I discovered hypocrisy was the stepchild of legalism.
Many years ago, I met in my college gymnasium where Loren Cunningham spoke. During the invitation, I felt a nudge to go forward, but an elder of my church sat at the bottom of the bleachers. I had grown up in the church where he served and had tried to keep all the rules, but with limited success. I thought, If I go forward, my elder will believe I have been a hypocrite. Of course, I was, but I did not want him to know. Pride is always the greatest hindrance to salvation.
Keeping the law is not difficult; it is impossible. However, if we try to keep the letter of the law, we will fail, cover up our failures, and become a hypocrite. Legalism is always a precursor to hypocrisy.
The Pharisees went to great lengths to win God’s acceptance through their self-righteousness. They did a good job of making themselves look holy outwardly, but Jesus exposed their hearts—and they hated Him. Hypocrites fear one thing: having their facades removed.
Self-righteousness keeps most people from God. We can’t lead someone to Christ who does not believe they need Him. Most people compare themselves with others and think they are doing reasonably well. However, God does not grade on the curve. Our choices are sinless perfection or spiritual death, which is why we needed a Savior to die in our place.
God never intended the law to be a stepladder to Him but a mirror to reveal who we are. Trying to keep the law will lead us into legalism, which is one step away from hypocrisy—an awful stepchild.
What steps can you take to avoid legalism?
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Ken Barnes has had a twenty-five year career in educational pursuits. He has taught in various public and private schools in Pennsylvania, Hawaii, and Virginia. He also worked for seventeen years with Youth With A Mission as a school leader, recruiter, and director. Ken holds a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Commonwealth University. He is the author of The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places. He currently is a speaker, blogger, and freelance writer. Ken lives with his wife Sharon in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Visit Ken at https://sites.google.com/site/kenbarnesbooksite/