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About this series
Stop Faking It!
Live Without Hypocrisy
Nobody likes a hypocrite, and nobody wants to be one. But for some reason, living an honest, authentic life is tougher than it sounds. God calls us to walk as "children of light," but many of us find ourselves living shadowy lives of part-time spirituality, and then wonder why our hearts feel cold and our prayers go unanswered. If you'd like to know how to live a winsome, whole and holy life, join Chip Ingram for this series from Ephesians 5.More from this series
If you’re really a brand new person your life will be characterized – you won’t be perfect – but you’ll walk in the light. You will be habitually characterized as a person who is increasingly more holy and increasingly more loving. But the dilemma is that no matter how holy you get this side of eternity, you’re always going to struggle with sin. You’re always going to blow it. Your motives are never going to be one hundred percent pure.
But God has a process. He has a process whereby you’re transformed from the inside out and that process is seeing Him. In fact, it will be epitomized at the moment we see Christ. 1 John 3 told us that we don’t know exactly what it’s going to be like, what we will be like eventually one day, but this is what we know: when we see Him, we will be like Him. And the process of sanctification or becoming more like Christ or becoming more holy and loving is really about, moment by moment, seeing and beholding God for who He is and in that process, the Spirit of God takes that truth and that reality and it transforms us.
On a scale of one to ten, do a little inventory here. A “one” is I feel totally far away from God. When I pray, I don’t think He’s even listening. I’m so far away. And a “ten” is, I can’t imagine a deeper, more intimate, connected relationship with God. On a scale of one to ten, privately voting in your own heart, tell no one else. What are you? How is it between you and God right now? Four? Seven point five? Eight point two? Nine? How is it between you? Next question: when do you talk to Him? How do you talk to Him?
If you said, “Okay, Chip, how long have you been a Christian?” What single thing, what single thing has had more impact, more influence, in transforming your life, to go from who you were, this new babe in Christ, to what God is doing in your life and will continue to do?
What single thing has helped you to live a life, over time, where what you say and what you believe and how you live and how you think and where your real heart and motives are in alignment, living without hypocrisy?”
And I’m going to tell you, bar none, learning to worship God personally on a regular basis has been the most powerful thing to transforming my life. And when I get close to people that walk with God, when I see people’s lives that are really different, when I start poking and probing, I have never found, ever, either in writing or in history or personal experience, I have never found a human being who walks closely with God that is not a person of personal worship. Because they see God daily.
So let’s take a look at personal worship. What is it? Why is it so important? The priority. And then maybe most of all, how do you do it? First, let me give you a definition. Personal worship is the regular and habitual setting aside of all other activities and relationships to give God your undivided attention, focus, and affection. I try and make these definitions very long and very complicated so you say to yourself, “Uh, could you go over that again?” Yes I will.
Now listen carefully to the clauses. Personal worship is the regular and habitual setting aside of all other relationships and activities to give God your undivided attention, focus, and affection.
Put another way, it’s to personally and privately behold Him and to hear from Him and to worship in His presence. Just as we come together as a large group before God, it’s when you privately come before God and worship Him and hear from Him, when you talk to Him, when you share your heart, when you open His Word and He speaks to you, when you talk to Him on behalf of other people. It’s your personal, private worship of the living God.
We sang that song that we breathe His holy presence, living in me. It’s taking time to cultivate that relationship.
And you might say to yourself, Maybe this is the last part of the series and maybe you’re just a little over the top on how important this is. Could it be that important? The most significant thing that has transformed your life?
Let me ask you to look at a couple of passages in terms of the priority of worship, personal worship, the daily, habitual, regular, systematic setting aside of every other relationship and every other activity to meet with God.
Romans 12:1 and 2 says this, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies” – how? “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to Him. This, this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed,” changed, metamorphosized, from the inside out, is the word. How?
“By the renewing of your mind,” as you behold Him, as you see clearly who He is, and then you see the world for what it is, and then you see yourself for who you are. And when your mind is renewed, something occurs. “Then you will be able to test,” or taste or see or prove, is the idea, “what the will of God is,” in your practical experience, “that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Now here’s something very important. Romans chapter 12 follows Romans chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. Pretty cool, huh? Do you know what Romans 1 through 11 talks about? Paul is giving a theological treatise about the Gospel. It’s the clearest book in the New Testament of: This is what God has done for you. Eleven chapters of His mercy, of all that He’s done and the work of Christ and faith and the Spirit’s work and transformation and His game plan for Israel and His sovereignty.
