Website owner: James Miller
HYPOCRISY, PERSONAL DISHONESTY, AND FALSENESS AMONG EVANGELICALS 11/77 God has said that if we truly seek him we will find him. I believe that is true. I think the key to finding true spirituality is earnestness, sincerity and honesty (honesty with ourselves and with God). It is only when we read the Bible in true honesty, earnestness and sincerity do we really understand it. I think the biggest problem that conservative Baptists, and evangelicals in general, have is the one of honesty. They have a problem of self-delusion, self-deception. They are forever reading the Bible but they simply are unable to read it honestly. The problem is all that dogma that they have been indoctrinated with, the dogma on salvation, etc. that stands in their way and prevents them. Instead of reading it honestly all their preconceived notions and dogma makes them try to bend it and twist it to fit their own ideas. This is one way in which they are dishonest. There are others, too. They want to be zealous for God. They work themselves into great zealousness. But how do they channel their zealousness? In going to all the many church services --- morning worship, Sunday School, evening service, prayer meeting, ladies fellowship, etc.. In going "calling" on Thursday nights. In getting involved in the church, teaching Sunday School, taking a job as an usher, etc.. In going out with groups to "witness". All these things and more. But in all these things they are deceiving themselves. They are not being honest with themselves or with God. They are grossly duping themselves. Why? Because in doing all these things they are evading the true point, the essential point. They are not facing up to what God really wants. God wants spirituality. And spirituality just does not consist in these things. Spirituality comes with first being honest with God, being truly honest, sincere and earnest with him. And when you are truly honest with God you realize that what he is really interested in is Goodness --- that Goodness is the first calling of a Christian --- not activities. He wants you to look for your sin, ferret it out, and try to get rid of it. He wants you to focus your mind on changing yourself, trying to improve yourself. He wants you to at least try to obey him. He wants you to take his commandments and injunctions seriously. He wants you to face yourself and to face him --- he wants honesty --- an honest response on your part. His main concern is not a lot of deeds, actions and talk, his main concern is "what you are". He wants a better person, a good person. He wants you to channel your efforts into changing yourself, not the rest of the world (at least not at first). He wants you to focus on your own values, attitudes, priorities and outlooks. He wants you to look at yourself --- your own heart. The object is a "new you" first of all; you can convert the world second. Spirituality comes first; evangelization comes second. So, because of the evangelical emphasis on "activity" rather than on "spirituality" we see how it is possible for a person to be so zealous and fervent, always doing a lot of religious talking, boldly attempting to "win souls", involved in all kinds of church activities, yet at the same time, be an unhappy, angry, hate-filled person, confused and mixed up. On the one hand we see all kinds of religious cant and pious talk and on the other a person angry at the world, hostile, without any warmth or love for others, a person putting the lie to everything he says by everything he is. He lives in a home filled with argument, strife and turmoil and is forever gossiping and speaking badly of other people. It is all called hypocrisy, that terrible sin that so often affects the religious, the sin Jesus hated so much and condemned so pitilessly. There are reasons evangelicals get caught up in this web of self-deception: 1. They believe, by their doctrine, that on becoming converted, immediately on accepting Christ as Savior (i.e. "being saved") they are in some mystical way, suddenly transformed beings, "new creatures in Christ Jesus". Thus, because of this, they tend to assume that they then have everything they need, all the spirituality, wisdom and understanding that is to be had. Thus there is no real impetus, no motivating force, to push them to seek spirituality. They are taught not to trust their feelings, that feelings lie; that if they don't feel like a Christian, if they feel a dearth of faith or belief or spirituality, if they "don't feel saved", not to worry about it; that feelings lie and are not to be trusted. They are taught that "being a Christian" is not based on feelings but on "promise" (God's promise, as found in various scriptures, that if they perform a certain action they are saved) --- all of this, just more of the grossest self-deception and personal dishonesty. 2. They put up "evangelization" as the sole purpose of Christianity, the one and only important responsibility of the Christian. He has one mission, purpose and responsibility --- to "win souls". Thus the attention given to spirituality, to spiritual growth, to the need for spiritual understanding is zero. 3. They argue that a person can't be good on his own power, but only as God gives him power --- that Goodness is a fruit that must come of itself. And so we see that underneath a lot of religious talk and cant, underneath religious zealousness, can be a lot of the most grave self-deception, dishonesty and falseness. And all this shows why a person who never goes to church may be a lot more serious about God, a lot more spiritual really, than the most religiously zealous person. And that is the reason why a very religious person can have so many problems (emotional and otherwise) and the person who never goes to church so few. The main thrust of Christianity is to follow God's holy law, follow one's conscience, be good and do good, and a person who has never opened a Bible or gone to church can do that just from his own conscience and good sense --- and God honors him for it. Do I think all evangelicals are hypocrites? I think that due to their particular religious doctrines and practices there are very strong forces that tend to push them in this direction. The evangelical's mind is blinded to that deep spiritual truth that "Goodness is the first calling of a Christian" --- and nothing else, not soul-winning, not anything, ranks with it. To start out with, God wants one thing. Goodness. With Goodness (Honesty, Morality, Love, etc.) we are all God wants us to be, we will automatically "stand out" as a light to the world, we will bring glory and honor to his holy name and delight to his heart. From the condemnations of Christ on hypocrisy one might well wonder if the sin that God hates the most is not Hypocrisy. God is not a God of sham or falseness. He is a God of honesty, goodness and truth. Religion without Goodness is sham and fakery. Talk without substance is sham and fakery --- detestable to God and a curse to Him and his gospel. More from SolitaryRoad.com:
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