Two-Faced People

Making Life Work
Read: Psalm 28
Focus: Psalm 28:3

“Do not drag me away with the wicked—with those who do evil—those who speak friendly words to their neighbors while planning evil in their hearts.”

There is a category of people whose behavior for some reason we seem to excuse—but God doesn’t. He doesn’t find them acceptable; they and the unseen attitudes of their hearts he finds deplorable. Who are they? They are the kind of people who will say one thing to your face, then another behind your back. Even worse to God than what they say about you is what they think about you in their hearts. The psalmist says they speak peace when they are in front of you, but even before you are gone, their minds are flooded with ill will toward you.

We call them two-faced; the Bible calls them hypocrites. And while two-faced people are unpleasant, our culture pretty much excuses their behavior and accepts their ways. Hypocrisy is not a crime, rarely is there any kind of sanction for duplicity and for certain, two-facedness carries no real social stigma. Yet here is One who doesn’t keep quiet about their nasty ways. God’s righteous gaze cuts through the syrupy surface of their lives with utter moral clarity and labels the wickedness of their hypocritical hearts, calling them what they truly are: Workers of iniquity.

Now I realize that at this point in your reading you might be thinking this is anything but an encouraging little devotional thought for the day. And truthfully, it is not. Rather, this is an exhortation. And the exhortation I have for you is twofold:

One, it is most likely that you will rub shoulders today with the kinds of people David describes in this psalm. Be cautious around them. Discern their hypocritical hearts and don’t be tainted by their iniquitous ways. If you allow them into your inner circle, watch out: they will ensnare you. So be careful, be very careful!

Being two-faced is not a crime in our culture; there’s not even any real sanction for relational duplicity or social stigma for being hypocritical. But in God’s eyes, people who say one thing to your face and another behind your back “talk a good line of peace then moonlight for the Devil.” (The Message) Be careful around two-faced folk, and most importantly, don’t be one!

And two, don’t be one of them. It is so easy to fall into this kind of two-faced living. Ask God to keep you from hypocrisy. Don’t fall into the trap of saying one thing but thinking another in your heart. Ask God for integrity of word and thought.

That’s what David prayed: Keep me from them, and keep me from being one of them. I hope you will pray that too!

__________________

“Next to hypocrisy in religion, there is nothing worse than hypocrisy in friendship.” (Joseph Hall)

 

Making Life Work: Try praying another prayer of David found in Psalm 139:23-24 with the specific motive of cleansing your life of hypocrisy: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. Point out anything you find in me that makes you sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

Two-Faced People

It’s likely you’ll rub shoulders today with two-faced people. Be careful! Discern their hypocritical hearts; avoid their iniquitous ways. But mostly, don’t be one of them. It’s easy to slip into two-faced living by saying one thing while thinking another in your heart. Ask God for integrity of word and thought. That’s what David prayed: Keep me from them, and keep me from being one of them. Hope you’ll pray that too!

Two Faced People

Read Psalm 28

Featured Verse: Psalm 28:3

“Do not take me away with the wicked,
And with workers of iniquity,
Who speak peace to their neighbors,
But evil is in their hearts.”

There is a whole category of people whose behavior, by and large we excuse. However, God doesn’t. He doesn’t find them acceptable; they and the unseen attitudes of their hearts he finds deplorable. They are the kind of people who will say one thing to your face, but say another thing behind your back. And even worse to God than what they say about you is what they think about you in their hearts. The psalmist says they speak peace when they are in front of you, but even before you turn away from them, their minds are flooded with ill will toward you.

We might say they are two-faced. The Bible calls them hypocrites. And though we pretty much excuse their behavior and accept their ways in our culture, there is one who doesn’t. God’s righteous gaze cuts right through the syrupy surface of their lives with utter moral clarity and labels the wickedness of their hypocritical hearts, calling them what they truly are: Workers of iniquity.

Now I realize that at this point in your reading you might be thinking this is anything but an encouraging little devotional thought for the day. And truthfully, it is not. Rather, this is an exhortation. And the exhortation I have for you is twofold:

One, it is most likely that you will rub shoulders today with the kinds of people David describes in this psalm. Be careful of them. Discern their hypocritical hearts and don’t be tainted by their iniquitous ways. If you allow them into your inner circle, they will ensnare you. So be careful.

And two, don’t be one of them. It is so easy to fall into this kind of two-faced living. Ask God to keep you from hypocrisy. Don’t fall into the trap of saying one thing but thinking another in your heart. Ask God for integrity of word and thought.

That’s what David prayed: Keep me from them, and keep me from being one of them. Hope you will pray that too!

