Outward Appearances

Whitewashed TombsDan was the man who marched to the beat of a different drummer in my first congregation (and every congregation has one). One Sunday morning he announced that he’d requested the State of Oregon castrate him. He believed that removing parts of his outward anatomy would keep his mind from lusting after women; the outside would control the inside.

Jesus had some strong words for a group of folks in his day. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness (Matthew 23:27-28).

The religious leaders of Israel prided themselves on outward appearances. They were concerned with how others perceived them, but failed miserably when it came to their hidden thoughts and intentions (Matthew 5:27-28, 31-32, 33-34, 38-39, 43-44) . They were “hypocrites” acting before a world as something very different than when the audience went home.

Jesus never called His own followers hypocrites. Why? A Christian knows and despises his sinfulness. We humbly admit like David in the Bible, I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me (Psalm 51:3). A hypocrite strives to maintain a positive religious self-image, rejecting Paul’s confession, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am [present tense] chief  (1 Timothy 1:15).

You and I fool no one – especially God – pretending to be holy on the outside when our insides are rotten. Any godliness within us is only because Christ lives inside you. The Bible says that The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), thus we ever pray, Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).


One thought on “Outward Appearances

  1. Great post! And it is the truth!

    “WHO can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.
    Keep back Thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
    Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my Redeemer!” [Psalm 19:12-14]


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