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Posts Tagged ‘hypocrisy’

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You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. ~Exodus 20:7

The third command God gave to Israel has to do with how we represent Him as His people.

Taking God’s name in vain starts in the heart.  It is not just about saying curse words alongside Our Father’s Name.  It is that, but it is not merely that.  Taking God’s name in vain also includes religious hypocrisy, breaking vows or promises to God, and flippancy in regards to His Holy Name.

Firsty, hypocrisy.  When we wear the name of God as our identity, titling ourselves, “Christian,” we have a great responsibility to live up to that name.  This, because it is His name we bear, not our own.  We bear it only because of His grace.  By hypocrisy, we grossly misrepresent him, thus taking his good name in vain.

Think of a team.  If I wear the jersey and am given the great privilege and benefit that goes with being a professional athlete, but I choose to skip the games because I am busy doing something unrelated, how long will I have the title?  What if I help the other team while on the field?  Or say I’ll make the next play but do my own play instead and miss the shot entirely because of my own selfishness?

That is what Christians do when we claim the title and hope for the privileges and benefits (blessings and salvation) yet fail to obey the things we claim to believe and preach to others.  It is vain worship; vain religion, as Matthew Henry calls it saying, “Those that name the name of Christ, but do not depart from iniquity, as that name binds them to do, name it in vain; their worship is vain, their oblations are vain, their religion is vain.”

Secondly, taking God’s name in vain has to do with breaking vows and promises we have made to him.  Think about it.  If I tell you, “I promise,” to do thus and so without any intention to follow through or concern when I fail to deliver, it is not only personally injurious to you, but also careless and disrespectful.  This is an area where many fall into a works-based mentality and works religion.

Instead of keeping promises in obediences to God and obeying His Holy Word, instead of admitting and confessing their sin and trusting in Him to pardon, humans will try to “make up” for their failure and fault by doing something else.  Good works is how we term those things.  The problem is that good works are only truly “good” if they are done out of a right motive.  Making up for disobedience is not a right motive.  That is called manipulation and God will not be manipulated by men.  These works are vain and they take God’s name in vain.

This is what the term “penance” refers to.  Paying penance can be paying actual money in an effort to be absolved or forgiven for a sin or it can be a myriad of other good works down IN PLACE OF true repentance, asking forgiveness, and honest reconciliation after a fault.

Matthew Henry notes, “By covenant-breaking – if we make promises to God, binding our souls with those bonds to that which is good, and yet perform not to the Lord our vows, we take his name in vain, it is folly, and God has no pleasure in fools, nor will he be mocked.”

Thirdly, taking God’s name in vain is that which we all commonly know it to be.  Using God’s name as a cuss work, or swearing by it, or in any way that dishonors him.  This is something many who label themselves by His name consider acceptable.  Even a simple man can see that by doing so we not only dishonor Him, but also ourselves.  How foolish.

Lastly, we can take God’s name in vain by using it flippantly and without regard for His honor.  Terms like, “Oh my God,” “Sweet baby Jesus” “OMG” or any use of God’s name that lacks the authority and honor due Him is a sin as forbidden in this third commandment.

The second part of the verse is just as noteworthy as the first.  Not only are we forbidden to take God’s name in vain, we are warned of punishment if we disobey in this area.

While we are busy justifying and excusing this sin because it is so prevalent in our world today and we are so dull to the scripture’s command and warning, God is promising a severe penalty for it.  He says this, “…the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” 

God cannot lie.  He said he will not hold us guiltless for this act of disrespect.  God will avenge those who take his name in vain.  He is not a passive father who does not mean the things he says.  If a warning is present in the scripture and it is directed at His people and not the world – His people would do well to pay attention and reconsider what we accept and excuse on a daily basis.

Amen.

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In conclusion in his letter to the Galatians, Paul gives his last and final warning regarding false teachers there.

See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. 14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. ~Galatians 6:11-15

Paul again sites the men who were trying to lead and sway the church toward their own selfish interests and ideas.  He again describes them as externally focused, cowardly, hypocritical, and full of boasting.  Let’s consider those ugly attributes for just a moment.