The Stench of Hypocrisy

Read: Matthew 23

“The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach. (Matthew 23:2-3)

Let’s be perfectly clear about this: Sin is sin, and no matter what level of sin it is, it is always offensive to a holy God.  Sin corrupts; it corrodes the soul; it prevents the blessings of God and if not dealt with, will cause the gift of eternal life to be forfeited.

Having said that, have you noticed how Jesus seems to rail against one particular sin more than others?  Jesus doesn’t beat up on prostitutes and thieves and good old run of the mill garden variety sinners like he does religious hypocrites.  Just read through this chapter and you will see what I mean.

Hypocrisy is intolerable to God; religious hypocrisy is especially repugnant.  It is the worst indictment the Divine could lay against you.  To say one thing and to do another; to believe one way and live a different way; to teach people one thing and to personally practice another in the name of Christ will arouse God’s disdain like no other.

Why?  Hypocrisy is the height of deceitfulness.  It layers the heart act by act with calluses that will eventually prevent the Holy Spirit from doing his work: Convicting us of sin.  It lures gullible followers into the same destructive patterns of incongruent beliefs.  And perhaps worst of all, it hardens those who are turned off by the religious hypocrisy they witness among God’s so-called people from ever wanting to have anything to do with Jesus Christ.

How many times have you heard an angry, hardened unbeliever say, “If that’s what Christianity is all about, I want nothing to do with it!”?  How sad!  It may be that the hypocrisy they’re reacting to will close the door of their heart for all eternity to God’s offer of salvation.

The challenge with hypocrisy is that it is so hard to spot in your own life.  Again, it is so effectively evil because of its power of deception and the hardening of the heart that it wreaks.  However, if you are willing to lie very still on the Great Surgeon’s table and allow the Holy Spirit to apply the scalpel to your heart, I am confident that he will expose and excise any hypocrisy that has taken up residence.

Are you courageous enough to allow him to do some spiritual surgery on you today?

“Hypocrisy desires to seem good rather than to be so; honesty desires to be good rather than seem so.” ~Arthur Warwick

 

What If God Took Over?

 

Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart to you, expose any hidden and unknown sin and remove anything that could hinder or destroy you relationship with God.

Stinking To High Heaven

Read Mark 7:1-8:38

Stinking To High Heaven

Jesus said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.
In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines commandments
of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God,
you hold the tradition of men…”
Mark 7:6-8

Go Deep: As Jesus began to preach and minister the Kingdom of God, conflict with the Pharisees, religious leaders and other “stakeholders” in traditional Judaism increased dramatically. They didn’t like the fact that Jesus wasn’t holding to their traditions at all—and Jesus wasn’t intimidated by their pressure to conform.

Though there were many “violations” that disturbed them, in this particular conflict, they were upset that his disciples didn’t go through ritual washing before eating. When they questioned Jesus about it, he let loose a holy tirade against their ridiculous traditions, giving us an open window through which we can see what is truly irksome to God: Shallow, hypocritical, spiritually incongruent religiosity.

Jeremy Taylor writes, “The Pharisees minded what God spoke, but not what He intended…They were busy in the outward work of the hand, but incurious of the affections and choice of the heart. So God was served in the letter, they did not much inquire into His purpose; and therefore they were curious to wash their hands, but cared not to purify their hearts.”

God wasn’t impressed with the Pharisees, nor is he impressed with your rituals; he wants to be in relationship with you. Holding on to tradition for the sake of tradition is meaningless to God; he wants your acts of worship to be authentic. Lips that affirm one thing but a heart that holds to something else is completely odious to God—it stinks to high heaven, literally!

God desires integrity in our behavior, intimacy in our walk with him, and authenticity in our worship practices. Spirituality devoid of integrity, intimacy, and authenticity is even more repulsive to God than people who know they are sinners and don’t try to hide the fact.

Now there is an obvious application to this particular reading: God wants your heart. And he wants the heart you offer him to be pure. But let me suggest a riskier application of this text, as well as all the other accounts of Jesus’ confrontations with the Pharisees: Rather than reading them and feeling a sense of spiritual justification, why not read yourself into the story as one of the Pharisees. You see, the longer you are in the faith, the greater the likelihood that you will slip into some of the very practices God found so odious in the religious establishment of Jesus’ day.

Whatever it takes, keep your relationship with God fresh and vital!

Just Saying… John McClintock was right: “The Pharisees are not all dead yet, and are not all Jews.”

