April 19, 2015

Psalm 78:36-37 But then they would flatter him with their mouths,
lying to him with their tongues;
their hearts were not loyal to him,
they were not faithful to his covenant.

This whole rather long Psalm is a litany of how Israel would go through cycle after cycle of obeying God and then rebelling against Him, and how God put up with it all. This particular snippet from the Psalm describes the hypocritical stage of that cycle. We human beings have a remarkable ability to say and do one thing on the surface and be something entirely different underneath. This Psalm makes it clear that doesn’t work, because God always sees through whatever sham we put up. Jesus’ harshest word against people was to call them hypocrites. God doesn’t want our ceremonies, He wants our hearts. We can be so stupid, thinking that God doesn’t notice things, when actually He is aware of every little detail. When you come right down to it, when you consider how perfectly pure and holy He is, it’s a wonder He doesn’t zap us all! That’s why the Bible talks over and over about God is “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” (Exodus 34:6-7) The problem is, we tend to presume on that, forgetting that when God gave that description of Himself He went on to say, “Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:7) America is at what I would hope is a peak of rebellion at this point. (I don’t see how it could get much worse.) God’s clearly expressed laws and standards are being flouted in more ways than I could list. As someone has said, if God doesn’t bring judgment on America, He owes an apology to Sodom and Gomorrah! One of Satan’s lies is that the individual is powerless in the face of all this filth in society. However, society is made up of individuals, and it will change only as individuals decide to be different. Not until individuals choose to walk in personal holiness will society move away from being so profane. This is most evident in homes, where parents need to set holy examples for their children, not pretending to be perfect but always having the standard of Christ, of the Bible, before them. As Paul said, we are to “not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)

I’ve got to be as careful of this as anyone, if not more so, because as a pastor I am an example to many. The world constantly pulls us to conform to it, and we become hypocritical without even recognizing it. Statistics show shockingly little difference between Christians and non-Christians in a wide range of attitudes and behaviors. I am not to accept that lying down! Legalism is not the answer, but I must always call people to purity and devotion, to placing Christ ahead of the world on every level. And calling others to do it, I must do so myself!

Father, thank You for Your amazing patience and mercy. I have taken your grace for granted more times than I like to think about, and really, more times than I know. I ask Your forgiveness, and I thank You for Your promise of cleansing. (1 John 1:9) May I walk in pure devotion and lead others to do the same, so that we will not deceive ourselves (James 1:22) but live as Your children indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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