Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Spirituality of the Hypocrite Will Not Save Him

Asaph the Psalmist records a frightening warning to the hypocrite (Psalm 50:16-17):
"To the wicked God says: 
'What right have you to recite my statutes
     or take My covenant on your lips?
For you hate discipline,

     and you cast My words behind you.'"

Let me start with defining a "hypocrite." In the spiritual sense, a hypocrite is a person who claims a spiritual commitment, while living inconsistently with that profession. He is also called a "false professor." We see it used, for example in the words of Jesus (Matthew 23:27): "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness." He compares them to whitewashed tombs, well-decorated on the outside, but putrid on the inside.
The Hypocrite Cannot Bear His True Reflection

That is the type of person who gets God's warning through Asaph's Psalm. He refers to those who act very spiritual, quoting the Scriptures or mouthing claims to God's covenantal blessings. Yet, he tells them, they actually hate the restrictions in God's word, and live as if they have never heard them.

Is this not a description of most of today's professing Christendom? We even have special words for such people: "Sunday Christians," or "carnal Christians." However, in view of God's statement here, is it proper to refer to such people as "Christians"?

God certainly doesn't think so! He continues with this warning (Ps. 50:21-22):
"These things you have done, and I have been silent;
     you thought that I was one like yourself.
But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.
     Mark this, then, you who forget God,
     lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!"

For the hypocrite, He says that there is no deliverer. That means that adding the mere word "Christian" after "carnal" brings no salvation, any more than lipstick on a pig makes it a fashion queen.

The good news is that the Psalm has one more verse, one that gives final hope: "The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!" For the person who has merely mouthed the words of God, when those words become joined with a changed heart, then God's wrath will also be converted, into forgiveness. "Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:12-13).

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