#Write31Days – Post 9 – False Spirituality

spotlight

The lights come on, the camera is rolling, there is beautiful music being played, voices fill the air with their melodic song, and then the speaker delivers a powerful message.  We leave from that place invigorated and inspired to change our ways, to pray more and read the Bible every day.  We agree to hold each other accountable, to volunteer more, and to give more as we become better stewards.  Our lives are so affected and changed that each week we will invite more and more people to hear this person, this godly and spiritual gift from heaven.

This may go on for weeks, months, years and even decades.  Then it happens, one day we turn on the news and that gift is being splashed across the screen.  The person we held in such high regard has been accused or even arrested, or has stepped forward to admit and unexpected truth.  We try to deny it, but ultimately the truth always comes out.  We have to face the fact that this person, whom we held in such high regard, was nothing but a phony.

When I was a child, I remember watching television with my grandmother on Sundays.  There was one particular show she would watch, where a beautiful woman would come on stage… she would sing with such beauty and emotion that tears would stream down her face.  Her husband would then take the stage and preach a message that was convicting and life changing.  They were inspiring people, until the day his fraud was exposed.  People who had supported their ministry were devastated, and many became like me… a hardened skeptic.  I don’t fall for “shows” anymore, and I have learned to watch for the signs of hypocrisy and being disingenuous.

There are people who are REALLY good at faking it.  They may appear to have it all together, the perfect husband, kids and home.  They can spout out bible verses, speak in glorious ways that make them sound learned and wise, they pray out loud using fancy words and phrases, and they know the right lingo that will create an illusion of being holy and righteous.

Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.

Luke 12:3

Sometimes I will see right through a person, from the start.  Yet there are other times where it isn’t quite that obvious.  I may be suspicious, but without any evidence.  Or, the person might be really good at hiding their true self.  Humans are incapable of hiding truth for that long though, eventually we begin to see signs that things are not quite how they are being presented.  Then over time, particularly as the person becomes more comfortable with you – or confident in their ability to deceive – they truth beings to come to surface.  We can see through the facade.

The man who acts like a loving and caring father out in public, but verbally abuses his children or wife.

The pastor who gets caught in an affair or misusing tithes and church funds.

The woman who comes off as a sweet and kind woman at church, but in her home she screams and treats her family like they are nothing.

The ministry leader who prays for spiritual purity in the youth, while he is grooming certain students to be abused.

I am not talking about the person who gets caught up in a singular bad decision, where they lost good sense because of the temptation in front of them.  We are all sinners and have the capability of atrocious things.  I am talking about the person who is consistently and purposefully this way.  They put on a good show for others (and maybe they think it’s impressing God) but in their heart they are truly not changed, in their homes they are the exact opposite of what they preach or teach.

These are people who have a false spirituality.  They know all of the right words, all of the traditions, and how to present themselves in a way that sells their best characteristics.  But inside they are corrupt, manipulative, and deceitful.

Would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.

Psalm 44:21

God knows the heart, and He will shine light on the darkness.

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

Luke8:17

These are people who will even try and garner your sympathies as they wallow in their own sin, but it’s just for show.  They are not really interested in changing themselves, they just want to make sure you can’t speak against them.  It’s a guardrail that they put up to protect themselves.  It allows them to speak their truth (sometimes harshly) by tagging on a “I am not perfect” clause as they critique you.  They will claim deliverance from this or that sin, so that after they have torn you down … they can build you back up in as their own image bearer.

People with false spirituality are not trying to make you look Christ-like… hardly!  What they are trying to do is to mold you to look more like they do, they are doing it for the glory.  They shout “LOOK AT ME!  Look at what I have done.  Come, be just like ME!”… and God is not part of that equation.

So, how do we spot “false spirituality” –

  • Pray for Discernment – ask God to give you the wisdom and the knowledge to see through those who are frauds.

  • Pray for Transparency – pray that God will reveal their hidden truths to you, or the public as a whole.

  • Be Observant & Listen – you will begin to notice things that don’t feel quite right, or they will say something that will cause you take pause.  The more you are around them, the more frequently this will happen.

  • Look to Others – let me be clear, I am NOT advising you to gossip about a person.  What I am saying is see how others act around them.  Are there people who seem to have modeled themselves to be just like this person?  That’s a clue.  Just as much on the other side, do you notice that the wise people in your church or community are avoiding them like the plague!  That’s a clue too.

  • Who Do They Credit – when there is blessing or praise to be given, who does this person credit the glory to?  If they are constantly looking for the pat on the back, the attention, the credit, the glory … be careful.  “Look at what I did…” is just as bad as “Thank you Lord for allowing me this success….”.  In both cases, this is a person who is working in their own strength, on their own agenda. 

No one is going to be perfect, and if you are not careful you can discount just about anyone from being in your life because they are failing or sinful SOMEWHERE.   A genuine person isn’t going to put on the act of spiritual superiority, they are more interested in trying to address their own sin issues than trying to solve everyone else’s.

I recall a woman I was speaking with was sharing a ministry vision, she wanted to create a website where Christians could essential log their community service hours.  She wanted the world to see the good that Christians are doing, so they would see that we are not hypocrites and that we are actively striving to make a better world.

