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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
I got as sick as a dog. I can’t remember ever having left the house and then getting so sick. I turned around, went home, literally, went to bed. Just slept all day, then I got up, had a glass of water, then slept. Have you ever have one of those times where you’re sleeping, thinking, praying, dozing, sleeping, thinking, praying, dozing? You know what I mean?
And I just had multiple windows of time where I prayed. And over and over and over and over and over, one verse kept coming to my mind. And it’s Isaiah 30:15. It says, “In rest and repentance you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.” He goes on to talk to Israel and say they were not willing. But in rest and repentance and I thought, Lord, is there a message here, for me? And it wasn’t like it came to my mind two, three, four... I bet thirty times, forty times, you know? Wake up, doze, then pray for a while.
To make a long story short, I figured out the “rest” part was doing what I was doing. But then, after about three or four hours of dozing and rolling and praying, I began to ask God, What about the repentance part? I don’t get it. What is it?
And I laid in bed and I said, Lord, are there areas of my life, are there blind spots that need to be brought into alignment, so that my life isn’t a life of hypocrisy? And then I laid there quietly. Now, I won’t go into all that occurred but I don’t know, if I have had a time where God has more lovingly, more gently, but more pointedly rebuked me.
Things like motives. Things like what you do and why you do them and how you unconsciously view yourself.
How do you overcome hypocrisy in your life? Not just in your thoughts, not just in what is going on inside, but where it gets played out in your speech, in your life, in your motives, in your relationships.
And as we go there, I want you to pull out your teaching handout. We’re going to do some real work tonight, and pull out a pen, if you have it, because we’re going to need to really do some deep thinking, because when we’re going to ask and answer the question – how to overcome hypocrisy in your life – it raises some pretty fundamental questions. And we’re going to have to do some pretty deep research.
And so I have put it for you, what I call “A theology of hypocrisy.” In other words, if I hate to be a hypocrite, and God doesn’t want me to be a hypocrite, okay, you got that? If God has given me the power of the Holy Spirit, dwelling in me, as a believer, and the same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in me, then why do I still struggle with sin? Why do I still do what I don’t want to do? Why are there times, that before I can even react, I hear stuff coming out of my mouth that makes me look a lot better than is true, and then I’ll be walking away and just realize, Why did you say that? Has this ever happened to anyone else?
So what I want to do is I want to give you some teaching, I want to give you a theology. You need to understand why that happens, because until you do, you won’t be able to apply the solution that God is going to give us.
Notice in my theology of hypocrisy, number one, there’s a fact. The fact is, “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things pass away; behold, new things have come.” When a man or a woman places their faith in Jesus Christ, you become a brand new creation. You are a new person. Got that? That’s a fact.
Second, we have the evidence. When this actually occurs, notice what 1 John 1:5 to 7 says. It says, “God is light; in Him there is no darkness. If we claim we have fellowship with Him,” God, “yet walk in darkness, we lie and we do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” New life always produces a new lifestyle.
People can go to a camp, they can read a religious book, they can come to this church and say, “I prayed to receive Christ,” and if there is no evidence of any change in their life, what you know is something didn’t happen. Brand new creatures in Christ have new lifestyles. But now we have a problem. There’s a dilemma.
Many of us have seen God change our lives significantly. I’m a new creature in Christ, I want to walk in the light, but I have this dilemma. How come, even as a child of God walking in the light, I step into the darkness now and then? Notice what the very next verse says in 1 John. Look at verse 8, the dilemma. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
The new life does not mean that we never sin. It’s not sinless perfection. The new life does mean, one, we have a relationship now with God, through Christ. It does mean our sins are forgiven, it does mean we have the power not to sin, but it doesn’t mean that we are sinlessly perfect. It means a radical change has occurred, we are a brand new creature, but now we are living in this fallen world.
The Spirit of God has come in; we have been pulled out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son, the kingdom of light; transformation occurs; but now there is a battle going on. And you don’t live perfectly every day, and I don’t live perfectly every day, and no one does, nor will anyone ever do that.
But progressively, your life will be transformed into ever-increasing degrees of Christ-likeness and love and kindness and holiness. Where is the battle? The battle is, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that,” listen to this, “you may not do the things that you please.”
The Holy Spirit produces a holy life. But your flesh, my flesh, those innate desires that are drawn toward a fallen world – to lust, and for greed, and to take, and to be selfish – those two things are always battling one another. And so, you are this brand new creature, you have been transformed, you’re in a process of being transformed, but you are also in the midst of a battle.
Now, the final thing I want to ask and answer is, so, how does the transformation occur? How do you really change? Is it about trying hard? Is it going to church? Is it becoming religious? How does real change occur from the inside out, authentically, so that what you say and your motives, and how you act, and how you behave line up significantly? Perfectly? No. Not until Jesus comes back or you go get to see Him.
