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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
Two warnings for every Christian to heed, number one, don’t use people to satisfy your selfish, lustful agenda, especially with regard to human sexuality.
Loving people is about giving and serving and wanting what is best and doing whatever it takes for their benefit. Lust is about taking and getting and using and abusing and grabbing and satisfying you. Love is about them; lust is about us.
Lust, it’s not loving. Whether you are single or whether you are divorced or whether you’re married and some guy is coming on to you, when any man, anytime, anywhere gives you this line or insinuates that if you really love him, you’ll go to bed with him, know for sure that he does not love you.
He lusts for you. And he can be sweet, and he can manipulate, and he can make you feel very, very special. But what this is about is him and his lust and his desires and you will end up used.
And then notice the second warning is: “Don’t let anyone deceive you into thinking that selfish, lustful, me-centered behavior is compatible with mimicking God and loving people. You can’t compartmentalize. Following Jesus and sexual immorality don’t mix. Following Jesus and being a greedy, self-centered, lustful person don’t mix. Following Jesus and lying at work don’t mix. Saying, “I love God,” and living according to my own selfish desires means I am a hypocrite.
And that is why I hated the Church. And that’s why I hated me. And that’s why many of you hate the Church, and why you hate other people, and yourself. And guess what? You’re right in line with God on this one. He hates it too, because it produces pain and damage and hurt.
Well, he goes on to say, “Therefore” – well, what should we do in light of this truth? “do not become partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but” – here is the good news, “now you are Light in the Lord;” – so here is the command, “walk as children of the Light.”
And if you’re not sure what that means, it says, “For the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” The idea, walk in the Light. You’re a child of the Light. You have a new birth and a new identity.
Walk in goodness. That means benevolence and caring and wanting to do good for others. Walk in righteousness. That means being holy and pure, morally, and in your thoughts and in your mind, and what comes over the screen of the Internet, and what magazines and what books and what shows.
Not some self-righteous, prudey holiness, but a winsome, pure holiness, because your heart is clean and you love God. And then walk in truth. Not only externally speaking the truth and living the truth, but in your motives. And that little phrase, “trying to please the Lord,” the sense there is not, like, trying really hard to please God. It’s a word for testing or a proving of metal. It’s like taking a little bit of acid on metal and dropping it on to find out the level of purity.
And then you put it on and you realize, Oh, this is really pure. This is really good. The idea is proving or demonstrating, when you live in goodness and righteousness and truth, you are approving and demonstrating what is pleasing to God. And it produces awesome peace and goodness in your heart.
Then notice what he goes on to say. He says, “And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;” – we’re going to talk about that in a minute – “for it is disgraceful even to speak of these things, which are done by them in secret.”
God is saying to His people, “You don’t need to be curious about the darkness that goes on behind closed doors. It’s disgraceful even to speak of them, let alone, view them; let alone, joke about them; let alone, actually participate in them, because it is such a contrast with who you really are.”
And so two applications flow out of this for every, single Christian. First, don’t participate in deeds of darkness. Don’t be a hypocrite! Positively: Do practice walking in the Light.
Ask yourself, right now, Does my speech demonstrate walking in the Light, or the deeds of darkness? Does my thought life and my sexual practice demonstrate walking in the Light or deeds of darkness? Does my integrity with my spouse, my friends, at work demonstrate walking in the Light or the deeds of darkness? Does my commitment to my marriage and my children demonstrate walking in the Light or the deeds of darkness? Is how I conduct myself, at work, demonstrate…You got it? Got it?
You do remember the greatest act of hypocrisy that ever occurred, do you remember this one? Ever. Remember? It happened right before Easter. One of Jesus’ twelve closest friends got a few guys with some torches, got a few swords, here’s Jesus in the garden. And here’s Judas, “[Makes kissing noises] Jesus! I’m your follower. I love You, love You, love You!” Do you realize the implications of what it meant to greet a person with a kiss? What was Judas doing? He was coming to Jesus as his Rabbi and Teacher, and communicating his love by his outward action of the kiss.
