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Honest to God | Being Genuine, Not a Hypocrite

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie
The Truth Network Radio
June 11, 2024 3:00 am

Honest to God | Being Genuine, Not a Hypocrite

A New Beginning / Greg Laurie

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June 11, 2024 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, 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.

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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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We're glad you're joining us for A New Beginning with Greg Laurie, a podcast supported by Harvest Partners. Get more encouraging audio content when you subscribe to Pastor Greg's Daily Devos.

Learn more and sign up at harvest.org. And God doesn't like it when you do that. 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. It 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 rode by with super loud pipes. I said, do 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, riding 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, like that. But if they're on another kind of motorcycle, you don't acknowledge them.

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 the people appointed accused him, 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 hypercritical 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.

And 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 though, the very word that he used for woman is a term of respect. It's almost as though he called her ma'am or lady.

I don't know if she had 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. 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 everyone, I want you to know about our app called Harvest Plus. Think of it as a Harvest version of Netflix.

We have all of our resources in one place. We have our movies like Steve McQueen, The Salvation of an American Icon, Johnny Cash, The Redemption of an American Icon, A Rush of Hope, and much more. Then we have our television program, daily devotions, and much more.

So go and download the Harvest Plus app. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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 5 starting in verse 1. 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 has 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. And 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.

And 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. So 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. And 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.

Well 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. 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 the 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 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?

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 they show up at church. 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 pretending to be something they were not. Pastor Greg Laurie, merging lifestyles of transparent honesty as we walk with the Lord. Good insight today here on A New Beginning. When we're pretending to be a believer, most people can see right through that. And God can always see right through that. How is your relationship with the Lord? Have you ever come to him and asked him to forgive you of your sins?

Have you decided to follow him? Pastor Greg, what would you say to the person listening who's not sure if they've ever come to the Lord and asked him to be their Savior? Yes, I think they need to make this commitment to Christ. Here's what the Bible says.

Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. So you need to reach out to God. Not just think about it. Not just say, one of these days I would like to. Just do it.

In fact, you can do it right now. You say, well, how do I call out to the name of the Lord? You do it through prayer. God is just a prayer away. How about if I lead you in a prayer? And you could pray this prayer after me. You can pray it out loud if you like. You can pray it quietly in your heart. But direct this prayer toward God. And you could pray it after me right now.

You ready? Pray this after me. Lord Jesus, I know that I'm a sinner. But I know that you're the Savior.

And I want a relationship with you. So as your word says, I'm calling on the name of the Lord. I'm asking you to save me from my sin.

And I'm asking that we begin a new relationship today. Thank you for loving me and sending your son Jesus to die on the cross for my sin and then raising him from the dead. I now put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ. And I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

Amen. And listen, if you have just prayed along with Pastor Greg and you've meant those words sincerely, let us be the first to welcome you into the family of God. And we want to help you get started off right in this new daily walk with the Lord. Pastor Greg would like to send you his New Believers Bible. It's a special edition of God's Word for those who are new to the faith with scores of helps for new believers written by Pastor Greg.

So get in touch and ask for the New Believers Bible. We'll send it to you free of charge. Just call us at 1-800-821-3300.

That's 1-800-821-3300. Or go online to harvest.org and click the words Know God. Well, Pastor Greg, it's no overstatement to say that if our listeners didn't stand behind us with their support, we just wouldn't be here each day. You know, they're partners with us in ministry and we probably don't say thank you near enough. And it's their partnership that's helping us reach the next generation of young people.

Isn't that right? Really true. Thank you so much, all of you that are faithful listeners to A New Beginning. And a special thank you to those that support us, especially on a regular basis. We call you Harvest Partners. What does that mean? That means that every month you say, I will commit to sending this much.

How much that is is entirely up to you, but it really helps when we can depend on this because it enables us to respond to new opportunities. And new opportunities do come our way all the time. We're always trying to break new ground, go into new areas that maybe others have not gone into, and reach them with a life-changing message of the gospel. You know, the world needs Jesus Christ so badly.

And what did Jesus say? He said, go into all the world and preach the gospel. So we're trying to do that.

We take the Great Commission seriously at Harvest Ministries. And so I'm asking you to partner with us and help us do that because whatever you invest is an investment in eternity. And in doing so, you'll be laying up for yourself treasures in heaven. So do your giving while you're living.

Then you're knowing where it's going. And right now, we really appreciate their help because we're investing some of those resources in reaching the next generation of young people through not only a cartoon series, but a brand new spiritual growth resource that has sort of grown out of that cartoon series. Isn't that right?

That's right, Dave. You know, I've always had a heart for kids. I think in many ways I'm a kid at heart still. You know, I love to sit down with children, draw cartoons for them, teach them how to draw, engage them, get them to laugh, love to tell them Bible stories. I love to see them come to know Jesus. A lot of times when I have a family come up to me and the adults are talking, I'll notice a little kid maybe standing there and I'll direct my attention to the child often and talk to them because they're so often overlooked and forgotten about and there they are. Their little hearts are open to the gospel.

Jesus loved the little children. And we love them too and we want to reach them. And we want them to know that God loves them and God has a plan for them.

You know, so many kids today, their lives are hard. So many are coming today from broken homes. So many of them have never heard about Jesus.

They've never gone to church. And so maybe we can reach them. And I think you care about them too. And if you do, why don't you respond to this offer we're giving right now. It's the refreshed version of the Ben Born Again New Believers Growth Book that is designed for younger kids. And be generous and we'll take whatever you send to continue to reach this young generation with the message they really need to hear, the message of Jesus Christ.

Yeah, that's right. Your investment is so pivotal, so strategic right now. And we want to thank you by sending the brand new Ben Born Again New Believers Growth Book. It helps kids build a strong foundation for their faith.

Your young one will learn why the Bible is important, why being involved in church matters, how to pray, how to know the will of God, how to resist temptation, and a whole lot more. So get in touch with your investment and be sure to ask for the Ben Born Again New Believers Growth Book. You can call 1-800-821-3300. That's a 24-7 phone number, 1-800-821-3300.

Or go online to harvest.org. 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. This is the day, the day when life begins. Hey, everybody. Thanks for listening to A New Beginning. This is a podcast made possible by Harvest Partners. So for more content that can help you know God and equip you to make Him known to others or to learn more about how you can become a Harvest Partner, just go to harvest.org.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-11 05:18:25 / 2024-06-11 05:29:46 / 11

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