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Honest to God | Getting Rid of the Facade

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
August 12, 2022 3:00 am

Honest to God | Getting Rid of the Facade

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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August 12, 2022 3:00 am

When we hide behind a facade–a false-front–trying to pretend we’re someone we’re not, we’re not fooling God. He knows who we really are. In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves. Today on A NEW BEGINNING, Pastor Greg Laurie points out the peril of living an imitation life. It’s a disappointment to the Lord, and our act may not be believable to those around us either. It’s a good opportunity for a reset, and to live a life of transparent honesty going forward.

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A New Beginning is the daily half-hour program hosted by Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California. For over 30 years, Pastor Greg and Harvest Ministries have endeavored to know God and make Him known through media and large-scale evangelism. This podcast is supported by the generosity of our Harvest Partners.

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Sign up at Better to be an honest sinner than a lying saint or hypocrite. When we hide behind a facade, a false front, trying to pretend we're someone we're not, we're not fooling God, right? He knows who we really are. In fact, He knows us better than we know ourselves. Well, today on A New Beginning, Pastor Greg Laurie points out the peril of living an imitation life. It's a disappointment to the Lord, and our act may not be believable to those around us either.

It's a good opportunity for a reset and to live a life of transparent honesty going forward. The title of my message today is Honest to God. On Halloween, you know, maybe you put on a costume, maybe you put on a mask, and you pretend to be something that you are not.

That's what I want to talk about. And my message today that I'm calling Honest to God is you don't want to be a hypocrite. And a technical definition of a hypocrite is it's someone who's playing a part, someone who is effectively an actor. They're presenting an image that is not really them, and they want you to believe that they are this person. And in context, this would be a person pretending to be a Christian and is actually not a Christian at all.

Now, let's be honest. One of the things that keeps nonbelievers away is hypocrisy in the church, right? How many of you have heard some nonbelievers say, well, the reason I don't go to church is there are too many hypocrites there. Have you heard that one? Yeah, we have all heard it. What are you going to say?

No. Come to our church. It's hypocrite-free.

That's impossible. I sometimes say to people, well, if you find a perfect church and there's no hypocrites in it, please don't join it because you'll ruin it, right? We are imperfect people serving a perfect God. And if we're honest, we all have moments of hypocrisy. But sometimes this is used as an excuse that nonbelievers offer as to why they will not become Christians. I was at a Harley dealership a while ago, and some guy, I was talking to him about the Lord, and he said, well, you know, what about all the different religions that are out there?

How can one belief be true and the others not be true? And at that moment, a really loud Harley road pipe was super loud pipes. I said, you hear that? That is the sound of a genuine Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

And he said, yeah, that's right. And I said, and there's a lot of imitations out there on the road, but there's only one Harley. And I have to say, writing in a Harley myself, when you see someone coming on the other side of the road toward you, if you ride a Harley, you do this little sideways wave. If you're a rider, you know what I'm talking about. You kind of ride, you just kind of go, hey, you like that. But if they're on another kind of motorcycle, you don't acknowledge them, okay?

It's kind of an elitist thing because we think we're cool when we're not, but whatever. But my point was just because there's imitations doesn't mean there is not a genuine, and in fact, the very existence of all the imitation shows there has to be the real one there somewhere. So here's the devil's thinking. He knows there's the genuine Savior, Jesus Christ. He knows it's through Christ that people come to God.

Therefore, he effectively floods the market with cheap imitations to distract and divert people from the real thing. But let's understand what a hypocrite really is. A hypocrite is not a Christian who's following Christ and slips up because of people appointing an accusing finger. You just got angry.

You exceeded the speed limit while you were driving. You were unkind. You didn't do this exactly right. And we all have moments where we don't live up to the standards we have in Scripture and the faith that we have, but that happens. But that's not hypocrisy.

That is, well, humanity. We're all going to fall short, but the difference between a person who falls short and admits it and is sorry for it and tries to do better and a person who's playing a role is is one is trying. One is walking with the Lord. The other isn't walking with the Lord at all.

Look, we're all going to fall short. Even the Apostle Paul admitted his personal struggle. In Romans 7 he said this, I don't understand myself at all. I really want to do what is right and I don't do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate.

I know perfectly well when I'm doing this wrong and my bad conscience shows that I agree that the law is good, but I can't help myself because it's sin inside me that makes me do these evil things. Now that was not Paul's everyday experience, but it was a candid admission. Having said that, that does not mean we're content with the state that we're in because we're always seeking to become more like Jesus and to live godly lives. Paul said in Philippians 3, friends, I'm not all that I should be, but I'm focusing all of my energies on this one thing.

Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. So we're all going to fall short in some way, shape, or form. The fact is the further we go in the Christian life, the more we realize we need to grow.

And so here is the difference. A hypocrite is a person who is putting on a performance. They're playing a role.

They're hiding behind a mask and really they're not a believer at all. And ironically, hypocrites are often the most critical people of all. It doesn't surprise me when I find a hyper critical person turn out to be guilty of sins that are far worse than the sins they're criticizing in other people's lives. I bring this up because we're going to look at a very interesting couple in the Bible. Ananias and Sapphira. They were two hypocrites who found out the hard way that you can't pull the wool over God's eyes.

Now here's the thing to remember. Jesus saved his most scathing words, not for sinners, but for hypocrites. He saved his most scathing words for the Pharisees. Now being a Pharisee was not in and of itself a bad thing. A Pharisee could be a very devout man. He could be a man who really sought to know God by memorizing the scripture and living by the standards he lived by. But unfortunately, many of the Pharisees had no interest in God at all.

And for them it was more about theater. And Jesus was very critical of them, calling them white washed tombs, which means you look good on the outside, but you're dead in the inside. In contrast, with sinners, Jesus was incredibly compassionate. Take the woman caught in the act of adultery as an example. The Pharisees grabbed her, threw her before Jesus, not because they cared about the law or what was right or wrong.

They just wanted to put him to a test that hopefully he would fail. They throw her down at the feet of Christ. They say the law says this woman should be put to death. What do you say? Jesus looks around at these creepy, self-righteous, arrogant hypocrites. And we read that he stoops down and writes in the sand, stands up, writes in the sand again. Then he looks at them and says, let him that is among you without sin cast the first stone.

The Bible says they left from the eldest to the youngest. Now he looks at this woman, who actually was guilty of this sin. And he says, woman, where are your accusers?

She says, I have none, Lord. It's interesting, the very word that he used for woman, it's a term of respect. It's almost as though he called her ma'am or lady.

I don't know if she'd ever been called that before. But he said, ma'am, lady, woman, where are your accusers? Showing that he didn't just see her for what she was, he saw her for what she could become. Yeah, at that moment she was in a moral woman caught in the act.

But he saw that she could become a woman of God. Woman, lady, ma'am, where are your accusers? I have none, Lord. Then go and sin no more. And we see this over and over again. He's loving and patient and compassionate with sinners, even being called the friend of sinners, but very quick to deal with self-righteous hypocrites.

Listen to this. Better to be an honest sinner than a lying saint. Let me say that again. Better to be an honest sinner than a lying saint or hypocrite.

Hypocrisy has driven many people away from the church, and many young people in particular. So here's the deal. Your kids are not expecting perfection from you. They know you mess up just as well as you know it. And I think periodically it's not a bad idea to apologize to your children.

Well, I can't do that. They'll lose respect for me. No, they'll probably gain respect for you. Well, Dad's finally owning up to what he actually does. He's actually admitting it. And while you're at it, I probably should apologize to some more people. Apologize to your parents. Apologize to your spouse.

We all have moments of hypocrisy, and we want to avoid that kind of lifestyle at all costs. Pastor Greg Laurie will have the second half of his message in just a moment. Hey, everybody. What are you doing this weekend? I'd like to hang out with you at Harvest at Home. When is Harvest at Home? It is a time of worship and Bible study exclusively designed for people that are viewing in from all over the place so you can be a part of our extended congregation at Harvest at Home.

Join us this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, for Harvest at Home at Well, today, Pastor Greg is presenting a study of the sin of Ananias and Sapphira in a message called Honest to God. Let's listen. So here we come now to the story of how the devil changes his approach. At first, he attacked the church outwardly, and that blew up in his face. Instead of weakening the church, it strengthened the church, so now he comes in a different way. First, he came like a lion. Now he's going to come like a serpent, just like he came to Eve in the Garden of Eden, slithering in. That's how the devil often works.

He'll attack you on the outside, and you're fighting him here, but you might be letting him in somewhere else. So let's get the backdrop of the story. Barnabas is seen giving a gift to the church for the use of ministry. Now, I love Barnabas.