Externally focused.  You’ve met leaders like this.  They are the ones obsessed with counting attendance; crunching numbers; building bigger.  They love talking about all the work they are doing and telling you about all the work you ought to be doing for God.  (‘Cause what Jesus called you to do just ain’t good ’nuff bro.)  They like publicity.  They like pats on the back.  They’re the ones telling everyone besides their elite carbon copies that they are likely outside of grace lest they all conform and work diligently on…you guessed it…their vision.  Beware, says Paul, teachers whose emphasis is on work, duty, and things such as numerical growth from the brethren above grace, mercy, and love of the brethren.

Cowardly. These men did not want to suffer for the gospel.  Let’s face it, no one likes to suffer, but, these guys were willing to compromise anything and everything necessary as far as truth goes in order to stay “safe.”  They loved their reputations.  They loved their positions.  They loved their names, their titles, and their social statuses.  Therefore, they had to compromise the truth in order to please men, look righteous, and play both sides of the fence.  Anyone who would challenge the validity or veracity of their false teachings or practices became their enemy.  Hence, the attitude of social and spiritual exclusion.  

Hypocritical.  These are the guys who point out every letter in the law for every single soul but themselves.  “Do this.  Don’t do that.  If you do; if you don’t, you are demonic and damnable…”  They not only fail to recognize humanity for who we are (Christian or not), but also fail to recognize the darkness and deceit of their very own hearts as well.  There is no grace.  There is no hope.  There is only judgement, disgust, and self-righteous condescension towards those they claim to seek to lead.  Oh, the damage done by men so blind and barbaric!  Jesus saves sinners.  It is the sick that he heals.

Boastful.  These men used their external works and rule-keeping logs as a badge of honor and boasting in the church.  They never sinned…publicly.  They never admitted their own failures.  They never confessed.  They only kept lists of all the great things they did according to their own rule-books.  The whole point of encouraging others to follow was for the sake of their own pride and boasting over more of the same works, not for the glory of Jesus Christ or the gospel. 

You know what Paul says about their externally focused, cowardly, hypocritical, boastful religious works??? You know what he says about his own works?  

For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.

They count for NOTHING! Nothing!  Paul wants his brothers and sisters to see who they are in Christ, not who someone else that clearly doesn’t even love them at all expects them to be.  Funny, he doesn’t mention anything about their outward condition.  No.  But he calls them new.  Bought and owned by a God of peace; of mercy; of grace.  Instead of telling them how they ought to suffer, he encourages them with his own suffering.  He offers a farewell bent on grace and love.  

For a guy who was thoroughly troubled and frustrated with his church, this is a remarkable sort of love letter.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit, Paul has truly given us a work of grace in this short epistle to the Galatian church.  Amen.

 

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Paul makes a third argument to prove his very important point to the Galatians.  He speaks of a dispute he had with Peter in Antioch.

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” ~Galatians 2:11-14

Antioch was where one of the chief churches of the Gentiles was located.  Peter had been a Jew.  He had been sent to minister primarily to the Gentiles.  Some Jewish Christians had come to visit and Peter (Cephas) decided to throw off his true convictions to save his reputation with his old buddies.  He became intimidated and afraid around these guys.  Chances are, he didn’t want to look unspiritual…because…by golly he was as spiritual as they come.  He was the Rock, remember?  He didn’t want to be judged negatively by them.  He was worried about how his old culture might perceive him if he went against their mistaken rules and practices.  He cared a little…no a lot too much what these guys thought.  He was putting on a show, and, in so doing, he was denying the very ones to whom he was sent the very gospel for which he was sent.  

Paul confronts Peter on the basis of hypocrisy.  Note, their previous interaction had been pleasant and ended on good terms.  This was not a personal issue.  It was a gospel issue.  It was not about Peter or Paul.  It was about the purity of the truth.  Paul knows that this is a hill he has to die on.  

Also note that Paul is not in any way intimidated by Peter – the Rock whom many hold to be most superior on the hierarchical scale of the early church.  Peter wasn’t a pope.  He was a man and sometimes men make mistakes.  Only God is infallible.  In light of that, we can deduce that, when sin is public, brothers and sisters are indeed called to exhort, admonish, and correct one another without fearing that the other pull out a supremacy card.  God alone is supreme.

