Saturday, August 15, 2009

August 16, 2009

A police officer pulled a driver aside and asked for his license and registration.


"What's wrong, officer," the driver asked. "I didn't go through any red lights, and I certainly wasn't speeding."

"No, you weren't," said the officer, "but I saw you waving your fist as you swerved around the lady driving in the left lane, and I further observed your flushed and angry face as you shouted at the driver of the Hummer who cut you off, and how you pounded your steering wheel when the traffic came to a stop near the bridge."


"Is that a crime, officer?"


"No, but when I saw the ‘Jesus loves you and so do I’ bumper sticker on the car, I figured this car had to be stolen."


Ouch that hurts! It is never fun to get caught being a hypocrite.


A priest was coming back to his rectory one evening in the dark when he was accosted by a robber who pulled a gun on him and demanded, "Your money or your life!"


As the priest reached his hand into his coat pocket, the robber saw his Roman collar and said: "I see you're a priest. Never mind, you can go."


The priest, surprised at this unexpected show of piety, tried to reciprocate by offering the robber a candy bar that he remembered was in his pocket.


The robber replied, "No thank you, Father. I don't eat candy during Lent."


What are we talking about? We are talking about hypocrisy. One of the most commonly leveled objections to the Christian faith is that “All Christians Are Hypocrites” Gross generalizations like “Christians are all hypocrites” are rarely true. In this case, it is very close. As long as there has been faith there has been hypocrisy. That doesn’t make it right, but it makes it real – and a real problem.


Today I want to confront this ugly issue of hypocrisy. I want to show what causes it, why it is so harmful, and what can be done about it.

Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 23.

THE HEART OF HYPOCRISY, Vv. 1-10

A man, returning from a business trip, was met at the airport by his wife. They walked from the gate together and were standing waiting for the baggage to be unloaded. An extremely attractive stewardess walked by. Suddenly, the man came to life. Beaming, he said to the stewardess, "I hope we can fly together again, Miss Jones." His wife asked, "How come you knew the name of that stewardess?" The man replied smoothly, "Well dear, her name was posted up front in the plane, right under the names of the pilot and co-pilot." To which the wife replied, "Okay, so what were the names of the pilot and co-pilot?" BUSTED! The man’s hypocrisy was uncovered.


Hypocrisy can be illustrated by the way we clean house when company is coming - We shove our junk in the closet, stuff it under the bed, etc. where it can’t be seen. Out of sight it doesn’t exist at least to our guests. That is not a horrible way to clean house, but it is terrible way to deal with the spiritual junk in our lives. There is no value to hide our junk from people if God sees it. He is the
one we are to please.


Hypocrisy results from trying to hide our junk and keep it out of view so people won’t think we have junk. But bad things happen when we do that. First, we hide our junk from ourselves and don’t deal with it. Secondly, we have to keep people away from our junk room out of fear of being discovered. That can be a little hard on true relationships. Worst of all, we have to try to keep Jesus from our junk room because of all people, we don’t want Him to see our junk. So, we live guarded lives, never fully honest with ourselves or with others and not fully committed to God.


In these first 10 verses, Jesus points out the hypocrisy of the Religious Leaders of that day. In verse 5 He puts His finger on the heart of the problem, “Everything they do is done for men to see…”


The heart of hypocrisy is the desire to look good and be regarded as good without doing the hard work of becoming good. It is even worse than that because it takes what is supposed to bring glory to God and using it to glorify yourself.


“Hypocrisy” comes from a Greek word “hypokrisis” that referred to an actor playing a part. An actor pretends to be one thing when he is actually another. In the ancient theater the actors often played several characters each, so they would use masks. Whenever they needed to change characters they changed masks.


Are you wearing a mask today? What are you trying to hide?


Do you have a junk room in your heart? Is there some junk that you are hiding from God?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions you are guilty of hypocrisy and it is only a matter of time until you are exposed.


THE HARM OF HYPOCRISY, Vv. 13-38

Some of the harshest words that Jesus ever spoke were directed at the professional religious leaders. In this portion of Scripture we see Him condemning them:

Seven Times He Calls Them Hypocrites
Two Times He Calls Them Fools
Five Times He Calls Them Blind Guides
He Even Called Them A Bunch of Snakes

John Stott said this about hypocrisy: “Hypocrisy is hideous. What cancer is to the body, hypocrisy is to the church. It is a killing agent. Unfortunately, hypocrisy is also addictive. And even though Jesus reserved His most severe words of condemnation for the hypocrite, we still seem to prefer that lifestyle to truth and authenticity.”

