name is Esther…Please pray for Esther and her family as they struggle to love Jesus and serve Jesus in difficult and dangerous situations…

“If We Love God Most, We Will Love Others Best” By Jon Bloom

The most loving thing we can do for others is love God more than we love them. For if we love God most, we will love others best.

I know this sounds like preposterous gobbledygook to an unbeliever. How can you love someone best by loving someone else most? But those who have encountered the living Christ understand what I mean. They know the depth of love and breadth of grace that flows out from them toward others when they themselves are filled with love for God and all he is for them and means to them in Jesus. And they know the comparatively shallow and narrow love they feel toward others when their affection for God is ebbing.

There’s a reason why Jesus said the second greatest commandment is like the first: if we love God with all our heart, we will love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37–39). It functions like faith and works; if we truly have the first, the second naturally follows.

But if God is not the love of our life, there is no way that we will truly love our neighbor as ourselves. For we will love ourselves supremely.

He First Loved Us

The reason we will love others best when we love God most is that love in its truest, purest form only comes from God, because God is love (1 John 4:7–8). Love is a fundamental part of his nature. We are only able to love him or anyone else because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). We are only able to give freely to others what we have received freely from him.

And as God’s image-bearers (Genesis 1:26), we are designed to love God and others in the same way that God loves God and others. God, being the most pure, perfect, powerful, and precious entity in existence, must love himself most in order to love everything else best, since everything else is “from him and through him and to him” (Romans 11:36). If God loved something or someone else more than himself he would be violating the first commandment (Exodus 20:3) and the foremost commandment (Matthew 22:37–38). For God to love something or someone more than himself would be inappropriate, perverted, immoral. Like God, we must love him supremely in order to love everything else best.

The Horrible Result of Not Loving God Most

When we (or anything else, if that’s possible) become our supreme love instead of God, love becomes distorted and diseased. Love ends up devolving into whatever we wish for it to mean.

This is a great evil, greater than we often realize. This is the world as we know it: everyone loves in the way that is right in his own eyes. Which of course means that everyone hates in the way that is right in his own eyes. They become supreme “lovers of self” (2 Timothy 3:2) and live “in the passions of [their] flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind,” since they were “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). It is not hard to understand why there is so much confusion and conflict and heartbreak and violence in the world. We live in an anarchy of love resulting in much of the horrifying things we hear in the news.

The Greatest Love Ever Shown

But God, being rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4), “so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The author and perfecter of love, Love himself, stepped into our horrible evil anarchy to redeem us (Romans 5:8), his people, and give us new life (Ephesians 2:5), and transform us from children of wrath back into children of God (John 1:12) who are able to love him supremely and therefore love each other rightly — the way he has loved us.

And how has he loved us? With the greatest love there is, the love that moves one to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). But this doesn’t mean that Jesus loved us, his friends, more than his Father. It means that Jesus loved us best because he loved his Father most (John 17:26Mark 14:36). And “if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).

What May Be Our Most Loving Act Today

So we see that if we love God most, we will love others best.

I find this to be a convicting and uncomfortable truth: How we love others, particularly other Christians, reveals how we love God. The apostle John puts it bluntly: “He who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen (1 John 4:20). Our love for each other is an indicator of the place God is holding in our hearts.

God is very good at designing things this way: our faith is revealed by our works (James 2:18), our creeds are revealed by our deeds (Luke 6:46), and our love for him is revealed by our love for others (1 John 4:20). He makes it very hard for us to fake it. And this is a great kindness (Romans 2:4).

Since the greatest and second greatest commandments are involved in these things, we know they are important to God. So perhaps the best thing we can do today is take an honest, lingering look at the way we love others, allow what we see to have its Philippians 2:12 effect on us, and ask God what he would have us do in response.

We may find that this is the most loving thing we will do for everyone else today.