But not a life where you say, “I love God, I care for people,” and you cheat and you lie and you do things you know are wrong, and you project something that is this but it’s really that.
Notice the final part of our theology of hypocrisy is the process. 1 John 3:2, very interesting passage. It says, “Beloved, we are now children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be.” Okay? We have been born again into God’s family and we don’t know, because no one, none of us have made it to heaven. And we don’t know what we are going to be. “But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him,” – why? “because we shall see Him just as He is.”
Theologians sometimes call this the beatific vision. What they mean is the moment that you see Christ, face-to-face, in that instant, you will be transformed to be like Him. Notice how the process occurs, 2 Corinthians chapter 3, verses 17 and 18: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,” – notice it’s a process – “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
And I wish we had time to study that, you can do it on your own. Put a little check mark at 2 Corinthians 3. It’s the contrast between the Old Covenant or the Old Arrangement, and the New Covenant. And in the Old Covenant, Moses, remember? He would meet God face-to-face. What happened to Moses when he met God face-to-face? What happened to his face? It would shine, because it was in the presence of God.
Anytime you get near and you meet God, authentically, whatever He is like begins to transform and make you like Him. So Moses would come down, and he would blow people away, and they would go, “Whoa,” and so he put this little veil over his face so that he could talk to them. Now, here’s what he did. He became a hypocrite.
After a period of time, out of the presence of God, the glow would start to go away, and Moses would go out and talk to people. So guess what he did? He put the veil up to pretend that he was still glowing underneath. You know what that’s called? Hypocrisy!
Now, the New Testament writer says, “But we,” – New Testament saints, because the Spirit of God lives within us – “but we, with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror,” not perfectly, but “as in a mirror the glory of the Lord,” who He really is, “are being transformed” – how? “from glimpse to glimpse, from glory to glory just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
That is the theology of hypocrisy. And so, what you understand is the fact is you are a new creature if you’re in Christ. The evidence is a lifestyle of change. The dilemma is you still sin. The battle is the flesh against the Spirit. And the process is, are you ready for this? The process is, by whatever means God has ordained, the more you get to see Him, engage Him, experience Him for who He really is, to that degree you will be transformed and conformed to the image of Christ.
Do you know what God’s means and plan for you to see Him is? Well, then turn the page and I’ll tell you! Worship is God’s antidote for hypocrisy. What happens when you worship? You encounter God. Christ is lifted up. You sing songs that have content, that talk about His character and His love and His holiness, and about His program, redemption, and love and reconciliation.
When you worship, whether it’s corporately, or whether it’s privately, or whether it’s moment-by-moment driving the car – when you worship and encounter God and see Him for who He is, through the life of a person, through reading His Word, by singing songs of praise, or by meditating on truth – when you see God, you will become like Him.
And when you become like Him from the inside out, guess what happens to hypocrisy? It fades away. Let’s look at our core text: Ephesians chapter 5, verses 15 to 21. Let me read it in the context so that we remember this whole passage is about how we live, how we walk, our behavior, our lifestyle.
Verse 15 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live,” or walk, “not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity,” – why? “because the days are evil.” Children of light need to live like light and salt in an evil day. “Therefore don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Well, what is His will? Two verbs, they are both commands. Negatively, the Lord’s will is: “Don’t get drunk on wine,” – why? “it leads to debauchery.” It leads to a lifestyle that is ungodly, painful, brings hurt to you, and ruins God’s reputation.
The second verb that is a command, well, what is God’s will if it’s not to get drunk on wine? “Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” What does that mean? To be filled means to be controlled. Right. He has control over your life. Two commands, two verbs, then four participles. Remember, in English? Participles are “-i-n-g” words and they coordinate with the main verbs? So if you are filled with the Spirit, you’re going to be speaking, singing, giving thanks, and submitting.
“Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs; singing and making music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus. Submit,” or literally, it’s “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Worship is God’s primary means of allowing us to see Him, significantly, but not perfectly. You know what I mean by that? Significantly, but not perfectly. When you worship God, because you are fallen, we are going to see Him in a mirror or darkly. But we can see Him significantly and accurately. Worship is God’s primary means of allowing us to see Him for who He is and, thus, be progressively transformed into His likeness.
After we are told to be filled with the Spirit, those four participles, three of the four are going to talk about – what? Worship. It’s going to talk about speaking. When do you speak psalms and hymns and spiritual songs? When do you do that? When you worship. When do you sing – was it really hot today? This is usually a very intellectual group that is really savvy and you’re giving me that, you know? And I’m not even talking as fast as normal!
