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OUTSIDE THE 65: Removing Our Masks

Outside the 65:

1. Do you remember your first taste of hypocrisy? Do you remember when someone tricked you as a child and for the first time you realized that people are not always what they seem to be?

From that time on you realize that when people talk there could be an angle or a spin and you have to run everything through a filter of suspicion. There are a few places in our world where you expect there to be truth. You expect and would hope for truth in those who enforce the law. You expect truth from those who take care of your money at the local bank. You expect truth in the church.

2. Do you remember your first taste of hypocrisy with organized religion? Do you remember the first time someone in the church that you thought was a great Christian made a choice that led to public exposure of their sin and how disappointed you felt when you heard the news. Or maybe you saw someone do something that you knew was wrong but you also knew they professed to be a follower of Christ.

3. Do you remember the first time you saw hypocrisy operating in your own life? Do you remember looking in the mirror of your own life and realizing that you were not what you were projecting to everyone around you?

All of us hate hypocrisy. We hate it in our friends, we hate it in the church and if we are really honest we hate it in ourselves.

4.  Did you ever wonder why God is so adamantly opposed to hypocrisy among His
people? Out of all the Bible God is clearer about His hatred for hypocrisy more than anything else.

The harshest words ever spoken by Jesus Christ when He walked on this planet were reserved for those that were hypocrites. In Matthew 23 Jesus unloaded on the Pharisees of the day with a whole chapter full of critical words. In fact I would encourage you to read it in the Message Bible and you will truly see the intensity with which God hates hypocrisy.

In Acts 5 you can read the story of a couple that lied and died because of their hypocrisy. It’s the early church and because they lied and represented themselves as something they weren’t the Lord took their lives.

There is no question in my mind that God hates hypocrisy.

For the next four weeks we are going to examine this subject from chapter five of the book of Ephesians. Let me tell you my motivation for this topic. All of us have the potential to wear masks in our lives and hide behind something that we are not. All of us need to hear and take to heart the words that the Holy Spirit will speak into our hearts. My prayer is that all of us will allow God to put His finger on our lives and that we will respond by praying and committing to living an authentic life. A life of surrender to God and His ways especially outside of the 65 minutes you spend in this room each week. 

Living

Two Commands for Every Christfollower to Follow

 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.  Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT

The book of Ephesians is an amazing book that explains in the first three chapters that we are to have new life, new birth and a new identity in Christ. We are taught that when we receive Christ as our Savior, we are like a caterpillar that is transformed from a creature that crawls to one that flies. The second half of the book says that since we have experienced Christ live in a way that is pleasing to God.

There are two commands for every Christian.

1. Mimic God  

You and I do this with our earthly parents. We pick up traits and actions that we learned from our youth. These behaviors follow us into our adult lives. In the same way we should strive to know as much about God as we possibly can so that our lives mimic or imitate Him. This is not a suggestion or just a happy thought.

Look at this scripture again:

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.  Ephesians 5:1-2 NLT

2. Love People 

God expects us to follow the example of Christ in our love for others. We are to be warm, accepting, and loving to the point that it costs us something. Don’t love because of what they will do for you but love them sacrificially.

Every authentic follower of Christ will mimic God and love people in this way. That means in the church and outside of the church context. That means when we are in this building and when we are in the places we spend most of our time each week. That means when people are looking on and we want a good reputation and it means when we are with those we are most familiar with. (Familiarity can and often does breed contempt)

We are to imitate God and love people. Those are the positives but what about the negatives side. There are two warnings for every Christfollower to pay attention to.

Two Cautions for Every Christfollower to Heed

3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
 6 Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.
Ephesians 5:3-6 NLT

If you are a child of God or a follower of Christ there are some things that you will not do. According to the strength of these verses this is not optional. This is not something that we can do behind closed doors and get away with it. This is serious and produces destruction in our spiritual lives. 