From the Desk of the Associate: A Renewed Mind

I recall a conversation I had with a coworker at a new job. We had a lot of drive time together so I attempted to get to know him and his life better so I could introduce the Gospel into his life. He shared that he was not religious at all but had begun to ask questions about God. On the other hand, he said his girlfriend and her mom were very religious. He said that his girlfriend had a tattoo of Romans 12:2 “Be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Now found this to be very ironic considering what I already knew about his and her lifestyle, partying and sleeping together. I wanted to get to the point where I could have a Bible Study with him and even her at some point. Unfortunately, I was not given that opportunity as he quit that job the next week and did not respond to my communication very much after that. Obviously, the girlfriend had a serious disconnect with what the verse that she had tattooed on herself really meant. I would say that we too often have a real disconnect with what it means to have a renewed mind. Let’s see if I can shed a little light on this concept so that it is more than an empty platitude.

Over and over again we find this concept of a renewed or transformed mind in the Scriptures. This is an idea that relates to our sanctification process, that is the process that God uses to help our actions progressively come into conformity with our Holy position in Christ. Put another way, God accepts me “Just as I am” when He saves me, but He never leaves me “Just as I am,” as He is desirous that I grow in godly living. So where do we learn about a renewed mind? Let’s take a look at some of Paul’s letters and it will quickly become apparent that this is a repeated theme in his teaching.

For starters, lets observe some contrasts in mindsets. We already mentioned Romans 12:2. Here we are told that the believer should actively avoid the default position that the world is trying to press on us. We need to be transformed into something different by a completely different way of thinking. In Romans 8 we know that a mind set on things of the flesh is one that cannot be at peace with God because a mind of the flesh leads to death but a mind set on the Spirit leads to life and peace. This connects to Galatians 6:8 where Paul says he who sows to the flesh will from the flesh reap corruption and he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. In Colossians 3:2 we read, “Set your mind on things above and not on things on this earth.” We can see over and over again that if we want to change our actions, we must first change what we think about. We have to train our minds to follow the truth and to not follow our flesh. How do we do that?

Let us look at what we can do to have a renewed mind that will result in renewed actions. First, I want to point out that all of us are born in sin and corruption and left to our own natures we will always have minds set on the flesh. It takes the Spirit of God breathing life into our dead souls for us to even be able to grasp the truth of God. In John 3 Jesus says, “unless one is born of the water and by the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” God has to first send His Spirit into our hearts and sprinkle our eyes with clean water before we can accept Him. That is when the sanctification process begins. Because, even though we are already a new creation because of our position in Christ, we still have the indwelling flesh within us. That is why Galatians says that the Spirit is at war with the flesh. So again, what can the believer do to have a new mindset that leads to godly actions?

This is the answer, Colossians 3:10 says we must be renewed in knowledge of our Savior and Creator. In order for us to imitate something or rather someone, we must know a lot about them. An actor who is to study a real-life character must study that person in every detail, learning their unique quirks and mannerisms so as to make the imitation believable. In a much greater way, if we want to imitate Christ, we must study Him to the highest degree possible. This is the job of every Christian. It is not just for pastors to learn what Christ is like but for all of us. So, what are some practical ways we can have a renewed mind? Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…” Literally the Word needs to live inside us. This is an idea that the Word wakes up inside us, and goes to sleep inside us, eats its meals inside us. We are the primary residence of the Word. We are not the vacation home or the weekend getaway spot where the Word visits us on Sunday then goes back to its regular home during the week. It should live in us continually. This means we read it daily, we memorize it, we pray it, we sing it. In addition, we teach it and are taught it by others in our local church. What do you think it means when the same verse says, “teaching and admonishing one another?” We are to learn the Word in the context of other believers.

Believer, are you struggling to live a life that is dominated by the Spirit and not the flesh? Why not start taking advantage of God’s common means of grace, God’s Word and God’s people? If you want a renewed mind, it is impossible to do this without the means that God has blessed us with. Just like my coworker and his girlfriend were clearly not possessing a renewed mind, so I fear many so called Christians have abandoned the regular means of God’s grace and wonder why they do not have victory over sin and the flesh.