CHRISTIAN ACTORS: “Saving grace” or “saving face”

Jesus used the term “hypocrite” when talking to the intellectual, polished, high society Pharisees who were more interested in “saving face” then showing grace.  The term “hypocrite” was a Greek term for an actor who wore a mask.  Pharisees were most likely convinced that they were gracious, loving, and non-judgmental, much like many Christians today.  Ironically, many of the Christians who are called Pharisees today are seldom Pharisees, and usually the ones doing the “name-calling” and failing to show grace are a closer fit to those legalistic men of the New Testament era.

For example, the Pharisees were compared to “white-washed” tombs.  In other words, they looked all nice and polished on the outside with their eloquence, moral lifestyle, and self-important sense of “knowing the Word”, but they were full of rot.  Jesus spoke of how keeping the law in the matter of adultery is not enough.  The eyes must be kept from wandering in lust.  Jesus stated that avoiding murder is good, but one must also avoid hate.  The Pharisees kept the law but evidently they only kept the law that was written.  If the law didn’t say it, they seemingly felt they had the “right” to do whatever sins were available at the time.  In other words, a Pharisee could pride themselves in having never murdered or committed adultery, while their heart was full of hate and lust.  They could prove to you that GOD’s law never once said “Thou shalt not lust” or “Thou shalt not hate”.  How is this different from those today who violate Biblical standards of decency, modesty, and music by stating the Bible didn’t say “thou shalt not”?

Jesus stated that the Pharisees were overly generous in some areas such as tithing. They even paid tithe of their herbs.  But imagine how easy it would be for a rich Pharisee to pay tithes off everything he owned though.  They wouldn’t really even miss the loss of the herbs or other offerings they gave to GOD, while a widow who gave one mite would feel the loss all week long.  In other words, the Pharisees were willing at times to keep more than the law when it was at no sacrifice to their own convenience, but on the other hand, when something interfered with their pleasure or desires, they could just as quickly point out smugly how the Bible didn’t say that “xyz” was a sin (i.e. lust, murder, etc).  They could quickly justify themselves based upon popular belief or tradition rather than following the Spirit of GOD.

We have far too many Americans who wear the title of “Christian” who are doing the same today.  They point out how righteous they are for not committing crimes such as murder or adultery, but they listen to lustful and occult-exalting rock music, watch lustful or occult-exalting TV programs or movies, and hang out at spots in town that they know are all about fleshly, worldly living while doing the same things as those without the Spirit do (and sometimes worse).  They flirt with sin and sometimes their friend’s spouses, but feel justified that there is “no verse condemning that”.   If you share your belief that perhaps a skimpy bikini may not be the best way to represent Jesus Christ or tell them a personal “lesson learned” from your life on how certain entertainment affected your Christian walk, these modern-day “Pharisees” turn upon you with a vengeance and a name-calling extravaganza or they simply ignore you and consider you to be an “extremist” for wanting to obey the Word of GOD beyond just the “letter of the Law”.  Seldom do people in American churches today share what the Holy Spirit has taught them about applying the Bible to their everyday life the past week.  Instead, most church members seek to see how close to the pattern of the world they can live. If another believer is offended by something they do, instead of admitting their sin or at least honoring a brother’s conscience if there is no sin involved, they immediately seek how to “save face” by giving a lecture on why they would never commit sin and how silly the fellow believer is for being offended.  They furthermore refuse to give up their liberty and prefer to offend the brother for two reasons: “saving face” and convenience (they want it, so “deal with it”).  In essence, we have two types of “Pharisees” today who preach the “letter of the law” instead of the letter being applied by the Spirit.  The more “Stoic” Christians are on one side who feel justified by GOD if they keep just their list and the “Epicurean” Christians on the other side who feel justified for keeping just their list.  For example, a Stoic-like believer may say “I don’t take showers on Sunday to avoid breaking the Sabbath, so I’m spiritual” even while their heart is full of evil.  On the other hand, an Epicurean-like Christian may say “The Bible doesn’t say anything against watching this TV show, so I’m spiritual”.  Neither of them are listening to the Holy Spirit and His application.

Most Christians today want to do the things that are most convenient for themselves and then take spiritual pride in their choices.  For example, someone who is very good at dieting may proudly talk about their wise eating choices, while talking down about those who don’t eat as healthy.  This is like the Pharisees.  On the other hand, the same person may love to go to the beach and wear their bikini to show off all the work they did on their body (and we see their true motive for the diet was not love for GOD but a desire to gain attention).  In other words, Christians tend to become super-pious over things that they are  “getting right” and they tend to use the old “I don’t see that in the Bible” defense over things they are “getting wrong”.

Paul the apostle told us to not pattern ourselves after the world in Romans 12:1-2, but told us to rather be transformed (like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly is the idea in the Greek) by the renewing of our mind in the Word.

Many who call themselves “Christian” today are refusing to be gracious to a fellow believer who has problems of conscience with what they are doing.  Isn’t this just like the Pharisees?  Did they not talk of loving GOD and others while disobeying the Word?

Jesus Christ defined love and grace.

“If you love me, obey my commandments.” – John 14:15

“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:19-20

“But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world stands, lest I make my brother to offend.” – I Corinthians 8:12-13

America needs less intellectuals and theologians with soft hands and soft clothes speaking soft words like the Pharisees, and we need more humble “fishermen” and “tax collectors” changed by the power of Christ with the filling of the Spirit.

Jesus told those who questioned His teaching that they were in error, because they did not know the Scripture or the Power of GOD.  Without the Word and the Spirit (both), we are unable to be saved, discern the proper interpretation of Scripture, or correctly apply the principles of Scripture to our lives.

Music reflects attitude. Remember how David played his harp and the evil spirit would stop troubling Saul?  I believe this phenomenon was because the evil spirit couldn’t stand to be around music that reflected a humble, GOD-submissive attitude in the music style.  The raucous, rebellious sound of music is what a rebel prefers and are not all demons by their very nature rebels? Obedience reflects love. Prophet Samuel pointed out that rebellion and stubbornness were at the heart of the attitude that Saul, Israel’s first king, had toward GOD. Saul wanted to do “good things for GOD” but his own way. That’s the American church in a nutshell … and sadly our nation is paying the price.  However, as the Bible also reminds us, it is never too late to turn around (II Chronicles 7:14) and repent.  We must repent and turn back to GOD and fear Him soon or we can expect the same punishment that many other nations received throughout history.

“Because I have called and you refused to listen,
have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
Because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when terror strikes you,
When terror strikes you like a storm
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
When distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
They will seek me diligently but will not find me.

Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices.
For the simple are killed by their turning away,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
But whoever listens to me will dwell secure
and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

– Proverbs 1:24-33