Loving people is about giving, serving, wanting what’s best for the benefit of others.
Lust is about satisfying, grabbing, taking and getting, using and abusing.
Love is about others and lust is about us. 

If you are going to walk in Christ’s love you can’t be about sexual immorality. 

1. Don’t “use” people to satisfy your own selfish lustful agenda (especially
with regard to human sexuality).

We live in a society that sadly has been taken over by and is driven by lust. You and I have a choice to make in our lives. Do we engage with the culture and just take in what everyone else takes in so that we can be cool and fit in or do we develop some convictions based on the word of God that change us and give us a sensitivity to sin?

2. Don’t let anyone “deceive” you into thinking that selfish, lustful, me-centered
behavior is compatible with mimicking God and loving people.

I really wish I could find a way to find the people in this room that want to live 100 percent for God. There is a longing in my heart to find a people that believe the Bible enough to allow it to change their lives. There is a growing desire deep inside of me that longs to find people to invest my life with that hunger and thirst for righteousness instead of just living in this world and letting life sort of just float by.

I don’t want to laugh at the same things this world thinks are funny.
I don’t want to be like the proverbial frog in the kettle that is oblivious to the water being heated up slowly and dies from unawareness.

I long to know Christ in a way that will affect every relationship I am in. I long to lead a church that is known for what happens in our lives outside of the 65 minutes on a Sunday morning.

Following Christ means we don’t compartmentalize our lives. 

Following Christ and sexual immorality don’t mix. 

Following Christ and being greedy and self centered don’t mix. 

Following Christ and lying at work don’t mix. 

Saying I love God and living according to my own selfish desires means I am a hypocrite.

That is why you hate other people that live this way. That is why you sometimes hate the church and why sometimes you even hate yourself. You are right in line with God on this one because He also hates hypocrisy. It produces pain and  hurt.

Two Applications for every Christfollower to Practice

7 Don’t participate in the things these people do. 8 For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! 9 For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true. 

Those of us in this room that have taken on Christ should be living in the light. If there was ever a test as to the validity or authenticity of your actual faith in Christ and salvation this is it. What does it mean to walk in the light? It means it will produce only what is good and right and true. 

Walk in goodness: benevolence, caring for others that are in need. 

Walk in righteousness: pure and holy in your thoughts and in your minds and what comes over the screen of the computer or the television. (Magazines and shows and books) 

This is not a self righteous kind of personal holiness but a winsome pure holy life produced by the fact that you desire to imitate Christ and be real in your faith. You hunger for holiness because you have taken the time to pick up the bible and you are walking daily in a relationship with God. He talks with you through the word. He nudges you toward holiness because you are sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading in your life. 

Walk in truth: Not just externally but in your motives. You and I prove our authenticity in the crucibles of life by walking in the truth that we have embraced through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

 10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret.” Ephesians 5:7-12 NLT   (Spend time here)

13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,
   “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
Ephesians 5:13-14 NLT

1. Don’t take part in worthless deeds of evil.

2. Do practice walking in the light. 

Let’s take a little personal inventory for a moment:
Ask yourself these questions.

Does my speech demonstrate walking in the light or “deeds of darkness.” 

Does my thought life and sexual life demonstrate walking in the light or deeds of darkness? 

Does my integrity with my spouse or those around me demonstrate. . . . .

Does my commitment to my marriage or children. . .

Does my conduct at work demonstrate. . .

One of the most public well known actions of hypocrisy is found in the Bible. His name was Judas and he was a follower and disciple of Christ for three years. Right before our Lord’s capture and death it was this Judas that greeted Jesus with a kiss. He made a mockery out of a universal sign of love and brotherhood. His very act was his hypocrisy for those with him were to take into custody the person he kissed.

When we name the name of Christ on Sunday but live however we please the rest of the time we are Judas. We look at him with criticism and judgment but those of us who don’t walk in the light we have been given are no better than this historical figure from the Bible.

If you say I know Jesus and I love God but your actions and motives and sexual life and the way you treat your money and the way you treat other people is more like darkness that light you are more like Judas than Jesus. 