Psalm 28: Two-Faced People

Read Psalm 28

Two-Faced People

“Do not take me away with the wicked
And with workers of iniquity,
Who speak peace to their neighbors,
But evil is in their hearts.”
Psalm 28:3

There is a whole category of people whose behavior, by and large we excuse. However, God doesn’t. He doesn’t find them acceptable; they and unseen attitudes of their hearts he finds deplorable. They are the kind of people who will say one thing to your face, but say another thing behind your back. And even worse to God than what they say about you is what they think about you in their hearts. The psalmist says they speak peace when they are in front of you, but even before you turn away from them, their minds are flooded with ill will toward you.

We might say they are two-faced. The Bible calls them hypocrites. And though we pretty much excuse their behavior and accept their ways in our culture, there is one who doesn’t. God’s righteous gaze cuts right through the syrupy surface of their lives with utter moral clarity and labels the wickedness of their hypocritical hearts, calling them what they truly are: Workers of iniquity.

Now I realize that at this point in your reading you might be thinking this is anything but an encouraging little devotional thought for the day. And truthfully, it is not. Rather, this is an exhortation. And the exhortation I have for you is twofold:

One, it is most likely that you will rub shoulders today with the kinds of people David describes in this psalm. Be careful of them. Discern their hypocritical hearts and don’t be tainted by their iniquitous ways. If you allow them into your inner circle, they will ensnare you. So be careful.

And two, don’t be one of them. It is so easy to fall into this kind of two-faced living. Ask God to keep you from hypocrisy. Don’t fall into the trap of saying one thing but thinking another in your heart. Ask God for integrity of word and thought.

That’s what David prayed: Keep me from them, and keep me from being one of them. Hope you will pray that too!

“Next to hypocrisy in religion, there is nothing worse than hypocrisy in friendship.”
— Joseph Hall

How To Spot A False Teacher

II Peter 2

“But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as
there will be false teachers among you.”
(II Peter 2:1)

Thoughts… Oswald Chambers said, “The Bible treats us as human life does—roughly.” In the entire second chapter of Peter’s second letter, the Apostle really goes after some people—and he treats them roughly. He is going after false teachers—religious figures who pervert the Gospel for personal gain and manipulate God’s people for their own pleasure.

Peter is telling us to be on the lookout for such people. His message is clear: We are not to be duped by these phony spiritual leaders. And by the way, in case you didn’t know it, there are plenty of them even in our day. Just surf through the religious program on your TV set and you will see one before you know it. But they’re not just on TV; they are in denominational headquarters, they teach in seminary classes, they fill pulpits and lead small groups all around the world.

So how do you spot them? It’s not all that hard really, because no matter what era you are in or what position of authority they are in, these phonies fall into predictable patterns. You can spot them because they are always grubbing for money or they are always trolling for sex or they are always maneuvering for power—or all three.

If you spot a religious figure who seems to be preoccupied with money—watch out! I’ve seen plenty of pastors and TV preachers who were pretty good at that. They are slick, so don’t be fooled! Peter says “in their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money.” (verse 3)

Likewise, if you run into a spiritual authority that seems to be a little too loose with the girls (or the guys)—have nothing to do with them. They are bad news, and when they fall, they will take people down with them. Peter says that God will be “especially hard on those who follow their own twisted sexual desire and who despise authority.” (verse 10) If a spiritual leader is unwilling to be accountable for his sexuality, that is the kind of person Peter is talking about.

And finally, whenever you find a religious figure that is egotistical, prideful, and self-serving—you have found the makings of a false teacher. When you get on the inside of their world and you don’t see humility, sacrifice and grace, you’ve got a leader who is, among other things, driven by power. Peter warns of them in the last part of verse 10, “These people are proud and arrogant, daring even to scoff at supernatural beings without so much as trembling.” Verse 13 says, “they scoff at things they don’t understand.” Verse 18 tells us, “They brag about themselves with empty, foolish boasting.”

Peter is really quite rough on these people: “These people are as useless as dried-up springs or as mist blown away by the wind. They are doomed to blackest darkness.” (verse 17) He calls them “a disgrace and a stain among you.” And he says, “they live under God’s curse.” (verses 13-14)

Tough chapter, I know. But as I mentioned at the beginning, the Bible sometimes treats us roughly in order to protect us from evil influences and preserve our salvation. And as it relates to so-called spiritual leaders, it is time we do the same.

A little rough treatment might clear some of them out of the body of Christ and off the airways.

Prayer… Lord, cleanse your church. Make us a holy Bride, without any spot, or wrinkle, or blemish. Give us greater discernment and courage to root out the false teachers among us so that we can be the kind of church with whom you are well pleased and in which the world can find no fault.

One More Thing… “Hypocrisy desires to seem good rather than to be so; honesty desires to be good rather than seem so.” —Arthur Warwick