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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.