In theory, that sounds good.  But is that biblical? Is that actually a ministry?

Not really.

It was just another way to get a pat on the back for doing a good job.  It was another way of saying “hey, look at me and what I do!”  It didn’t allow God to get the credit, it was a place where instead each person would be able to get the credit they felt they deserved.

“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”

Matthew 6:2-4

This is also an great example of “false spirituality” because it gives an appearance of godliness.  When we boast about ourselves and our accomplishments for God, we are actually boasting only of ourselves.  If we truly wanted God to have all the glory, we would leave our names out of it entirely.  We are warned that as the days draw closer to Christ’s return, false spirituality is going to be on the rise as much (if not more) than sin and decay in the world.  When we encounter false spirituality, we must flee from it so that we are not corrupted by it.

But know this:  Difficult times will come in the last days.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of godliness but denying its power.  Avoid these people!

For among them are those who worm their way into households and capture idle women burdened down with sins, led along by a variety of passions, always learning and never able to come to a knowledge of truth.

2 Timothy 3:1-7

 

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Scoffers Among Us

Drive out a scoffer, & strife will go out, quarreling & abuse will cease.

Proverbs 22:10

Who are the scoffers and what does the Bible have to say about them?

Actually, quite a lot.

scoffers

What does haughty even mean???

haughty

Haughty, Scoffer, Arrogance, all of this is rooted in PRIDE.

Pride makes us think we are better than others.  We will think our sin isn’t as bad.  We will believe that our interpretation is more accurate.  We will divide our own brothers and sisters in Christ, based our preconceived opinions that we look to prove in the scriptures.  Those who do not agree with us, will receive venom from our lips.  Because, we can’t be wrong.  It is impossible for us to believe that we could be wrong.

This is because we have put our confidence in ourselves, and our own ability to comprehend the scriptures.  However, our confidence in ourselves supersedes humility toward God.  He gives us His Word so that we may understand HIM better and not to prove our own points or agendas.

As the days draw closer to Christ’s return, the Scriptures warn us in 2 Timothy 3, that:

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.

These scoffers, the haughty and arrogant, are not just out and about in the world.  They are sometimes sitting in the pews right next to us.  They are always looking to a new teacher, preacher, author, etc for wisdom.  However, they don’t recognize that they are seeking out these teachers who tell them exactly what they want to hear!

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

2 Timothy 4:3

They will rely on the interpretations of others to prove their points, instead of seeking the truth in God’s Word.  They will not be sharing their own knowledge or understanding, but that which has been spoon fed to them.  They no longer are satisfied with the milk of the basic scriptures, but they don’t want the meat of the truth.  They are searching for the candy coated sweets that satiate their cravings.

They will argue against anyone who speaks otherwise, like a child who is throwing a tantrum because it’s mother took away her candy and replaced it with a balanced meal.

Even when presented with scripture, they will not recognize sound doctrine as they are too busy arguing their point.  They don’t want to hear any Truth that would counter their preconceived beliefs.

Lovers of Themselves…. I’m right, you are wrong.

Lovers of Money…. Look at what I have.  Look at my home.  Look at my clothes. Look at my purse.  Look at my shoes.  Look at my grand event.  Or … on the flipside… Oh look at how I sacrifice.  Praise my thriftyness.

Boasters….  Look at how holy I am, how righteous, how great of a Christian I am.  Look at the good deeds I do for the community.

Proud…. I am incapable of being wrong.  I have nothing to apologize for.  I am right and you are just not smart enough to understand it like I do.   I am better at…. fill in the blank… than anyone.  My way is always best.

Blasphemers… contempt to God or toward his Word when we disregard portions of the scriptures are irrelevant or worthless.

Disobedient to parents…  are we honoring our mothers and fathers?

Unthankful… for God’s blessings, discontent with what He has gifted us.

Unholy… willingly sinning or choosing to not turn from our sin, lacking repentance.

Unloving… not loving toward God, to others as we are called to do by Jesus.  (Love God with all our hearts and understanding, loving our neighbor as ourselves)

Unforgiving… not willing to forgive or reconcile with our brothers and sisters in Christ, our family members, harboring resentment, hatred, disdain, and ill feelings towards those we are called to love.

Slanderers… speaking falsely against others, particularly those who are apart of our Kingdom family.   Spreading rumors that tarnish their reputation without actual first hand knowledge ourselves.  Gossiping and complaining about them, instead of speaking to them directly.

Without Self Control… being reckless or having an inability to control our thoughts, words, behaviors in situations or towards others.

Brutal…  Do we speak truth without regard to HOW we speak truth.  Is brutal honesty or brutal attack our go to instead of gentle instruction and guidance?

Despisers of Good… Do we not appreciate the blessings that God gave us because it wasn’t what we wanted, or as big, or in the timing we desired?  Do we despise the blessings other receive out of jealousy or anger toward them?

Traitors… Do we betray God’s word?  Do we betray our friends?  Do we betray our morals and principles in order to get our own way?