When do you sing and make melody in your heart toward the Lord? When you worship! Very good. Okay? What is occurring, whether you are privately in your devotions or whether it’s in a worship service, or whether you are singing a song of thanks or whether you are driving in the car or whether you are reacting, even to a difficult situation when, under your breath you are saying, “Thank you, Lord, in things and for everything.” What are you really doing then? You’re worshipping.
I want to suggest that this passage gives us three modes to see God through worship. Three specific ways. The first we’re going to look at is corporate worship. The second we are going to look at is personal worship. And the third thing we are going to look at is what I call “Practicing the Presence of God” worship.
So let’s dig in. Let’s talk about corporate worship, here. Corporate worship comes out of verse 19, the first portion, where we speak, there is fellowship, songs, hymns, spiritual songs.
My definition for corporate worship is: the regular gathering of God’s people to meet and powerfully experience God in order to ascribe to Him the glory, the focus, and the rightful place in their hearts that He holds in the universe. Now, that’s kind of long so let me say it again. It really was long, wasn’t it? Corporate worship, now think about this, though. Corporate worship is the regular gathering of God’s people to meet and experience God. Why? So that we can ascribe to Him the glory and the focus and the rightful place in our hearts that He already holds in all the universe. You get it?
You think it’s a priority? You think corporate worship is just something that is kind of nice? A suggestion thrown in there? How important do you think corporate worship is to God? Notice the text here. Hebrews 10:24 and 25. It says, “And let us consider how to spur one another on toward love and good deeds, and let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as is the habit of some, but let us encourage one another – all the more as we see the Day approaching.”
We are commanded in Scripture, as believers, to gather and come together, to spur. It’s a very strong word. To spur, to ignite, to challenge, to inspire, to instruct, to engage one another to love and good works, coming together as the body of Christ, to worship God. It’s a very high priority to God.
Notice Psalm 27:4, an Old Testament picture of this. Think of David. One of the wealthiest men in the world. He had it all. Powerful warrior, musician. And if you asked David, in a personal, sixty-minute interview, “David, what is the one thing that is most important to you? Is it all your armies? Is it all your wives? All your concubines? All your treasures?” And David would say, “One thing, one thing I have asked of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”
Why? What does David want to do when he comes to the house of the Lord, the synagogue in those days, when he draws near with God’s people, what does he want to do and why? What does it say? “…to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”
Are you starting to get this idea? See, unveiled faces, behold, gaze, the beauty of the Lord – are you starting to get what corporate worship is all about? It’s God’s people coming together regularly, systematically, to meet God, to see Him for who He is, and then to ascribe the glory and the focus and the rightful place in your heart that He already holds in the universe.
Huge priority. The purpose is to behold God and to see Him. The purpose is to recalibrate your soul. Do you find that when you come and worship that it does that? Do you find that your soul, what’s that old song? You know how our hearts are prone to drift, prone to wander? When you come and see God, when we sing, when we get into the Scriptures together, when we fellowship with one another, we behold God. It recalibrates your soul, and gives you perspective about what is important, and who you are, and how much you are loved, and that God is sovereign and good.
And you need to remember that, as we see all the things happening in the world. That’s the purpose of corporate worship. It’s to encounter and experience Him.
And then, are you ready for this purpose? It’s so that you can come to give your offering. See, the word worship literally means to ascribe worth. We have almost lost this in our day. We unconsciously think that worship is a place to come and either get something or to be entertained or to be motivated. We have just, sort of, fallen into it.
But when you would come before any king, at any time, in any country, in almost any culture in the world, you came in homage, number one, and you were privileged to get to have access, few people ever did, and you could never come to a king unless you brought – what? An offering!
The reason we come together and ascribe and give Him the place in our hearts that He holds in the universe is so that we get to offer something to Him. He made it all, He is all, He is all-powerful, He knows all, He is the sovereign of the universe, but He chose you and He loves you and He has a relationship with you. And what do you do with people that you love?
A deep friend, what do you end up doing? You give them gifts. What do you do with a mate? Don’t you even have birthdays? What do you do for your kids? You want to give them an offering. You want to express your love. So what offering does God want? He wants you.
The first thing and foremost He wants, when we come to worship, He wants you to come so mentally prepared that you are not asking, I wonder who is preaching. I wonder if they are going to sing the kind of songs I like. You’re coming prepared to say, This is the most important meeting of the week, and I am going to, first, offer myself to God. And then I’m going to offer my gifts to God. And I’m going to offer my heart to God, and my affections to God, and I’m going to recommit my body to God, and my time to God, and my money to God. And I’m going to say to God, “Who am I to get to come before the King of the universe? I worship You, I thank You, I ascribe worth and value, I bring all that I have and all that I am, and I bow in reverence before You and I exalt You in my heart, as You are exalted in all the universe.”
