Why is the Church responsible for so much injustice? Why are Christians such hypocrites?
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – June 2nd, 2019
- This morning we are dealing with the issues of injustice and hypocrisy in the church. It is true that people, in the name of God and Christ, along with those whose talk and actions are not in alignment, have done great damage in our world. These are very grievous sins because they not only do great damage, but they affect people’s view of and relationship with God. This has eternal significance.
- The harshest words Jesus spoke were to the religious leaders. A whole chapter of the gospel of Matthew is dedicated to Jesus’ scathing rebuke of them to the religious leaders of all time. Here are just a few lines of this stinging rebuke:
Matt 23:13-15 ESV
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
- Jesus’ condemning remarks carry on for this whole chapter, where God makes it clear what He thinks and how He feels about these things. We never have to guess where God stands on religious abuse and hypocrisy, especially among the leaders.
- These things happen for a number of reasons:
- Pride – we want to be right, recognized and respected
- Power – people use and abuse it for their own advantage
- Satan – those in the church are targets
- Ignorance – of what the Bible is about and what it teaches
- Sin – our hearts are bent toward evil
- We are prone toward all of these things, and when we give into them, horrible things happen, God’s name is dishonored, and people are eternally impacted. For the remainder of this message we are going to focus on how to overcome these things with our focus on one passage of scripture from the book of James.
Overcome pride with humility
James 4:6 ESV
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
- God does not just tolerate pride, He opposes it. This is not a passive or neutral stance – it is an active, intentional position of opposition to the proud. This makes everything hard. We think we are “all that” and God says, “Oh, really?” and then shows us who we really are in light of who He is.
- Pride says that we are “better than” -pride puts us and everyone on a scale from better to worse based upon certain attributes. Pride looks down on others and exults itself. Pride perverts love, justice and relationships.
1 Peter 5:5-6 ESV
Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,
- “Clothe yourselves” – we are the ones who are responsible for this, it is a choice to “put it on.” This is how people see us. Humility is the true cover for our nakedness. (So often we choose pride to cover ourselves). God is the one who will exalt us – pride exults ourselves but in humility God exalts us.
Overcome power with submission
James 4:7a ESV
Submit yourselves therefore to God.
- Submission is not weakness, but wisdom in acknowledging one who is greater and superior to you. You will not abuse your power when you know that you will give an account to one who is greater than you.
Heb 4:13 ESV
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.
- This is for all of us, and it is doubly true for spiritual leaders.
Heb 13:17 ESV
they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.
- So, the solution of abuse of power to is follow the teaching of Jesus:
Mark 10:42-45 ESV
“You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- True leadership in Christianity is that of a servant and slave to all: to help others, to serve others, to equip others, to bless others. This is Christian leadership and this is Christ.
Overcome Satan with resistance
James 4:7b ESV
Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
- This is active, intentional, attentive resistance. This is keeping guard, this is watching out, and this is resisting His activity and advancement. If you resist, you will win. But also recognize that He is very cunning and does not fight fair.
Eph 6:9 ESV
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
- Our job is to recognize and stand against his “schemes” – his cunning and sometimes elaborate plans to bring us down. He works both from the outside in, and most sinisterly from the inside out. The more damage he can do, the stronger he works to do it.
Overcome ignorance with abiding
James 4:8a ESV
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
- This is drawing near to God- not just learning His word, but understanding His heart and walking in His ways.
John 8:31-32 ESV
“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
- You are truly a disciple if you abide in His word. And if you are abiding in His word, you will know the truth and His truth is what will truly set you free – of bondage and in a way that you desire to live. This is the only way in which we can bear the fruit of God.
John 15:4 ESV
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
- We are also charged to keep a close watch of ourselves and our teaching.
1 Tim 4:16 ESV
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
- We can stray away from the truth, take a hard look at your life and the “truth” that you are living by. Does it line up with the word? If not, realign yourself to the word.
Overcome sin with repentance
James 4:8b-10 ESV
Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
- Repentance is more than saying “I’m sorry.” It is intentionally turning from your direction and going a different way. Repentance is a having your whole-self engaged in the change- mental, emotional, spiritual and physical.
Acts 26:20 ESV
that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance
- The only way that we know people are repentant is if their deeds display it.
- How you represent Christ matters
2 Cor 5:20-21
Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
- We are representatives – ambassadors – God is making His appeal – through us! His is the highest honor and greatest calling anyone can receive. Treat this as sacred, let this be what you live for above other things. Put all that we have talked about into practice.