A man heard that 80 percent of all traffic accidents happen within a mile of home. So he moved! But problems can’t be avoided. Problems come into every life. Some problems, some temptations, can be avoided and should. But the Devil attacks us at our weakest point. So no matter how safe we think that we are, we are not. In fact, when we think that we are the safest, we are the weakest.
In 1977 I got an opportunity to travel to the Holy Land. It was an experience of a lifetime. For someone planning to enter the ministry, it was a valuable educational tool. The first time that I had ever been out of the country, and now I would spend a week in Israel and two days in Rome. From my college there were about 7 who went. I didn’t know any of the other six from my school. We were assigned roommates for the entire trip. When I was assigned a guy who was a Southern Baptist preparing for ministry, I was excited. Not only to get to know and make a new friend, but we had something in common. This ministerial student wasn’t at all what I expected. Flirted with the ladies, but I thought, maybe he is just kidding around (letting his hair down). Then one night came in drunk and passed out on his bed with bottle in hand.
The private life that he was living was not reflective of the public life we was confessing. Sometimes we call it a dual life. Living in the public life one way. Living in our private lives totally a different way. Be careful not to do your `acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:1-8)
In a small college town a tavern frequented by students ran the following ad in the campus paper during the days before Parents Weekend: “Bring Your Parents For Lunch Saturday. We’ll pretend We Don’t Know You!” The ad was soon challenged by the college chaplain, who posted a revised version on the campus bulletin board. It read: “Bring Your Parent to Chapel Sunday. We’ll Pretend We Know You!”+”
A powerful book that every Christian should read is The People of the Lie: The Hope For Healing Human Evil by M. Scott Peck. In it he deals with a very specific kind of evil that is both chilling and fascinating. Utterly dedicated to preserving their self-image of perfection, they are unceasingly engaged in the effort to maintain the appearance of moral purity. They worry about this a great deal. They are acutely sensitive to social norms and what others might think of them . . . they dress well, go to work on time, pay their taxes, and outwardly seem to live lives that are above reproach. The words “image,” “appearance,” and “outwardly” are crucial to understanding the morality of the evil. While they seem to lack any motivation to be good, they intensely desire to appear good. Their ‘goodness” is all on a level of pretense. It is, in effect, a lie.
The Church at Rome was a very young Church. There was a great cost to being a Christian and living in Rome. The Romans used Christians in the lions den for entertainment. Sometimes they used them as torches for the city streets. If they were less lucky they became slaves. It was easy to live a double life! When Paul writes the Book of Romans, he addresses the issues of sin, the cross and salvation.
But the whole theme of Roman’s is For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Clearly there is one major issue on Paul’s mind. You can’t live a double life, it is in Jesus’ words, hypocrisy.
The more excellent something is the more likely it will be imitated. There are many false diamonds and rubies, but who goes about making counterfeit pebbles? However, the more excellent things are the more difficult it is to imitate them in their essential character and intrinsic virtues. So it is with Christian virtues and graces. (Matthew 7:15-16)”Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
No one should pay attention to a man delivering a lecture or a sermon on his ‘philosophy of life’ until we know exactly how he treats his wife, his children, his neighbors, his friends, his subordinates and his enemies. A person isn’t known to be a Christian solely by what he or she confesses, but by what they live. JAM 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
“The righteous will live by faith.”