He's called the son of consolation. Whenever you read about Barnabas, he's encouraging someone. He's doing something that encourages others, and here he is giving this. Now, no one forced him to do this. No one pressured him to do this, and periodically, we have people come to us and say, I want to give a gift to the ministry because I want to invest in what you guys are doing, and we're so appreciative of that.

But here's the thing. This was voluntary. He didn't have to do it, but he wanted to do it, and other members in the church did the same thing. They were sort of pitching in and helping out, because some believers, because of persecution, were losing their employment. They needed help, so the church was pooling their resources.

It wasn't forced on them by the government. It was voluntarily done by members of the church, of the congregation. So Ananias and Sapphira see this, and they think, wow, look at how the people appreciate this.

We want to be seen as virtuous people too. So this is what happens next, and one of the most shocking stories in the Bible, quite candidly. Acts chapter five, starting in verse one.

I'm reading from the New Living translation. There was a man named Ananias, who with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the property to the apostles, but claimed it was the full amount. His wife agreed to this deception.

Underline that, this deception. Then Peter said, Ananias, why, as Satan filled your heart, you lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. This property was yours to sell or not sell as you wish or not.

After selling it, the money was yours to keep or to give away. Why would you do a thing like this? You're not lying to us. You're lying to God. As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the ground and died.

Everyone who heard about it was terrified. Well, then some young men wrapped him in a sheet, took him out, and buried him. About three hours later, his wife comes in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asks her, what was this price you and your husband received for the land? She said, yeah, that was the price. Peter said, how could the two of you even think of doing a thing like this, conspiring together to test the Spirit of the Lord?

You might underline that phrase, test the Spirit of the Lord. Just outside that door are the young men who buried your husband, and they'll carry you out too. Instantly, she fell to the floor and died, and the young men saw she was dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.

Great fear gripped the entire church and all the others who heard what happened. We'll stop there. How's that for a story? Wow. People say, I wish we could see more miracles in the church today like they had in the book of Acts.

Really? How about this miracle? Do you wish God was doing this today? If he was, people would be dropping like flies in a church service, maybe starting with a preacher. If God dealt with the church today, as he dealt with Ananias and Sapphira, every church would have to have a full-time undertaker on staff and a morgue in the basement. I did hear about a preacher who had a lot of people dying when he was working, but see, it turns out this preacher was moonlighting as a lifeguard, and they noticed like 10 people would die every day. He was out there at his lifeguard stand, so they went to try to figure out what was happening with this preacher.

He had been trained. He knew how to use his equipment, and they saw him up there, and as someone was in trouble and waving back and forth, the preacher lifeguard said, God bless you. I see that hand. God bless you. I see that hand. God bless you.

So this is a serious thing. Why did God deal so severely with these two people? Because they committed a specific sin against the Spirit that still can be committed today. They lied to the Spirit of God.

Verse 4, you have not lied to men but to God. Their sin was they lied to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a member of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has a will. The Holy Spirit has a personality. The Holy Spirit can be specifically sinned against. There are specific sins identified in the Bible that can be committed against the Holy Spirit. For instance, you can insult the Spirit. You can resist the Spirit. You can lie to the Spirit, as the story here shows, and you can blaspheme the Spirit.

So what is this about? Again, Ananias and Sapphira were hypocrites. They were playing a part. They were pretending to be something that they were not.

They wanted people to think they were really devoted to God when they weren't. Now before we criticize them let's just ask ourselves this question. Have we ever done anything like this? The answer is yes.

Here's how. You know we put on a performance. Maybe there's a prayer meeting and it's our turn to pray and we hog the prayer. You ever pray with people like that? They just pray forever.

Forever. And it's a very flowery prayer. Because what are they doing? They want to impress you.

Right? Oh our Father we thank thee today and I thank you Lord as I was studying your word for three hours how you spoke to my heart and then Lord as I was actually leading people to Christ on the way over here six or seven as I recall. But Lord what is that all about? You're talking more about you than the Lord. And so this is the thing.

We can do the same thing. In fact Jesus called out the Pharisees in Matthew 6. In a modern translation he says be especially careful when you're trying to be good so you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater but the God who made you will not be applauding. Don't pray for theater. Don't worship for theater. You know some people always say I'm going to really just you know sing louder and lift my hands higher and that's all good.

We want that. But don't do it in a way where you're drawing unnecessary attention to yourself. Sometimes people will pretend to be a Christian when it works to their benefit. Maybe you're a Christian girl and some guy comes up and says hey I'd like to take you out for dinner. And you say well I don't want to be involved with anyone who's not a Christian.