A rather pompous-looking deacon was endeavoring to impress upon a class of boys the importance of living the Christian life. "Why do people call me a Christian?" the man asked. After a moment’s pause, one youngster said, "Maybe it’s because they don’t know you." 

13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,
   “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

There are two things that happen when we live in the light:

Two Results of Christfollowers Living in the Light Outside the 65!

1. When believers walk in the light (mimic God and love people), they winsomely “expose” evil and sin as the ugly agents of death that they are.

2. When unbelievers see and interact with authentic (non-hypocritical) Christians, the light of Christ shines upon them and invites them to turn from the deception of sin and death and receive God’s love and forgiveness through a relationship with Christ.

This is why God hates hypocrisy so much. A major part of our own redemption is to be His light on this earth. When we don’t live in Him and walk in the light we destroy His witness on this earth. I just had a conversation this week with someone I care about a lot but because of the pain caused by being in a church where people had a lot of exterior testimony in the way they dressed and even certain things they did and did not do. This person said with conviction that they were pretty sure most people in churches including pastors were hypocrites. What they remember is being part of a church that fought and gossiped and hated each other to the point that it destroyed any chance of the light of Christ shining through. My heart broke as I listened because I’ve seen that side of hypocrisy in the church but thankfully I also saw some men and women who were the real deal. They really loved God. They opened His word everyday and spent time talking with Him. They loved God. They really really loved God.

So Where Do We Go from Here?

15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.  Ephesians 5:15-16 NLT

The proportion of our authenticity is the degree to which there is evil in this community and in our world.

See how you live. Examine your life carefully.

 A Word to Christfollowers: Walk wisely!

Why? – There’s so much at stake.

Let’s learn together for the next few weeks how to be real and be alive in our walk of faith.

A Word to Non-Christfollowers: Awake Sleeper!

Why? – There’s so much at stake.

In the book, No Bad Dogs, by British dog trainer Barbara Woodhouse, she says dogs understand love better than we do. She writes, “In a dog’s mind, a master or a mistress to love, honor, and obey is an absolute necessity. The love is dormant in the dog until brought into full bloom by an understanding owner. Thousands of dogs appear to love their owners, they welcome them home with enthusiastic wagging of the tail and jumping up, they follow them about their houses happily and, to the normal person seeing the dog, the affection is true and deep. But to the experienced dog trainer this outward show is not enough. 

The true test of love takes place when the dog has got the opportunity to go out on its own as soon as the door is left open by mistake and it goes off and often doesn’t return home for hours. That dog loves only its home comforts and the attention it gets from its family; it doesn’t truly love the master or mistress as they fondly think. True love in dogs is apparent when a door is left open and the dog still stays happily within earshot of its owner. For the owner must be the be-all and end-all of a dog’s life.”

The real test of our walk of Faith isn’t seen in our work or activity, or even in our theological purity. It’s found in this: when we have an opportunity to wander away, to disobey, to leave His presence, do we choose instead to stay close to Him, to abide in Christ, to obey?

There is a story about a man who was born with an awful facial deformity. He grew up alone and lonely. When reaching adulthood, he decided to move from his town to begin a new life. On his way he discovered a beautiful mask that fit his making him look handsome. At first the mask was uncomfortable and he was afraid that people would find out who he really was, but he continued to wear the mask everyday.

In his new hometown, he made many friends and fell in love. But one day a wicked woman from his old home came to his town and discovered this man’s true identity. In front of his friends and fiancé, she forced him to remove his mask. When he removed the mask, it revealed a handsome face. His face had conformed to the mask.

Becoming like Christ is analogous to this. Go ahead and put on Christ. At first it may feel unnatural or uncomfortable, and maybe you may think, “who am I trying to fool?” But everyday just keep putting on Christ and everyday you will grow to look more like him.

Prayer:

Benediction: May your love abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Amen.

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2010/01/10