Chapter 12 looks back on all that God has done for you and chapter 12 opens up and asks and answers the question, So, what does God want you to do for Him? And what God wants you to do for Him is to be a private worshipper where, on a regular, systematic basis, you come before Him and you offer you. He wants you. He doesn’t want just your time. He doesn’t want just your money. He doesn’t just want control of your dreams and your agenda. He wants you. He wants me as a living and holy sacrifice.
And, by the way, the tense of this verb, you might mark it in your Bible. It’s at a particular point in time. This isn’t some vague notion of offering God – somehow, some way, someday – your body as a living sacrifice. It’s like going to the altar and making a specific decision and saying, “God, I am Yours – lock, stock, and barrel.” And notice carefully, this is not a salvation passage.
Salvation in Romans occurs in chapters 4 and 5. This is people who know God, who are in a part of His family, who grasp all that God has done and they say, “What God wants most from me is, at a point in time, I dedicate all that I am and all that I have and I’m going to live my life as an act of worship.”
And then look at verse 2. Verse 2 reminds us that it’s not just a one-time deal. “And do not be conformed any longer.” Literally, don’t allow yourself to be conformed any longer to this present world, but allow yourself and your mind to be transformed. How? By the renewing of your mind.
So worship is not only at a point in time where you drive a stake in the ground, but then you renew that day, after day, after day. As you spend time and meet with Him, He renews your mind and little, by little, by little, your life takes more and more of the characteristics of the intimacy of Christ. Have you ever noticed that whoever you hang out with, you become like?
You can tell who your kids are hanging out with, right? They go to school for three or four or five days and they come home saying stuff like, “Yo, dude.” And you’re thinking, “Oh, he’s with the surfer group.”
Have you found that when you hang out with people that, over time, if they talk with their hands, kind of like this, that you find yourself starting to talk with your hands like this?
Whoever you get close to, you begin to take on their characteristics. When you get close to Jesus, when you spend time with Him, when you worship Him, when you do it not only once in the morning or in the afternoon or the evening when the best time is, but as you carry on conversation, when you learn to live in His presence – little, by little, by little – you become like Him.
It was interesting; I’m getting to spend time with a new friend. Actually, I’ve known him for a couple of years, but he’s English and I’m finding myself, in my mind, saying things with an English accent. It hasn’t come out my mouth because I thought it would be disrespectful, but I was actually writing in my journal the other day, and this is classic, I literally wrote this down and then I put a line through it and said, “Ingram, what are you X doing?” I really like this guy and he’s having a very positive impact on my life. And I wrote this in my journal, “The meeting went famously.” The meeting went famously. I’m thinking to myself, “Ingram, what are you doing?”
You know what I’m doing? I’m rubbing shoulders next to a man who walks with God and I’m not only picking up his heart for God, but I’m picking up some of his speech and his mannerisms.
And do you know that when you spend time regularly and behold Him, you will begin to think like Jesus. You’ll begin to respond to people’s pain like Jesus. You will begin to emote like Jesus. Your motives will be more and more like Jesus’. You will begin to be repelled by evil like Jesus. And that’s why personal worship is so powerful. In fact, this is the great command in the book of the New Testament that teaches all that God has done.
Let me give you one other factor. John chapter 15 is the teaching of our Lord on the last night that He is on the earth. He has His closest followers with Him. The Lord’s Supper has been initiated. He knows He’s going to die the next day and these fellows, He knows what’s coming. They’re going to be persecuted and they’re going to be afraid. And whenever they had a question, they could say, “Jesus, could I get a couple of minutes with You?” And He said, “Just a second, I’m talking with John, but, yeah, just a second, Pete. Pete, I said ‘Just a second.’ Okay?” And you could talk with Him and what He knew was that He was going to be gone.
And then He told them that their future was secure, in John 14, and then later in John 16, He describes the ministry of the Holy Spirit. But they don’t know how it’s going to work. It all sounds like mumbo-jumbo. “What do You mean? ‘It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Father will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. When He comes, He will reveal the truth.’” And these twelve guys are like us – eleven then. One had left the room.