Not only was he guilty of blatant hypocrisy, being the influential leader that he was, he was influencing many others to act hypocritically as well – even the very best of men! (Galatians 2:13)

“The weakness and inconsistency of the best men, when left to themselves, and how apt they are to falter in their duty to God, out of an undue regard to the pleasing of men.  And, the great force of bad examples, especially the examples of great men and good men, such as are in reputation for wisdom and honor.” ~Matthew Henry

Paul sees the clear and severe danger of Peter’s sin.  This whole church could fall on the heels of his pride and cowardice.  Paul’s solution is to answer Peter’s very injurious public sin with a very public earnest correction.  The cure, it seems, for blatant hypocrisy stemming from pride and cowardice in good leaders is, at times, public confrontation.

Paul and Peter’s Jewish culture sought to exclude men from the gospel on the basis of improper food, drink, association, and religious rituals.  They called things dirty which God had made clean.  Our culture seeks to exclude men on the basis of a lack of tolerance, refusing universalism, and adherence to Biblical truth.  They call things clean which God has deemed dirty.  These are merely two sides of one coin.  That coin is man’s fully made up, fully false, religious systems.  Both stem from intense cultural pressure, heavy-handed false teachers, and fear of being found guilty in the eyes of men.  

We cannot get to God by submission to man-made systems of belief.  Let us hear Paul and oppose those who would have us to believe and practice otherwise.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDU6JQV5_O8

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In Job 27, Job goes on speaking in his own defense.  He speaks as one who has authority and commands his listeners with the very truth of God.

And Job again took up his discourse, and said:

2 “As God lives, who has taken away my right,
    and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter,
3 as long as my breath is in me,
    and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,
4 my lips will not speak falsehood,
    and my tongue will not utter deceit.
5 Far be it from me to say that you are right;
    till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.
6 I hold fast my righteousness and will not let it go;
    my heart does not reproach me for any of my days. ~Job 27:1-6

Job continues to speak highly and confidently of a God who has not yet surfaced for him in the midst of his pain.  He maintains his integrity and refutes the false charges of hypocrisy against himself.  He refuses to falsely accuse himself as all of his friends insisted he do.  He refuses to curse God and betray himself, even if his resolve to fight on brings him to his very death.

Job’s conscience was his one last comfort.  He would be a fool to forsake it in exchange for the false charges of his friends.  Job may be lied to and about, but he will not adopt a mentality of deceit or succumb to believe lies of himself.  Such is Satan’s best attempt to belabor a believer.

Job goes on to explain the very reasons why he could assure himself and his friends that he was most certainly not what they said and thought of him – namely a hypocrite.

– Hypocrites have no hope; Job never gave up.

– Hypocrites’ prayers go unheard; Job trusted despite God’s silence.

– A hypocrite’s religion is useless and unhelpful; Job’s gave comfort and hope.

Furthermore, Job proves that he does not disagree with these men on matters of truth.  Of course the wicked will come to ruin.  Be it in this life or the next, there is no doubt regarding God’s justice in Job’s mind.  Hypocrites are to be pitied above all men!  Job certainly agrees.

In this, Job proves he is neither unreasonable nor heretical, but that he is, and always has, accepted what is actually true without exception.

One has to wonder if Job would have been better off if his friends had never even shown up.  It’s one thing to live through the kind of pain he experienced; it’s another to be repeatedly questioned, attacked, and falsely accused while bearing it.  Compounded miseries are most severe.

And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. ~Matthew 27:39-44

When every comfort is removed, every voice condemns, and all signs point to utter defeat, look at Jesus.  Paste his image over the bloody battle in you mind and consider him.  Surely the Man of Sorrows will comfort us in this wretched war we call life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXAqoZuYvyA

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In Job chapter 22, once again, we find Job being mercilessly falsely accused.  This time, Eliphaz brings specifics to his unfounded charges.

Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said:

2 “Can a man be profitable to God?
    Surely he who is wise is profitable to himself.
3 Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if you are in the right,
    or is it gain to him if you make your ways blameless?
4 Is it for your fear of him that he reproves you
    and enters into judgment with you?
5 Is not your evil abundant?
    There is no end to your iniquities. ~Job 22:1-5

Eliphaz begins by assuring Job that God has no need of him, even if he were righteous.

