What’s the difference between a hypocrite and a sinner?
I feel like the answer is confession and authenticity.
Well, the blog’s main mission is to be vulnerable about weakness, so that the Lord’s glory can be displayed, so I’m going to be honest today and share what’s been going on in my life.
In October, I applied for an intern position at my church. I was really excited about it because it was something I had been wanting, and I believed it was my next step, into ministry especially.
I interviewed in December, laying it all on the table (well, everything that came up of course). The main theme of that conversation was how I am a people pleaser; I struggle with pride and often think I know best. I often struggle with a check-the-box mentality and doing the right thing. I want to appear that I am capable and have it all together.
I ended up getting the internship(; praise the Lord! It’s been a blast so far), but fear and anxiety started to creep in. I was struggling behind the scenes, and I thought once it came to light (Luke 12:2-3), I would be kicked out of ministry.
Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preachMatthew 23:1-3 NIV
…on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickednessMatthew 23:28 NIV
I read these verses over the last few days, and I felt like I was supposed to write about how I have been feeling like a hypocrite. Maybe you can relate. But even if you can’t, I don’t want to be a hypocrite, and I think the cure to that is confession.
Without getting into too many details, dating is hard. It’s a hard phase to be in; you’re waiting. Dating isn’t Biblical; there’s no handbook for how to do it well. You want to share everything about yourself with another person; that is Biblical, but the timing is key. You’re stuck wanting more when it’s not the right time. And temptation is swift and takes control quickly.
I’ve been caught up in this cycle of (1) putting myself in tempting situations, (2) being tempted, (3) falling into temptation, (4) feeling bad and repenting, (5) deciding to actually follow boundaries, (6) following boundaries for a few days, and then going back to square one.
Well, this morning, I was sitting at phase 4 of the cycle and wrote “LORD, is this the thorn in my side? the sin I hate yet keep coming back to?” in my journal.
This is a reference to the apostle Paul’s own struggles…
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!Romans 7:14-25 NIV
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong2 Corinthians 12:7-10 NIV
Can you feel the remorse in his tone? Can you relate to these words?
- “the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing”
- “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me”
- “in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me”
- “What a wretched man I am!”
- “a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me”
- “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me”
However, there is redemption on the other side!
- “Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
- “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
- “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
I did finally confess to my mentor Becca. And it was reliving. She brought me under her wing and shared some of her struggles with me. She reaffirmed that this is where I belong–that there is a place for me. She reminded me of the Lord’s grace and that he covers me with it always.
So now, I want to bring you under my wing and encourage you in the same way.
God knew every sin we were ever going to commit; he paid the price for them all on the cross. Past. Present. Future. One-time-sin. And sin cycles.
He died for the Jews, Gentiles, Pharisees, and tax collectors. The prostitutes, demon-possessed, liars, cheaters, and gossips.
Even Paul — one of the most devout Christians in all of history — had a thorn in his side and couldn’t seem to get out of the sin he hated in his core. He wasn’t a hypocrite though because he spoke out about his weaknesses–he boasted in them instead of hiding them from public view.
We aren’t meant to pretend to be perfect–because we aren’t perfect. (As my dear friend Julia says, “You aren’t enough; because if you were, you wouldn’t need Jesus.”) The Lord has made us perfect in his eyes (Hebrews 10:10), but in the eyes of the world we look like fools (1 Corinthians 1:18-20). We are meant to boast in our imperfections because then the Lord’s perfection and majesty are highlighted.
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God…
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.2 Corinthians 4:1-2, 6-11 NIV
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV
Everyday you feel defeated, sitting at phase 4, remember that…
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceasesLamentations 3:22-23
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Everyday, choose again to follow the Lord (Joshua 24:15). It’s a daily decision, and it isn’t always easy–carrying a cross isn’t easy (Luke 9:23). You will face hardship and persecution and temptation, but you must continue to turn to the Lord and approach his throne.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.1 John 1:7-10 ESV
Don’t be like the Pharisees–don’t be hypocrites who pretend they are without sin. Instead, confess, repent, and walk confidently in grace.
Don’t hide things in the dark; bring them to the light. He forgives us; receive his grace!
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boastEphesians 2:8-9 ESV
from his fullness we have all received, grace upon graceJohn 1:16 ESV
I promise one of the most powerful things you can do is confess to a godly, trusted friend or mentor. They will empathize with you like Jesus does!
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it1 Corinthians 10:13
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effectiveJames 5:16 NIV
The only way to truly break a sin-cycle is with confession, prayer, and power.
You have to fight it; “fight the good fight” as Paul says–if it was easy, he wouldn’t call it a fight!!
You have to take the hard way out; your flesh won’t want you to, but you have to, through the Spirit of self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), take your thoughts, words, and actions captive and submit them to Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:5)!
Remember what Jesus did on the cross to forgive you of that sin; “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance” (Romans 2:4 NIV); ask that the Lord would “restore… the joy or your salvation” (Psalm 51:12 NIV)! We have God’s grace; let’s not take advantage of it!
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?Romans 6:1-2 NIV
Some next steps:
- confession (contact me if you need someone)
- prayer (I recommend praying Psalm 51:10-21 out loud)
- Bible reading (I’m reading the Bible in a year!! Check it off the bucket list with me: Straight through or chronological)
- memorizing Scripture (it’s become a daily discipline that I love–If you don’t know where to start, start with Colossians 3)
I love you and am praying for you always; I hope that this reminded you that no one is perfect and that there is bountiful grace for you!!!
As always, feel free to reach out about anything!
P.S. Bless your ears with this jam
To read more about struggling with lust, click here