Are you a Christian? And he says yeah. Hallelujah. Even the way he said it was kind of creepy.

Doesn't the Bible say something about greeting one another with a holy kiss? So come here. Hold on.

That guy might be lying to your face right. Or maybe when you go to buy a vehicle a number of years ago I was looking at some truck and the car dealer was cussing up a blue streak. All this profanity. And then he says so tell me what's your name Greg?

Yeah. What do you do for a living? I'm a pastor. All of a sudden it's like hallelujah. Praise the Lord brother. I'm like give me a break.

Just be an honest sinner. Not a lying car dealer. Is that redundant? Lying car. No I'm kidding. I'm kidding. But there's good car dealers. I know a few. Only a few.

No I'm kidding. But anyway you know they say one thing all of a sudden they're a Christian. Sometimes when someone's running for office and they want to get the evangelical vote all of a sudden there's the little religious rhetoric in their speeches and and they show up at church and and they want to be noticed and hey everybody look yeah here I am. So be careful to not put on a performance. God doesn't like it when you do that. Again let me emphasize better to be an honest sinner than a lying saint. So don't put this show on.

That's what Ananias and Sapphira were doing. They were tending to be something they were not. Pastor Greg Laurie urging lifestyles of transparent honesty as we walk with the Lord. Good insight today here on A New Beginning. Well we're so happy to make available Pastor Greg's revealing book on the life of popular actor Steve McQueen. It's called Steve McQueen the Salvation of an American Icon. Pastor Greg he came to Christ when most people considered him one of the elite movie stars of his day. But he realized something was missing didn't he? What does that teach us about reaching out to everybody including those that look like they have it all?

That's right Dave. You know I don't care how a person looks on the outside. Inside everyone is empty. Everyone is lonely. Everyone is afraid to die and everyone is searching. Steve McQueen was the number one movie star of his day. Some people that are listening know who he was.

Others don't. So let me put it into the modern context. Let's just say that Tom Cruise came to Jesus Christ and started talking about it. Would that make an impact on culture?

Let me take it a step further. What if Johnny Depp came to the Lord? Okay so now take Johnny Depp and take Tom Cruise and put him together. Tom Cruise is known for doing his own stunts. Johnny Depp is known for his off-screen crazy behavior. McQueen was that and more. He was a guy who was always getting into trouble. He was a guy who made a mess of his life. A guy who did his own stunts. In fact he he drove his own race car in the film that he did called Le Mans. He did his motorcycle stunts and the great escape.

So this was a guy who was a man's man. He had it all together seemingly on the outside but he was searching and very few people know that the number one movie star in the world Steve McQueen came to Christ. Now he came to Christ a number of months before he found out he had cancer. Sometimes people think oh Steve found out he was sick and then he became a Christian.

No it's not that at all. He became a Christian when he was the number one movie star in the world and actually was attending church regularly. He even wanted to be an usher in church. Imagine having Steve McQueen helping you find your seat in church but God radically transformed Steve's life. So I've written a book about it and it has interviews with people that knew Steve well including his uh widow Barbara McQueen also Leonard DeWitt Steve's pastor and others that knew Steve very well in his day and they helped put this story together this amazing story of the unlikely transformation of the number one movie star in the world. So if you want to know more about how Steve's life was changed and how your life can be changed or how someone you know who seems so far gone can have their life changed then order your copy of Steve McQueen the salvation of an American icon from us here at Harvest and we will send this to you for your gift of any size and by the way whatever you send will be used to continue to teach the word right here in a new beginning and get the gospel out so more people like Steve McQueen can come to know Christ. Yeah it's an investment that reaches beyond this life and we're so thankful for your generosity.

It's the only way we can meet the expenses of bringing these daily studies your way. So contact us today with your donation and be sure to ask for your copy of Steve McQueen the salvation of an American icon. You can call us at 1-800-821-3300. We can take your call anytime 24 7 that's 1-800-821-3300 or write a new beginning box 4000 Riverside California 92514 or just go online to Well next time Pastor Greg has more insights on the dangers of lying to the spirit and the other offenses we can commit against the Lord join us here on a new beginning with Pastor and Bible teacher Greg Laurie. The preceding podcast was made possible by Harvest Partners helping people everywhere know God. Learn how to become a Harvest Partner, sign up for daily devotions and find resources to help you grow in your faith at
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-12 17:17:03 / 2023-03-12 17:26:43 / 10

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