And they’re going, “I don’t get it.” And so on the way down from the Mount of Olives, I would assume, He came by a vineyard, and they all knew about it. That was out of their world and out of their life. And He says, “I’m going to give them a word picture. I’m going to give them a word picture that will help them understand how they can have intimacy with Me, how they can be private worshippers, not just at different periods of the day, but all the time.”
And so, in John 15 we read, Jesus says to these disciples, “I am the vine and you are the branches.” The vine is the big source; the branches go out from the vine. “If a man remains or abides in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit.” And they’re looking at that and realize, “Of course, that’s how it works.”
And then He says, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain or abide in Me,” and the word abide or remain here means to hear from God, to receive His words with the purpose of putting it into practice. “If anyone doesn’t abide or remain in Me, he is like a branch that’s thrown away and withers and such branches are picked up and they’re thrown into the fire and they’re burned.”
And then He gives them this promise on the last night before He’s going to die. “If you remain in Me or abide in Me and My words remain and abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given to you. This is My Father’s glory that you bear much fruit.”
When the Spirit is reigning in our hearts, when He’s controlling us, we will bear fruit and the fruit will be the character and the quality of Christ: love and joy and peace and goodness and gentleness and self-control. And He’s telling them there’s going to be an abiding relationship.
And He says, “The Father is going to be glorified or honored.” Glory just means bragging rights, reputation enhanced. “You guys are going to live in such a way, with Me that when people look at your lives and how you love and how you are holy, they’re going to step back and say, ‘Wow, they must have been with Jesus,’ and God gets the credit.”
And then He goes on to tell them, “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Now remain or abide in My love.” Do you notice He’s telling them this personal worship, it’s relational? It’s not mechanical. It’s not read two chapters. It’s not concentrate on God for three minutes. It’s not chant for four hours.
He says, “As the Father has loved Me, as We have been in an abiding relationship, Father to Son, now I want you to love.” Unless they think it’s just some ooey-gooey feeling of having a “Jesus moment,” He goes on to say, verse 10, “If you obey My commands, you will remain, or abide, in My love, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commands and remain in His love.”
Loving Jesus isn’t about having an ooey-gooey feeling in worship or even spending time in the morning and saying, “Oh, God,” and having these good feelings. If what Jesus says about my mind and my motives and my behavior and my relationships doesn’t get translated into my behavior, I can feel like I love Him a lot, but the Bible says I’m not loving Him.
The test of my love for Jesus is, Do I keep His Word? Do I obey Him? And He would say, in the chapter before, “He that has My commands and keeps them, he it is that loves Me and he that loves Me will be loved by My Father.” And then this classic picture, “And My Father and I will come and We will disclose, or reveal, Ourselves to him.”
And so, Jesus is teaching about private worship and there’s going to be this abiding relationship and then He tells them why, this great reason. He says, “I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be made full.”
This is about the overflow of a relationship. So, here’s what I want you to hear. According to the last teaching of Jesus on the earth and according to the most core theological teaching of the New Testament, your abiding, personal worship of Jesus is the most important appointment you have every day. It’s the most important relationship to cultivate every day.
Just as there is the most important corporate meeting we are now in. What we’re doing now is more important than any business meeting coming up this week. It’s even more important than any family meeting because what we do now, we will behold God and as we see Him and worship Him, we will be transformed and a different person will show up at the family meeting and the business meeting and the relationship outside here.
And now, what He’s saying is, there is a private meeting. There is a private appointment that He wants for you and for you and for you and for you and for me where you can behold Him, daily, and as you do, transformation will occur. The purpose of personal worship, put very simply, and you might even jot this down, is to know God and to enjoy Him. It’s to know Him. It’s to enjoy Him. It’s not to earn His favor. There is not a big refrigerator in heaven and if you meet with God four mornings in a row, Gold star for Ingram! No.
When you miss a morning, when you miss an evening, you just miss out. It’s like everyone’s going to Disneyland and you just missed the bus. It doesn’t make you a bad person, but you miss out. It’s like having a date with the person of your dreams and your car breaks down. You don’t get to go on the date. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you loved any less, but you miss out.
The purpose of personal devotion is to know and enjoy God. It’s to cultivate an intimate friendship and trust that results in obedience and affection to such a degree that His life is manifested in and through you to the glory of God. That’s the purpose.