(We are working our way through a sermon Jonathan Edwards preached on the nature of hypocrisy, looking at characteristics he gives of the hypocrite, in order to repent when we see this stuff popping up in our own hearts.)
When a person talks about how much he hates sin in order to look good to the people around them.
Sometimes people seem to think they really hate sin because they say they really hate sin.
But there’s obviously more to it than that.
Because most of us are pretty concerned with what other people think. Other people’s opinions have a powerful effect on us. If we are in a group where everybody says something is wrong and even worse shameful, it is probably going to be pretty difficult for us to say that we don’t.
We sometimes say we hate sin simply because we want other people to think we hate sin.
We don’t the fall out that will happen if they actually think we don’t.
I don’t know a whole lot of people who go to church on a regular basis, claim to be Christians and are willing to stand up and say outright that they want to do things they know everybody else thinks are wrong.
Most people really want other people to think they are good people.
That’s not necessarily a Christian virtue. Even unbelievers don’t like people thinking they are bad people. Just try pointing out someone’s sin sometime at work and see how they react.
It often drives them crazy.
There are people who won’t rest until you understand why they really are good even though they are doing bad, they’ll make excuses, they’ll minimize, or they make up pretty names for their sins. Pride becomes self-confidence, gossip becomes concern, drunkenness becomes having a little fun.
I remember talking to a group of thieves recently about another thieves’ need of Christ and they just looked at me and said, “Yes, he really does need Jesus.”
Just because a person calls a sin bad, doesn’t mean he really hates it. Just because a person makes excuses for his own sins and speaks about how he wishes things were different, doesn’t mean he really does. Most people who live in ‘places of light’ where God’s Word has been upheld and people have been taught what is good and true would be embarrassed not to at least say that they wanted to do the right thing.
Can you imagine what would happen if they didn’t? If they said, I don’t really give a rip? Most people don’t want the kind of trouble that would cause in their lives.
Jonathan Edwards writes, “Men therefore find it necessary in order to uphold their credit among men, and in order to their enjoying the advantages of society and have the benefit of commerce and an intercourse with the rest of mankind, that he should appear disposed to do as they ought to do.”
At the end of the day, there are people whose whole attitude towards doing good really comes down to manipulation. They want honor. They want respect. And so they hate anything that causes other people to think they are bad people, and they love anything that brings them fame.
Just check out the Pharisees.
Jesus wasn’t like whoa you guys are good. They could not have been more rigorous but Jesus knew they were basically driven by the same thing that drives the most irreligious person.
They were just using religion to get it.
Which is part of why we need to slow down and ask what drives us to hate sin. We can’t just look at our lives and say well, I am religious, I think certain sins are bad, I do good things. We have to look underneath all that. What really drives us to hate sin? What really drives us to do what is right?
Is it the same thing that drives the non-Christian?
Or is love for Christ and a desire for the glory of God?