That is the purpose of worship. Is that how you think about it? How do you practice that? How do you practice that kind of worship? Well, one thing it says, it says to speak psalms. Those are Old Testament truths that give us a sense of God’s character. So we understand who we are bringing these things to. It says, “hymns,” those are actually New Testament, that we find a few of them in the New Testament, in that day, and we have now hymns of today.
Hymns tend to be more doctrinally oriented that tell us who God is and what He has done. And then there are spiritual songs. And you have people coming up with a lot of different ideas because we don’t have any definition in the Bible of a spiritual song. But a spiritual song is like Mary’s response or the response of Deborah after the battle. Or the response of Moses, God even gave him a song and He said, “Put this down in words, and we had this great battle, and sing this song.” So in your experience you remember the good things God has done so that you can worship and ascribe value and glory to Him.
And so a spiritual song can be something that someone else has written, it can be something that spontaneously comes off your lips. But they tend to be more experiential. They tend to tell us what God has done in our life and our experience, whereas the psalms and the hymns tend to be more doctrinal, more focused on truth.
Now, corporate worship, then, needs to be God-centered, it needs to be Word-centered – notice: psalms, hymns, spiritual songs have to do with truth. And then there is something interesting, here. Music plays a vital role. It plays a vital role. There is something powerful, God created music. I don’t get it. But there is something powerful about taking the truth of God and the Word of God and the person of God and wrapping it in music, because music does something beyond the cerebral, music does something down in your soul, down in your heart, and allows you to express something in a way that I can’t get my arms around. I can’t do that on my own.
When we sang, tonight, “Let everything, let everything, let everything give praise to God. If we could know how much You’re worth, Your power, Your might, Your endless love,” and I don’t know, something just happened inside of me and I just went, Whoo. And this group served me so I could draw near to the throne of God and see who He was. That is a part of God’s dynamic of worship.
Now, I have a question for you and then I want to practice this, okay? The question I have is, and just brace yourself, there is no little dig coming, but it is very convicting, okay? And I want you to think seriously. How do you prepare for the most important meeting that you have all week? You have the opportunity, at least once a week, to come before the King of the universe, who sent His Son to die for you, who loves you, who is sovereign, who is good, and has commanded you to gather together regularly and systematically.
How do you personally prepare your heart, your life, your schedule, your family, the offerings that you are going to bring? How do you prepare for the most important meeting of any week, that has the power to let you see God for who He is, completely recalibrate your soul, and transform your life? Because as you see Him – what? You become like Him.
Do you prepare for weekly worship with the same level of intensity and planning as a good movie? When there is a really hot movie, you get your tickets in advance, right? And how many people come to a movie, a really hot one, a great one, like, ten or fifteen minutes late? Who cares if you miss the beginning of the movie, right? Or do people come twenty or thirty minutes early and stand in line to make sure you get a good seat? Interesting, isn’t it?
Do you prepare to meet God with the same level of intensity that, if you had a very hot date, for those of you that are single? I mean, a hot date, like, Man, hey. You think about it; you plan out what you wear; you plan out what you’re going to smell like; you plan out where you’re going to go; you think about how much it’s going to cost; you’re going think about how you’re going to try, in a good, positive, Christian way to impress her, or him. This may sound trite, but what if you got a call? And you come home tonight and there’s – beep – message. “Hi, I’m the Secretary of State, like to have a meeting with you.” So, how would you prepare for that? You have fifteen minutes to tell him anything you want. “I don’t know, I’ll put it on notecards while I’m waiting in the outer office. I don’t know, you know?” Do you see where I’m going?
If you had a major deal, a multi-million dollar deal, and you were going to get a good percentage of it, how do you prepare for those major deals when you walk in the room to do the negotiations? When you go to a job interview that could be the job interview of your life and this could be the job that could take you over the top, how do you prepare for that?
I jotted down a few words that come to my mind. I get really mentally prepared, I think about it during the week and the night before, I have an attitude that I come with to all those situations – very clear. I’m punctual.
I have focus, and I have clear expectations. Do you worship God with expectation, focus, punctuality, and with an attitude that you now have the opportunity to meet with the most important person you will ever meet that has the greatest power to transform your life? Is that how you worship? And if not, could I suggest that if you begin to approach worship in that way, what you take home would be a different person than you brought in, because you would meet God, in a deeper, more powerful, profound way?
So we came in, we sang a couple, or three songs, didn’t we? Does everyone have a little bit different focus of who God really is? Would you like a redo? Would you like to stand with me now and say, “I would like to sing some songs thinking about who I am really talking to now. I would like to, my soul has been soberly recalibrated.” And, do you notice the little metaphor here: drunk? Sometimes, people, when they are drunk in love or when they are drunk on alcohol, they are a little less inhibited. It’s amazing how inhibited we are in worship and how desperately we are afraid of what other people will think of us.