Jesus saved his most scathing words for hypocrites. The Lord is looking for honesty. He’s looking for those with pure hearts. When we hide behind a façade, we’re not fooling anyone. God knows exactly who we really are. In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves.
In his message, ‘Honest to God,’ Pastor Greg Laurie points out the danger of living an imitation life. It’s a disappointment to the Lord, and our act may not be believable to those around us either. It’s a good opportunity for a reset and to live a life of transparent honesty going forward.
Greg warns against the dangers of being a hypocrite and playing a part. Being someone who is effectively an actor and presenting an image that is not really them in this context is pretending to be a Christian. But it’s actually not Christian at all.
Imperfect People Serving God
‘One of the things that keeps non-believers away is hypocrisy in the church,’ says Greg. ‘How many of us have heard people say the reason they don’t go to church is there are too many hypocrites there? But we are imperfect people serving a perfect God, and we all have moments of hypocrisy.’
But sometimes this is an excuse that non-believers offer as to why they will not become Christians. The devil knows there’s a genuine saviour, Jesus Christ. He knows that through Him people come to God. So he effectively floods the market with cheap imitations to distract and divert people from the real thing.
‘A hypocrite is not a Christian who slips up because people are accusing them,’ says Greg. ‘We all have moments where we don’t live up to the standards of scripture. That’s humanity. But a person who makes mistakes, says they’re sorry, and tries to do better is walking with the Lord, while a person who is just playing a role is not.’
Becoming More Like Jesus
Even the Apostle Paul admitted his personal struggle in Romans 7. He said ‘I don’t understand myself at all. I really want to do what is right and I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate.’ Our conscience shows that we agree the law is good, but we can’t help ourselves because it’s the sin inside us that makes us do evil things.
‘That was a candid admission,’ says Greg. ‘But that doesn’t mean we’re content with the state that we’re in. We’re always seeking to become more like Jesus and to live Godly lives. The fact is, the further we go in the Christian life, the more we realise we need to grow.’
In contrast with sinners, Jesus was incredibly compassionate. Take the woman caught in the act of adultery. The Pharisees grabbed her not because they cared about the law or what was right, but because they wanted to put Jesus to the test and hopefully see Him fail.
Compassion for Sinners
Jesus tells her to go and sin no more, and we see this over and over again. He’s loving and compassionate with sinners, even being called their friend. But He was very quick to deal with self-righteous hypocrites. It’s better to be an honest sinner than a lying saint.
In Acts, there was a man named Ananias who with his wife Sapphira sold some property. He brought part of the property to the apostles, but claimed it was the full amount. And his wife agreed to this deception. Then Peter sat down and said, you lied to the Holy Spirit and you kept some of the money for yourself.
‘Peter asks why Ananias would do a thing like this, and lie to God,’ says Greg. ‘As soon as Peter asserted these words, Ananias fell to the ground and died. Everyone who heard about it was terrified. About 3 hours later, his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.’
Peter asks her, was this price you and your husband received for the land? She said yes and then she too fell to the floor and died. As they carried her out and buried her beside her husband, fear gripped the entire church.
‘Why did God deal so severely with these two people?’ asks Greg. ‘Because they committed a specific sin against this spirit. Their sin was they lied to the Holy Spirit. There are specific sins identified in the Bible that can be committed against the Holy Spirit. You can insult and resist the Spirit.’
“I will say it again,’ says Greg. ‘It’s better to be an honest sinner than a lying saint. Don’t put on a show. That’s what Ananias and Sapphira were doing. They were pretending to be something they were not.’
In As I See It Pastor Greg Laurie takes Biblical principles and teachings and applies them to everyday occurrences and situations within our culture; ranging from how to experience personal happiness, how to have a strong and lasting marriage, to how to deal with crisis. A resource available from the Vision Store.
Listen to Greg’s full message below, and for more resources visit our Vision Store.