And the actual kiss was the sign of betrayal and everything he did, externally, actually betrayed Christ. And I like to identify with different people in the Easter story. This is not one of my favorites. But you know what has really helped me to realize? When I say, “I love God, I love Jesus,” and I walk in darkness, welcome to a fellow Judas, right here.
And when you say you love God, “Oh, I know Jesus. I believe in God,” and your lifestyle and your speech and your sexuality and your money and your motives are walking in darkness, welcome to the Judas club. And, see, this is why God so hates hypocrisy.
In fact, he explains, in the very next line, the devastating impact, when I know what is right to do… Now, we’re not talking sinless perfection. We’re not talking about having it all together. We’re talking about knowing what is right to do and living in willful disobedience.
Notice, verse 13, “But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light,” – literally, the word exposed, here, when they are rebuked, when you see them for what they really are – “for everything that becomes visible is light.”
It’s like walking in a pitch-black room and you get a flashlight. The moment you click on the flashlight, what happens? Anything the flashlight is focused on becomes visible. You see it for what it is. In the dark, you don’t know what it is.
Someone could tell you, “Oh this is great, this is wonderful, this is powerful, you’ll love it. You know what? The best sex is over here! You ought to try this! If you have never tried this, give this, smoke this, try that!”
It’s darkness, darkness, darkness, darkness, boom! Someone turns on the light. You mean this could happen to you? You mean this is what will happen to your kids twelve years later? You mean this is what will happen to my body five years from now? You mean this is the psychological damage? Oh my lands!
When you take the light of truth, it exposes things for what they are. “For this reason it says, ‘Awaken, sleeper, arise from the dead, and let the light of Christ shine on you.’” Two things happen – they’re amazing, they’re wonderful, they’re just so powerful – when Christians live in the light 24/7, when I live in the light, and you live in the light, when we are not hypocrites, two things happen. Number one, when believers walk in the light – mimic God, love people – they winsomely expose evil and sin as the ugly agents of death that they are.
I had the privilege of this happening in my life. Exposed. I saw myself for who I was. We did not grow up in a Christian family, but my sister, somewhere in high school, I don’t even know where it happened, she went to this college campus and met some group, I don’t know, Campus Crusade for Christ. Maybe some of you have heard of them. A group of real-life Christians, you know?
And she became a Christian. She didn’t make any big deal about it, she didn’t say anything, she didn’t become a religious “fanatic” in our house. But I lived with this person, who was only a year and three months older than me, which you would expect a little sibling rivalry.
I have never lived under a roof with any person, that I know of, apart from my wife, that has loved me so winsomely. She didn’t say, “Stop doing this, do this, do this.” I didn’t know even what happened to her. All I knew was, I would come in from basketball practice and, man, I would be dead and struggling and I would go to the refrigerator, and she goes, “Oh, go sit down, Chip, I’ll fix you a sandwich.” This was my sister! “Hey, you want a Coke?” “Yeah.” “Hey,” all my friends would be over, and she goes, “Hey, guys, you want me to make you some popcorn?” My friends are going, “Man, who is she?” “She’s my sister!”
You know, I’d be doing my homework and dragging my feet, and she would say, “Chip, can I give you a hand?” “Yeah, thanks, Punky!” I’m telling you, I lived with this person that I just thought, Someday, I want to be like her.
In fact, guys, can I take you, very briefly, to a place that your wives know not of? Male locker rooms in high school and college, go there, come back quickly. The scuttlebutt in the locker room about my sister and her best friend, “Punky,” that’s my sister’s name, “and Tammy are not the kind of girls you want to date. You won’t get anything. They are the kind of girls you want to marry. They are the kind of girls you want to marry.”
And my sister’s life was so, so impactful, it exposed my manipulation and I probably saw that I was such a chameleon because I was living next to this person that, she acted this way with my folks, she acted this way in school, she acted this way with me. She was walking in the light and it exposed me.
