Thursday, February 25, 2010
Today’s Topic: Public Shame
Today’s Text: 2 Peter 2:2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered.
False teachers are self-centered. They have developed a system of theology that is attractive to the person who is seeking spirituality but is somewhat spiritually illiterate. Their teachings have a flair of emotionalism and appeal to the powerful need for acceptance. Many fall prey to the apparent grace they hear that permits their continuation of pursuing the pleasures of the flesh.
According to Peter, the next thing we need to identify about false teachers is this deadly combination of grace and flesh. False teachers are convinced, and convince many followers, that the two can coexist. The Apostle Paul knew that was an issue when he wrote to the Romans and said, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?…For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin…”
The hypocrisy of the false teachers is at once evil, deadly, and shameful. It embarrasses the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and puts a stain on those who truly call Him Lord. Our Lord himself was most angered at the self-serving hypocrisy of the spiritual leaders of His day. John Boykin, writing in an article entitled The Gospel of Coincidence, says, What was so bad about [the Pharisees’] hypocrisy? If we think of it as consisting merely in their teaching or pretending one thing while in fact practicing something contradictory, we will miss Jesus’ main point. What He nailed them for was that they were using God and the things of God as a means to some other end. That’s what was insidious about the Pharisees’ example. “They do all their deeds to be noticed by men” (Matthew 23:5) …. Theirs was a problem of priorities: their first priority was social status, to which end God was but a means. What greater affront to God could there be? Better to ignore Him altogether than to exploit Him as a means to something else you value more highly.
This is one of the things that identifies the false teachers of today – they exploit people spiritually for the sake of personal gain. But we must look into our own lives before we simply turn in anger towards those we have already pictured in our minds. Let us not become focused on others until we have first dealt with the hypocrisy of our own lives, because there is probably some in there. The world is watching, and they form their opinion on the validity of what we call truth by the impact it has had on our lives.
There is nothing more devastating to a believer’s testimony than looking spiritual while living in defeat. In his book Great Is Thy Faithfulness, Larry Burkett tells this story:
One couple shared how God shook them out of their complacency about deception. They were selling their home, which had a significant problem with flooding in a basement playroom. During the dry winter season, they replaced the carpet and put the house on the market.
They were showing it to a very interested buyer, and when they went to the playroom the potential buyer mentioned that the carpet looked new.
“Sure,” the small daughter replied, “the old carpet got wet every time it rained.” This came as a shock, since the couple had skillfully avoided any mention of a water problem. The buyer left, but not without a thorough discussion of ethics and Christianity. You see, the couple selling the home was a well-known pastor and his wife. Later he told me, “We allowed our personal needs to choke out our spiritual values. God simply used the honesty of a young child to expose us.”
The truth revealed will make you truly free; concealing facts will make you a captive of your own hypocrisy.
We bring shame to the Gospel of Jesus Christ when we try to combine our faith with the flesh. It makes us as guilty as the false teachers. Let’s all do a little inward reflection today under the influence of the Holy Spirit and give Him full permission to reveal any hypocrisy in us.