Come on, Job.  Don’t you know there’s no rewards with God?  You can’t merit anything by doing good or obeying him.  Do you really think that piety earns favor with God?  What are you, some kind of legalist?  I thought you were reformed.

Well, Eli’s half right, but his delivery is rancid.  While we do not earn favor or love through works, God is indeed pleased with righteousness and obedience.  Why else would he call us to it?  God honors those who are faithful in spiritual disciplines and he gives them a good return of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control when they persevere.  Although our piety never adds to or detracts from God himself in any way, it surely adds to or detracts from our own well-being.  Godliness is of value in every way. (1 Timothy 4:8)

Furthermore, Job serves a God who enjoys men’s sacrifices of praise.  He delights to fill his nostrils with the aroma of our worship.  Job’s obedience to God’s directives and his faithful prayer, sacrifice, and worship were not evidence of legalism or meritoriousness; they were evidence of his faithfulness.

Come to think of it, what better way is there to magnify a God who stands in need of no one and nothing than to display his amazing, careful, loving grace to condescend; to encourage; to invite; to accept the humble offerings of his children – not because he needs them, but because he wants them.  When we act upon our beliefs by prayer, fasting, studying, serving, and worshiping, we have the unique opportunity to display not only God’s worthiness, but also, his grace to accept us despite our helplessness and insufficiency.

Eliphaz doesn’t seem to know much about that, though, does he?  Where is his encouragement for Job in what he had done right?  Oh, I forgot, nothing Job ever did was right in Eliphaz’s eyes.  After all, that’s why he’s suffering, right?  Job was pegged.  Even good was seen as pure evil if Job’s hands touched it.  If Job was wise and learned, it was because he was puffed up with knowledge and void of love.  If he was void of knowledge, he was neglectful of diligent study and foolish.  If he did good works he was trusting in himself.  If he did not do good works he was oppressing the poor.  If he carried out spiritual disciplines he was pretending to love God.  If he faltered in spiritual disciplines he was godless.  Job was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t in the eyes of this man and his friends – who, by the way, I’m certain were giving one another mad props as they bounced their wrong ideas off one another piercing Job with them all.  How troubling that must have been to a man already vexed with such a load of grief.

Eliphaz went on to falsely accuse Job of hypocrisy, atheism, infidelity, gross impiety, injustice, oppression, no fear of God, and no regard for men.  None of it was true.  He sought to convict Job by shame and by fear.  When he said, “Agree with God” (Job 22:21),  what he really meant was, “Agree with me.”  Maybe someone should’ve told Eli that he wasn’t exactly the Holy Spirit.  I don’t know.

Well, what I do know is that there’s another guy who likes to peg people as one-dimensional and hopeless.  Maybe Eli hung out with him a little too much.  He also loves to damn people when they do as well as when they don’t.  His name is Satan.

Christians!  We must stop being Eliphaz!  We will never earn the confidence of our peers if all we ever do is discourage wrong…especially when everything is wrong in our eyes.  We must encourage right without darkening it by assuming ill-motives and underlying evil simply because we lack discernment.  There will always be people who do the right things for the wrong reasons.  We shouldn’t ever assume that certain people, you know, those ones we love to hate, fear, envy or have no practical use for in our lives, are sinister in all their undertakings.  Only Satan does things like that.

Don’t be a jerk.  Encourage one another despite imperfections.  When you see a man suffering, be gentle and extend extra compassion – not because God needs you to, but because he wants you to.  Then, like Job, the guilty will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands.

He delivers even the one who is not innocent,
    who will be delivered through the cleanness of your hands. ~Job 22:30

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0p6_4KDy98

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Bildad has grown impatient with hearing anyone besides himself speak.  He vilifies everything Job has said and condemns him even more thoroughly than he’d done before.  

Then Bildad the Shuhite answered and said:

2 “How long will you hunt for words?
    Consider, and then we will speak.
3 Why are we counted as cattle?
    Why are we stupid in your sight?
4 You who tear yourself in your anger,
    shall the earth be forsaken for you,
    or the rock be removed out of its place? ~Job 18:1-4

In his pride, Bildad is so offended that Job considers his counsel unwise and unkind that he exaggerates and twists Job’s words to be far worse than they were.  This is a man who is no more able to handle the truth than to confess and apologize.  Bildad may indeed have been a good man, but he was chock full of foolish pride.

