How to Become a Christian: Chapter 14 - Step one - repent

Don’t be phoney or hypocritical

God sees and knows everything.  There is no point even attempting to trick Him or hide things from Him,  hoping He won’t notice.  He can never be deceived and He never misses anything: 

Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."                                2 Timothy 2:19 (NIV)

There are many people in churches who say that they are Christians but are living a double life.  They attend church, participate in worship, listen to teaching, and even teach others.  Yet, they brazenly lie, cheat, gossip, engage in adultery, or fornication (sex outside of marriage) are lazy, selfish, manipulative, crafty and self-indulgent.  This kind of hypocrisy is not something exceptional or rare.  It is commonplace. 

Insincere, unrepentant Christians make poor employees or work colleagues. They also bring dishonour to the name of Jesus through their attitudes and life style.  I am not just speaking about the day to day ways in which we all fail by losing our tempers or being unreasonable, although that is bad enough.  I mean blatant and shameless sin, which they have no intention of doing anything about, and for which they feel no sorrow or conviction. 

If you challenge their behaviour they will not feel ashamed.  On the contrary, they will be defensive and angry and will brazenly deny it, even if they are clearly guilty.  They will often even turn on you resentfully and attack you verbally.  This happened to me once when I challenged the leader of the church that I was in at that time.  I was chairman of the trustees of the church, responsible for paying salaries etc. 

I went to see the leader privately, one to one, in the biblical way, as out in Matthew 18:15.  I raised with him my growing concerns about his worldly lifestyle and lack of personal honesty.  He was developing a reputation in the town as a liar and as a carnal, boastful person.  I tried to appeal to him in private, as gently and politely as I could, to look at his life and to repent.  But he would not.  He was defiant and just attacked me verbally and then tried to undermine me to others. 

I then went to speak to the other leaders in the church about this, in the way we are told to do by Jesus in Matthew 18:16.  To my surprise, they weren’t interested either. They just criticised me for asking questions.  Some of them were very hostile, especially one particular man in the leadership team.  I couldn’t understand it.  After some months of this conflict we left that church.

Some time later it all made a lot more sense when it emerged that the leader had left his wife for another woman, and was giving up church ministry.  What’s more, it emerged that the hostile man in the senior leadership team had also been involved for some time in an adulterous affair.  No wonder he had been so touchy about the questions I was putting to the leader.  He had been doing even worse things himself, although  I did not know it at the time.

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