Headstrong… Are we self willed and obstinate?  Do we dig our heels in against God’s desires for us, or His calling?  Do we fight for our way in our ministry service, in our marriages, our homes and jobs.

Haughty… are you arrogant, do you see your self as infallible, superior in knowledge or talent above others?  Are you prideful?  Always in the need to be right?  Always in need to be the person in charge?  Your way or the highway?  Are you incapable of being corrected, rebuked, or guided by a peer?

Lovers of Pleasure Over God… Where do you put your treasures?  Where do you spend your time?  What takes your time away from Bible Study, Prayer, and going to Church?  What takes your money away from tithing?  What activities outside the church keep you from serving in the church?  What are your pleasures that steal you from God?

Having a form of godliness but denying it’s power… What is the mask you wear?  What is the image  you project to the world of your godliness, holiness, righteousness… that is false?  How do you pretend for others, when in your heart you know it’s false?  Do you preach the words to others but not apply them to yourself, do not believe in them for yourself?  Do you stand above others as sinless, while hiding your sin behind cloaks?  Are you a modern day Pharisee?

BOOK REVIEW: The Hole in our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung

holinessbook

This is a book about the importance of the gospel, being filled by the Holy Spirit to more toward holiness, understanding the balance of faith and works, understanding the importance of the law & heeding Jesus’ commands, facing the world that wants us to be anything BUT holy, repentance,  and the hope that while perfection will never be attainable… holiness can be found in us, through Jesus & He is our motivation for pursuing it.

In Regard to the Writer:  Kevin DeYoung

1) It’s not a short book, but not long either.  DeYoung does a great job of getting directly to his point.  Which for this reader, is HUGE.  You get enough information to drive home the point, without reading endless examples and illustrations.

2) The style in which DeYoung writes is comfortable & fluid.  You don’t find yourself back tracking to read a portion again because it didn’t click.  He transitions to new chapters and ideas smoothly.  His train of thought is easy to follow, as you move through the chapters &  DeYoung never loses track of the main idea of the book.

3) His word choice and sentence structures are familiar without being “dumbed down”.  My great uncle was a lay pastor, and I have heard him speak about theology a few times in my life.  Additionally I have sat in college classrooms with Pastors as teachers, and in churches where the Pastor has more degrees than a thermometer.  DeYoung clearly knows who his audience is, not over complicating thought processes, making relate-able parallels to every day situations and experiences, etc.  He balances writing for “every man” with doctrine and theological vocabulary that we should all be familiar with.  Yet, he makes a point of defining those words through the context of his writing.

In Regard to the Book:  The Hole in our Holiness

I often find myself looking to “experts” to get answers, in particular when I am having trouble understanding a part of scripture or Christian living.  This has a lot to do with my coming to Christ at a later age & possibly even more to do with my analytical brain wanting to get as many thoughts as possible on a subject.  What I tend to find in a lot of writings is that we assume a problem exists, we support with lots of scripture that it IS in fact a problem, throw in a bunch of stories of how others have had this same problem…. and yet fail to ever get to a real solution.  I end up no better of than when I started my research.

Fortunately, this book does NOT follow that suit.  DeYoung does a great job identifying the root problem, getting the scriptural support and even giving us some examples to build the credibility for his argument.  However, he doesn’t let it end there.  Nor, does he end the book with a simple suggestion that we should aspire to be more holy, or pray for it.  In fact, unlike other books I have read, DeYoung really put effort into clearly defining solutions and direction.

He identifies these solutions within each example he gives.  He wraps up the chapters with solutions to that particular facet or challenge to holiness.  Finally, DeYoung caps off the whole book with not only solutions but HOPE.  This book equally convicts us of the areas in which we stumble (or flat out ignore) in our pursuit of holiness, but also gives us hope in a God who sees our heart & desires to be holy.  You don’t walk away from this book feeling beat up, but instead it is more reminiscent of a locker room pep talk.  You may have fumbled.  But, the game is not over yet.  We are still in this.  We can still win.

Finally, the book concludes with study questions you can use on your own, or within a small group or book study group.  It is chock full of scriptural support and references, which are found throughout the text but also recapped in the final pages for quick reference.

Highlights from the Text:

Here are just a few excerpts from the book, that I hope will inspire you to pick up a copy for yourself.

“My fear is that as we rightly celebrate, and in some quarters rediscover, all that Christ has saved us from, we are giving little thought and making little effort concerning all that Christ has saved us to.”    (The Hole in Our Holiness- Kevin DeYoung)

“The Great Commission is about holiness.  God wants the world to know Jesus, believe in Jesus, and obey Jesus.  We don’t take the Great Commission seriously if we don’t help each other grow in obedience.”      (The Hole in Our Holiness- Kevin DeYoung)

“Many Christians have the mistaken notion that if only we were better Christians, everyone would appreciate us.  They don’t realize that holiness comes with a cost.”   (The Hole in Our Holiness- Kevin DeYoung)

 

 

The Hole in Our Holiness

Kevin DeYoung

Publisher: Crossway   http://www.crossway.org

ISBN: 13:978-1-4335-4135-3