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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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A LIFESTYLE OF FORGIVENESS

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32 ESV)

unforgivenessUnforgiveness can affect every facet of your personal life. It impacts the mind and spirit, and creates tension and anxiety. Most importantly, unforgiveness is the disobedience of God’s Word. (Matthew 6:15 ESV)

Unforgiveness may lock the mind in an ongoing stressful state. (“The Negative Effects of Unforgiveness on Mental Health”, Theravive April 28, 2014) Researchers report that people who tend to be unforgiving reported higher rates of heart disease, elevated blood pressure, stomach ulcers, arthritis, back problems, headaches, and chronic pain than those who reported they do not have this characteristic. (Feldman and Kravetz, “Grudge Match: Can Unforgiveness Be Bad For Our Health?Psychology Today 2013)

Unforgiveness is not a desirable characteristic for either the physical or spiritually healthy life. Jesus said:

Continue reading

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THE REAL DEAL

Samuel A Cain“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1 ESV)

And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:15 ESV)

Augustine wrote, “It is not the being seen of men that is wrong, but doing these things for the purpose of being seen of men. The problem with the hypocrite is his motivation. He does not want to be holy; he only wants to seem to be holy. He is more concerned with his reputation for righteousness than about actually becoming righteous. The approbation of men matters more to him than the approval of God.” As a Christian, do you seek to avoid this obvious hypocrisy in your own life?

The Apostle John teaches us that if we believe and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ, we know that we abide in Christ and Christ in us. (1 John 3:24 ESV) We can believe and obey because God has given us His Holy Spirit. We may cast off the chain of sins and lies which made us hypocrites and be renewed after the image of our creator. (Colossians 3:7-10 ESV) We now live by faith in the Son of God. (Galatians 2:20 ESV) Continue reading

The Church and the Hypocrite

We must be careful when looking for evidence that someone else is a Christian. We make the mistake of thinking that every Christian should look exactly like us. There is a much higher standard! Are you consistently trying to walk in holiness? Does even a “little sin” in your life bring you to your knees to ask forgiveness? Charles Spurgeon, in the following article, takes an uncompromising stand on the great gap between holiness and hypocrisy:

Oh! The great thing the Church needs is more holiness. The worst enemies of the Church are the hypocrites, the formalists, the mere professors, the inconsistent walkers.

It is shocking to think how persons dare to remain members of Christian churches, and even to enter the pulpit, when they are conscious that their private life is foul. Oh, how can they do it? How is it that their hearts have grown so hard? What! Has the devil bewitched them? Has he turned them away from being men, and made them as devilish as himself, that they should dare to pray in public, and to sit at the sacramental table, and to administer ordinances, while their hands are foul, and their hearts unclean and their lives are full of sin?

I charge you, if there are any of you whose lives are not consistent, give up your profession, or else make your lives what they should be. May the eternal Spirit, who still winnows his Church, blow away the chaff, and leave only the good golden wheat upon the floor!

And if you know yourselves to be living in any sin, may God help you to mourn over it, to loathe it, to go to Christ about it tonight; to take hold of him, to wash his feet with your tears, to repent unfeignedly, and then to begin anew in his strength, a life which shall be such as becomes the gospel. (“The Gospel’s Power in a Christian’s Life” No. 640)

The Hypocrite

The hypocrite is all show in the effort to hide his wickedness. Yet, we still find him sinful in deed. Pilate might have thought he could convince the world that he had a tender heart. Still, he may wash his hands as much as he wills, but he has no true claim to innocence. God sees it all. Thomas Watson (1620-1686) provides more insight into the nature of hypocrites below:

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13 ESV)

I shall give you two distinguishing characters whereby you may know a hypocrite. He is one that is partial in his goodness; zealous in lesser things, and remiss in greater: as Luther complained of some in his time, and our Savior in his time, which ‘strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.’ He is one that sweats only in some part, but is cool in all the rest, which is a sign his zeal is distempered. He is zealous against a ceremony, a relic or painted glass (not that I plead for these), but in the mean time lives in known sin, lying, cozening, extortion, &c. Just as the High Priests, ‘It is not lawful, say they, to put the money into the treasury, because it is the price of blood,’ Matt. 27.6. They speak like conscientious men. Oh do not defile the treasury! But let me ask the question, why did they shed that blood? It was innocent blood. They will not take the price of blood into the treasury, but they never scruple to take the guilt of blood into their souls. They were zealous for the temple, but in the mean time murderers of the Son of God. And we have a parallel scripture to this, Rom. 2.22. ‘Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?’ Who at the first blush would not have taken these for very holy, devout men that were zealous against idolatry? But see a root of hypocrisy! They were partially good, they hated one sin, but not another; idolatry, but not sacrilege. Though it was an abominable sin, and there was an express law of God against it; yet these seeming zealots make no conscience of robbing God of his tithes.

And here as in a scripture looking-glass, we may see our own faces; have we not many now-a-days seemingly zealous against popery? If they see a cross, (though it be in a coat of arms), they are much offended, and are in a kind of convulsion: but in the mean time make no conscience of sacrilege, starving out the ministry, they put out the fire on God’s altar, shut the doors of his temple; is not this visible hypocrisy? There are some, it may be, will not be heard to swear, it will not stand with their saintship; (this were to call the devil father aloud,) but they will defraud and defame, which is a sin they can never satisfy for; take away a man’s name, what mends can you make him? It is no better than murder; and if these be saints, there are as good saints in hell.

The second character of a hypocrite is that he makes religion a mask to cover his sin. Herod pretended to worship Christ, but his zeal was no other than malice, for it was to have destroyed him. Thus oft bad purposes lie hid under good pretenses. Jezebel, that she may dissemble her murderous intentions, proclaims a fast. Absalom, to color over his treason, pretends a religious vow. How cunning is the heart to go to hell; sometimes covetousness pretends conscience; Judas fisheth for money under a pretence of religion, ‘This ointment might have been sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor,’ John 12.5. How charitable Judas was! But his charity began at home, for he carried the bag. Many make religion a cloak for their ambition, ‘Come, see my zeal, saith Jehu, for the Lord.’ 1 Kings 10.16. No, Jehu, thy zeal was for the kingdom. It was not zeal, but state-policy. Jehu made religion hold the stirrup till he got possession of the crown; here was double-dyed hypocrisy. (“God’s Anatomy Upon Man’s Heart”)

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