I literally remember, you know when, guys, when you’re thinking, I’m really going to do this thing, and it’s not a grey issue. This is wrong and this is bad, and you know it, but it sure looks like fun! You know? And I decide that I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it. And I would think, But what would Punky think? Boy, I would never want to let her down.
You know what that’s called? The power of walking in the light. That is exposing my ugly deception. And then the second things happens: When unbelievers see and interact with authentic Christians, the light of Christ shines upon them and it invites them to turn from the deception of sin and death, and receive God’s love and forgiveness through a relationship with Christ.
When you walk in the light, authentically, not perfectly, when you walk in the light in your home, when you walk in the light at work, when your kids see an authentic marriage where, yeah, you fight, then you make up, and you ask for forgiveness. When people see you living not hypocrisy but a level and significant consistency, empowered by God, it’s like a light, that flashlight, shines on them and they begin to see, “Oh, Christians aren’t a bunch of hypocrites. There may be a lot of them that are. But you’re not.” And the light of Christ shines on them and they say, “There’s hope! You mean I could find forgiveness? I could be loved?”
Do you now see why God hates hypocrisy? When I am not walking in the light, instead of exposing the deeds of others in a winsome, loving, non-self-righteous way, I literally become a barrier to the message of life through Jesus. I become a blind guide, a whitewashed tomb.
I was invited to a camp after my senior year. My scholarship in basketball, it’s not like Ohio State and all these big schools wanted me to come play. They weren’t looking for, five-eleven guards that weighted a hundred and thirty-six pounds. But there were some small schools that were interested.
And my best deal was, “You come make the team; we’ll pay your way.” And so a coach said, “Hey, there are six hundred of the best athletes, they’re going to be at this place – Fellowship of Christian Athletes – I’ll pay your way, it’ll really help you get better.” That’s why I went.
And it was, oh, it was like, What have I done? When you walked in, they gave you a little Bible. I had never read the Bible in my life. Then they gave you this t-shirt, FCA, and something about Jesus. Now, I don’t know about you, I had never said Jesus’ name out loud before. And I looked at this t-shirt and I thought, I’m going to put this on. I am among Jesus Freaks. Oh my lands. What have I done?
And so, it was like, Ew! They’re going to try and brainwash me! These people are weird! You know? And so, then, every morning you were supposed to have twenty minutes where you open the Bible and have this little devotional time. Six hundred athletes on this big lawn on this campus; five hundred and ninety-nine have their Bibles open. And mine is shut and I’m thinking, Man, you know what? You’re not going to manipulate me. I’m not reading that thing.
But every day, someone would teach a little bit out of the Bible, and it made sense. And it was like, Hey, man, someone is reading my mail. I had no idea that, hmmm, hmmm, uh-huh.
So by day number four, I opened it. By day number five, we’re out, and you would play all kinds of sports… Etched in my memory, everyone is coming off the field, they are going in, the wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, at the time, and the fullback for Illinois, were walking off.
And I am this skinny, little, drenched in sweat, guy behind them. And I’ll never forget, this wide receiver put his arm around, in a very masculine way, this fullback, and they were talking issues of the heart I never, ever, in my life, had heard – two men, masculinely – share life and love authentically.
And this fullback was going through some rough times, I could kind of pick up, and then I could hear what this other fellow was talking to him about. And it was, like, arm-in-arm, authentic love.
And I still remember, I can’t tell you how it works, but I remember walking behind them and going, I don’t know what they have, but I want it. I don’t know what it is, but I’m so sick and tired of playing games and being a phony and acting this way. I don’t know what they have, but that’s what I want.
A day and a half later, I was in a room much like this and that fullback sang the Lord’s Prayer and a guy got up on a chalkboard and he said, “Christ died for all of you. He died to pay for your sin and your guilt. And then He rose from the dead to prove it’s true. And you can be delivered from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light by receiving Him as your personal Savior. In fact, today, He’s standing at the door and knocking.
“And if you will hear His voice and open the door of your heart, today, He will come into your life and He will forgive you and cleanse you and He will take up residence and you will have a relationship with God the Father, through Jesus. And the moment you pray, turning from your sin and asking Him to be your Savior, the Spirit of God will come and live inside you. And He will be with you 24/7. And He will give you power, and He will give you peace, and life will not be a rose garden.