Hypocrisy will seriously harm the witness of a local church.


Hypocrisy wears down the workers in a church.


What a deal there is of going to meetings and getting blessed, and then going away and living just the same, until sometimes we, who are constantly engaged in trying to bring people nearer the heart of God, go away so discouraged that our hearts are almost broken. - Catherine Booth. "


Hypocrisy harms the worship in a church.


Hypocrisy harms the fellowship in a church.


Mark Twain once said, “A cat that sits on a hot stove would sit on a hot stove again. But neither will he sit on a cold one.” Once you get burned by hypocrisy, you will have a hard time being vulnerable within fellowship.


Hypocrisy harms the mission of the church. We are supposed to make it easier for people to believe in God, not harder. Which is true of your life?


THE HOPE FOR HYPOCRITES, Vv. 11-12, 25-28


"Luke warmness toward God is hypocrisy at its worst. If I truly believe He’s supreme, I must treat Him as such I must"


True Faith - Matthew 15:8, Jesus said, 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’

In the chapter previous to this, Jesus had told the religious leaders that they should love God with all their heart and all their soul and all their mind……

Jesus says if you want to overcome hypocrisy, get your heart right!

And then He points to the evidence of a heart that is right – Vv. 11-12 – Humble Service.

True Focus – In Verses 25-28, Jesus tells us that we should focus on the inner man not the outer man……….

True Fruit – “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:22-25

You don’t have to fake it! You don’t have to be a phony. You can be free from hypocrisy. By the way, I want you to know that there is a difference between being a hypocrite and being inconsistent. Even when we are Spirit-filled and walking in obedience, our human weaknesses can cause us to be inconsistent. But we are not acting or pretending to be something we are not.


Do you have a junk room in your heart? Are you hiding some junk that you don’t want anyone to know about? Do you ever feel that if anyone found out the truth about you, you'd be finished? Do you go through life basically trying to convince others that you are something you're not—that you're cool when you know you're not, that you're confident or skillful or good-hearted when you know it's not so?


It began with mere barroom bravado; years later it got out of control. Werner "Jack" Genot wanted to be a hero. So, he concocted a story about serving with the Marines and being taken as a prisoner of war during a bloody Korean War battle.


Genot, now 71, is from the small Illinois town of Marengo, where he serves as an alderman. His story grew until the uniform he wore on special occasions became laden with fake medals he had ordered from a catalogue—a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and two Purple Hearts. He would march in parades and talk to schoolchildren. He even got a special license plate reserved for wounded veterans by forging discharge papers.


However, a veteran's league eventually noticed a lack of records on file and numerous factual holes in Genot's military record. It began investigating his claims. For two years, Genot denied the accusations and excused his way around the questions. But he finally confessed his deception in an interview with a local newspaper, claiming that he couldn't stand the fa├žade any longer.
"You can't imagine what I'm going through," he said. "I really didn't know how to shake this demon. But I went to bed with it every night, and I looked at it in the mirror every morning. I don't want to meet my Maker with this on my heart."

Why not come clean on that junk? Why not let God into that room and give Him your junk.


If you have been disillusioned by hypocrisy – look past men to see Christ.

If you struggle with your own tendency to hypocrisy – look past men to see Christ.

August 15, 2009

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8
Is there a more exciting Book in the New Testament than the Acts of the Apostles?
Why is it so exciting? Because it shows the Church at its best! It shows the potential of any group of believers who dare to get real with God. When even a small group of people empty themselves of sin and self-righteousness and allow God to fill them with His Spirit, amazing things can happen! Any church that unites to obey the Great Commission in the power of the Great Commandment will change its world!
Because the Church can be THAT good, hypocrisy is that BAD.
Here is the irony in this whole thing. Hypocrisy is when people who profess to be believers try to act godly. They strive to believe the right things and look the right way seeming to believe that godliness happens from the outside in. But they soon discover that being religious doesn't make you a Christian anymore than living in your garage will make you a car.
So in a very real way can say that hypocrisy is the Acts of the religious. Not a pretty picture. Acting doesn't cut it.
The REAL Acts had nothing to do with acting. This was the real deal. This was God living and loving through single-minded surrendered people. The REAL Acts had nothing to do with religion but had everything to do with relationship. The REAL Acts had nothing to do with self-righteousness and everything to do with Spirit-filled righteousness. The REAL Acts had nothing to do with their actions and everything to do with God acting through them.
Here's the bottom line with the hypocrisy issue - you can have acting OR you can have ACTS!