Bildad goes on to imply that Job is wicked, unrighteous, without God, and most certainly fully personally responsible for every unfavorable circumstance he finds himself in the middle of.  He describes in detail the condition of wicked men – which, conveniently, just so happens to be identical to Job’s condition.  He’s the teacher who, from a comfortable distance, painstakingly illustrates hypothetical analogies which mirror the condition of all his listeners hoping they’ll realize he’s talking about them.  He’s a wanna-be Nathan whose prompting came from Satan rather than God.  He’s the guy who’d much rather spend Sunday afternoon with his real buddies than go out of his way to sit with someone who stood in desperate need of one true friend.  He added affliction to Job under the guise of taking it away.

Bildad should have been asking Job where he was spiritually, taking his answers at face value, encouraging him, and praying for him.  Instead, Bildad’s pride had him telling Job (and everyone else) where he was spiritually and wrongfully indicting him as the worst hypocrite on earth.  Why?

Because it’s easier than taking time to listen and understand the severe complexities of an afflicted man’s life.  It’s more comfortable than mourning with the man who mourns.  It requires less patience than supporting and encouraging someone who is hanging onto faith and reason by a mere thread.  It’s far less demanding than humility, sincerity, authenticity, and close relationship.  Distance does have it’s draw, doesn’t it?

Not to mention it kept Bildad and his buddies in the driver’s seat.  If Job wasn’t deserving of suffering, these guys weren’t deserving of a voice.  Their ill-assumptions gave them a platform as well as an illusion of superiority.  We wouldn’t want that to falter, would we?  Pride feeds presumption.

You can’t sit in the driver’s seat when you’re following after a foot-washer.  

Beware those who talk without listening, tell without asking, instruct without demonstrating, or illustrate without investing.  As for me and my house, help us always to listen first.  Give us the grace to ask and not tell.  Cause us to lead by example and to invest in far more than we draw illustrations from one another’s lives.  May we humbly, honestly serve the Lord and each other.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HE17huAYb6U

 

 

 

 

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Eliphaz began his discourse in Job 4 by deeming Job a hypocrite.  Rather than offering comfort or encouragement to his desperately hurting friend, he compounded Job’s pain by bringing false accusation against him.  Eliphaz goes on, adding further insult to injury in verses 7-11.

 “Remember: who that was innocent ever perished?
    Or where were the upright cut off?
8 As I have seen, those who plow iniquity
    and sow trouble reap the same.
9 By the breath of God they perish,
    and by the blast of his anger they are consumed.
10 The roar of the lion, the voice of the fierce lion,
    the teeth of the young lions are broken.
11 The strong lion perishes for lack of prey,
    and the cubs of the lioness are scattered.~Job 4:7-11

Eliphaz asks Job to consider why he is dying with troubles heaped upon him.  His arrogant and foolish assumption is that Job is guilty and full of fault and that God is angry with him.  He claims that innocent and upright men do not suffer so.  But what of Abel?  Has he forgotten Lot?  

Eliphaz couldn’t be more wrong about Job.  How much more pain it must have caused Job to know his friend thought so ill of him.  His innocence and blamelessness was the very reason he was chosen to suffer!  Just like Jesus.  

If God was angry with anyone at this point, it was Eliphaz – the arrogant, assuming, asinine accuser of his beloved child.

How many times I’ve played the role of Eliphaz!  Distrusting and accusing my Savior of not being who he has indeed faithfully proven himself to be!  How much pain I’ve arrogantly and carelessly heaped on my Jesus by misrepresenting him publicly while claiming to be his closest friend!  God forgive me!

Lord, give me wisdom.  When I am tempted to be Eliphaz, help me learn to encourage the downtrodden.  Give me grace where I have not only so often failed to comfort, but even further injured the innocent and painstricken with false accusation and misrepresentation.  Show me your compassion and teach me how to share it.  When I am in suffering like Job and accusers tear me down without cause, will that I might learn to trust you alone.  Help my unbelief.  Amen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k8zOVp537lk

 

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