The Sham of a Goodly Outside

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Psalm 51:6a  Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being…

In Act III of The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare writes,

The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.

An evil soul, producing holy witness,

Is like a villain with a smiling cheek;

A goodly apple rotten at the heart.

Oh, what a goodly outside falsehood hath.

Let me repeat that last line. Oh, what a goodly outside falsehood hath.

We have become professionals at putting on a goodly outside while the intent and integrity of our heart is suspect. Some of our religious upbringing taught us how to behave as Christians but did little to address the true condition of our heart. Some of us are still living according to the standards we have been taught rather than as an expression of the heart we have caught. We know that we are hypocrites. We know that the goodly outside is a lie.

Long before Shakespeare, in 550 B.C., Aesop wrote something that is not a fable – Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth. Lies originate in the heart of a person who is unsure of their value. Lies are designed by such a person to protect what little value they believe they have. Yet the outcome of the outside show is to further enslave the person because it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the necessary external image to protect from an accidental revealing if the inner truth.

There is only one answer to this serious condition – Inner worth is only possible through the surrender of self to the Savior. This takes true humility and transparency, and many of us are not willing to open our lives up to that extent to anyone, including God. Instead, we choose to live dualistic lives.

According to author Melvin F. Wheatley, “We are split spiritual personalities. We swear allegiance to one set of principles and live by another. We extol self-control and practice self-indulgence. We proclaim brotherhood and harbor prejudice. We laud character but strive to climb to the top at any cost. We erect houses of worship, but our shrines are our places of business and recreation. We are suffering from a distressing cleavage between the truths we affirm and the values we live by. Our souls are the battlegrounds for civil wars, but we are trying to live serene lives in houses divided against themselves.”

We are deceivers, not of others but of ourselves, believing that the outward appearance will somehow overcome the inner sin. But in Psalm 51, David came to know, as must we, that God desires truth in the inner parts. Augustine said it this way – Before God can deliver us from ourselves we must undeceive ourselves.

In 1495 King Charles VIII of France conquered Naples and imported from Italy a new fruit. It was a very large pear that was crisp, sweet, juicy and aromatic. But of all the qualities of this delicious pear, there was one that stood out above all the rest and from which the King gave it its name. The pear is called le bon Chretien, which translated means the good Christian. The reason it was given this name is because they say the pear is never rotten at the core.

How is your core? What is the spiritual condition of the inner parts of your life? Is the outside of your life a show or is it the life of Christ showing?

We do not need to fear becoming honest before God about who we really are. What we need to fear is the consequence of not being honest. If our heart has not been invaded by the truth of who we are and been transformed by the truth of who God is, then eternal death is the consequence.

But humbling oneself before God in absolute honesty brings the mercy and grace of God that forgives completely.

Sacrificing self brings the sacrifice of Jesus and His salvation.

What joy there is in knowing that every outward activity is an expression of who we really are.

We are free from the guilt and shame that was produced by the deceptions we were maintaining.

The civil war in our souls has been settled once and for all by the appearance of the King, and we are no longer divided against ourselves.

We are true to the core.

We have been taught wisdom in our inmost places.

Now we can live proudly as the expression of who we are because we are one with Christ.

Free at last from the bondage of maintaining a goodly outside.

Everything is an expression of the Godly inside.

Joy has returned to life!

Pastor John

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