This year at the school where I teach, we are celebrating the school’s 100 year anniversary. As one of the events each week, students are allowed to dress up in different fun outfits. We’ve recently had “Wacky/Tacky Day” and “Superhero/Villain Day.” My fourth graders really enjoy dressing up and the teachers are having fun with it as well.
All this reminded me that sometimes we Christians “dress-up” if you will, putting on the facade of a good follower of Christ, pretending we don’t have any sin in our lives (at least not the big ones) and making sure that we look good for the other religious people we associate with. The Bible calls this type of behavior pretending or hypocrisy and Jesus was very adamant about teaching against it.
You see, being a penitent sinner is not really the problem. Paul taught us what it looks like to humbly admit that we need God’s grace (1 Timothy 1:15). The problem lies when we are hypocrites, putting on a show for God and others. And God can see right through our feeble attempts to look perfect all the time. In order to be cleansed by the blood of Christ, we must first admit that we need cleansing. 1 John 1:8-9 reads, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
But this is not just an outward cleansing. If we wear the right clothes and the right smile, if we outwardly put on the label “Christian” and don’t change our hearts, then we’re only fooling ourselves. Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew 23:25-26, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”
Every day of our lives is an opportunity to come clean. It’s a chance to realize that self-help doesn’t work for the soul. We must make the journey of confession with God and allow him to transform us on the inside into the righteous and holy vessel that he can use to do his work here on earth.
“Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.”