Episode 1. Spotting the Fake
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If there’s one thing that most of us can’t stand it’s a fake, a hypocrite. Someone who’s one thing on the outside and something different on the inside. And when that fake, that hypocrite …
If there’s one thing that most of us can’t stand, it’s a fake, a hypocrite. Someone who’s one thing on the outside and something quite different on the inside. And when that fake, that hypocrite is us – it can end up tearing you apart.
I don’t know about you but if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a fake. A product that doesn’t do what the advertisers claim that it will do. A person who says one thing but does another. It’s not just dishonest but well, it’s annoying. Because there’s no excuse for it.
Fake is the word we use to describe a thing that falls into that category. But when it comes to a person we have another word. We call them a hypocrite. A hypocrite is someone who lives life by the maxim, ‘Do what I say and not what I do’. A hypocrite is someone who holds themselves out to be one thing but on the inside they’re something entirely different.
Hypocrisy violates trust. And let’s be honest, it’s something we’ve all done. When we go for a job interview we can be so intent on putting our best foot forward that we hold ourselves out to be something that we just aren’t. We so want to impress so that we can win the job, we embellish our abilities and our experience.
You know what I’m talking about. Two faced is another expression we have to describe this disconnect between the person who we are on the inside and who we really are on the outside. Because eventually who we are on the inside shows through. And that’s why it appears that we have two faces. The question is, when we look in the mirror can we spot the fake?
Last week on the program and again this week we’re looking at our hearts. That deep place inside where we live. Where our dreams and motivations and desires and intentions are. The place where we experience joy and pain. Because the heart is so incredibly important.
It’s something I realised when I gave up smoking. I used to smoke 3 packets a day. I was a chain smoker. I was really addicted. I tried to give up, I tried and tried and tried but I never could. I tried and tried and tried again. But one day I was in a room and I watched someone die of cancer. I watched this woman breathe her last breath on this earth. She’d been a smoker.
It’s almost 30 years ago now but I remember as if it was yesterday. I walked out of that room. I took the packet of cigarettes out of my pocket, a gold pack at about half full. I threw them in a grey metal bin and I haven’t had a single cigarette since.
Why? Because I had a change of heart in that room. Watching that woman die moved me so deeply, it changed my heart. And the moment my heart was changed the rest was easy. But for ages before I used to lie to myself and others. I’d pretend I’d given up. I’d kid myself. I’d pretend to others. But you can tell when someone’s had a cigarette. I was trying to be one thing on the outside but I was something else in secret until I had that change of heart.
The heart is so incredibly important because it’s what happens in our hearts that determines how we live our lives. If the stuff going on in our hearts is good then we’ll live a good life. But if it’s rotten, we’ll live a rotten life. You can’t help it. It’s just the way it is.
Psalm 55. It’s a psalm of king David. Have a listen to what he says about a so-called friend:
My companion laid hands on a friend and violated a covenant with me. With speech smoother than butter but with a heart set on war. With words that were softer than oil but in fact were drawn swords.
I love that contrast. “A speech smoother than butter but with a heart set on war”. Do you see the disconnect between what the person was saying, this so-called friend, and what he did. That’s the temptation for all of us. To have deceit and anger and war in our hearts and to pretend to be something else on the outside.
In fact many, many years later the apostle Paul wrote this. You can read it in the New Testament book 2 Timothy chapter 3, beginning at verse 1:
You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable slanderous, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Holding to the outward form of Godliness but denying its power. Avoid them.
See, there it is again. This disconnect between the real person on the inside and what they pretend to be on the outside. They hold to an outward form of Godliness but inside there’s all this rottenness. They pretend to be Godly but they deny the power of God to change their lives.
That’s the problem with being religious. People ask me, “Are you religious?” And I answer, “Absolutely not!” It has absolutely nothing to do with religion for me. It’s about a relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus said the same thing. The hypocritical religious leaders, the Pharisees, appeared to be so Godly, so “goody two shoes” on the outside but listen to what Jesus said to them. Matthew chapter 23, verses 25 and 26:
Woe to you scribes and Pharisees. You hypocrites, for you clean the outside of the cup and the plate but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisees, first clean the inside of the cup so that the outside may also be clean.
And this is the reason that we’ve been talking about the importance of a clean heart over this past week and again this week on the program. Listen to me. Unless God changes our hearts and that’s the power the apostle Paul talks about, nothing’s going to change in our lives.
I tried to give up smoking but it’s not until God changed my heart that it actually became possible. Can I tell you? I tried so hard. I have a strong will okay, I’m not some weak-willed person. I simply couldn’t give up the cigarettes.
But here’s the amazing news. God wants to transform our hearts. He wants to change our hearts. He wants to do things in us that we simply can’t do for ourselves. So even if you or I were heart surgeons, we couldn’t operate on ourselves to clear a blocked artery. You have to get someone else to operate on your heart.
That’s what’s going on here and the heart is who we are deep inside. It’s so important. Because who we are deep down inside is either going to give us a fantastic life. A life that’s a blessing to ourselves and to others. A life where we have the power to love and to sacrifice and to serve. Or it’s going to give us a rotten life. A life of selfishness. A stunted life.
Last week we looked at this verse from the book of Proverbs. Let me ask you to let it become part of who you are and how you live and what you want God to do in you. Proverbs chapter 4, verse 23:
Above all else, guard your heart for it is the well spring of life.
Let’s stop pussy-footing around. Let’s stop tinkering at the edges trying to change this or that. Real change, powerful change, decisive change that once and for all sets us free from the rubbish that’s holding us back, comes from the power of God, the Holy Spirit. God Himself at work in our hearts. Because when He sets us free we will be free indeed.
I believe that God wants to give us a pure heart, a strong heart, a soft heart, a steadfast heart. I believe God wants to hide His word in our hearts. Yours and mine. To do mighty, mighty things that we simply can’t even imagine.