“But you will have strength and the power and the presence of the living God every moment, of every day. And, by the way, the moment you would die, you will be ushered into the presence of God, not because you were a good person, but because on the basis of His work on the cross and forgiveness, you became a part of His family.”
And I’d like to say I prayed some big, theological prayer. But I remember thinking, God, I don’t know what it really means to be in Your family, but I know I’m sick and tired of being a phony. And I want to ask You, right now, whatever it means for Jesus to be my Lord and Savior, come into my life.
And even as I was getting there I realized, You know something? There’s some stuff in my life that I probably can’t play some sort of game with God. And I realized, You know something? This is what I need to do and I’ll ask for the strength to take care of some of this stuff that needs to be cleaned up.
Where are you at? Any fellow Judases here who say, “Oh, I love God. Oh, yeah, I’m a Christian”? But if you did a little analysis, do you walk in the light, in your honest moment, here, today, you would say, “No, I’m not walking in the light”?
See, when you don’t walk in the light, fellow believer, the message of Christ, the power of God, what was accomplished on the cross, is nullified. And instead of light coming through you that gives hope to others, you become a stumbling block. That’s why this is so serious.
Notice, as we turn to the final page, what he says. Where do we go from here? He says, “Therefore be careful how you walk,” the word careful, literally, it’s the word see. See into your life, see, examine the issues of life with scrutiny.
“Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men” – people who don’t get it – “but as wise men,” and then, “making the most of the time.” And there are a couple of words in the New Testament for time. One word that means chronology and length of time; one that means time as in a ripe opportunity. That’s this word. Some translations actually say, “redeeming,” or, “buying back the time” – why? “The days are evil.” The days are evil.
People are teaching little kids to put on bombs and blow people up. People are drowning their own children. People are getting in planes and crashing them. People are giving total disregard to their children and to their marriages. We are living in a world that is evil. Light, Christians, children: Walk in love, mimic God, walk in the light so that you may expose sin for what it is and invite others into a relationship of hope and peace.
So the word for believers is, “Walk wisely.” There is so much at stake. Wow. Huge. If there is ever a time for the Church to be the Church and for us, as Christians, to live like Christians, it’s now.
And there’s a word for unbelievers: “Awake, sleeper.” Those of you that are kind of spiritually dead. That’s the metaphor. Awake! Let the light of Christ, this moment, today, shine on you. Cleanse your conscience. Give you assurance of heaven. Turn from the darkness, enter into the light, and let it cleanse and fill and let Christ come in, today, and give you new purpose and meaning and peace. Want to do that? Today is the day.
Father, I want to pray, right now, for my fellow brothers and sisters. And we, first of all, collectively confess that we are hypocrites. It’s just a matter of degrees.
I pray for the kind of courage that gets mustered up inside when the Spirit of God really works and we’re open. That, for my fellow believers that, where there is clear, willful disobedience in areas of speech, sexuality, of thinking, of viewing, and in relationships, Lord, I pray, that right now, we would draw a line in the sand and we would turn from the things that we know are wrong.
And now I pray, God, I pray for those that were just like me when I heard that fullback sing that song and I realized I needed You.
And if that’s you, I’m going to pray a prayer, and obviously praying a prayer is not what builds a relationship with God, but it’s the starting point. It’s the way that you open your life. And if you don’t know what to say, but it’s your heart’s desire, just repeat after me, in your heart of hearts, and God will hear.
Dear God, I need You today. I confess that I am a hypocrite. But today, I want to be free. I believe, Jesus, You died on the cross to pay for my sin. I believe, today, You rose from the dead to prove that it’s true. And right now, I ask You to come into my life, cleanse me, forgive me, save me. Make me Your son. Make me Your daughter.
And I pray for the power, beginning today, to follow You all the days of my life. Thank You, that because You always tell the truth, You have done what I have just asked. In Jesus’ name, amen.