I do not consider that it is my place as a Christian to stand around making judgments and calling other people “hypocrites.” Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only man I know who was holy and perfect enough to call the religious leaders of the day hypocrites. I am just a man with faults and shortcomings of my own, and I must always consider myself lest I be tempted! I preach to my own congregation about our faults and our failings, with the warning that some of our professions of blessing and victory may get into the area of “unintentional hypocrisy.” Through the grace of God and the kindness of our spiritual ancestors, we may have spiritual light that some others do not have. But in all honesty, we are wretchedly far below what we should be in living up to it day by day. It helps us to be honest, frank, and humble to know that the great God Almighty knows the secrets of every person’s heart!
Whenever the living God revealed Himself in some way to humankind in the Old Testament, terror and amazement were the reactions. People saw themselves as guilty and unclean by comparison! In the Book of Revelation, the apostle John describes the overwhelming nature of his encounter with the Lord of glory. Although a believer and an apostle, John sank down in abject humility and fear when the risen, glorified Lord Jesus appeared before him on Patmos. Our glorified Lord did not condemn John. He knew that John’s weakness was the reaction to revealed divine strength. He knew that John’s sense of unworthiness was the instant reaction to absolute holiness. Along with John, every redeemed human being needs the humility of spirit that can only be brought about by the manifest presence of God. Jesus at once reassured John, stooping to place a nail-pierced hand on the prostrate apostle, and saying, “Do not be afraid. I am the Living One. I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and hades” (Revelation 1:18).
The living God has spoken to lost mankind in a variety of ways. The general response among us has been, “We did not hear His voice. We did not hear anything.” John recorded in his gospel the reactions of an audience of people who heard God speak audibly. When Jesus talked of His coming death, asking God to glorify His name through it, there came “a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again” (John 12:28). And what were the reactions of the bystanders? “The crowd that was there heard it and said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him” (John 12:29). People prefer their own logic, their own powers of reason. Even when God speaks, they refuse to recognize His voice. They will not confess that God has spoken through Jesus Christ, the eternal Son. When He confronts them with their sin, they consult a psychiatrist and hope they can get their personalities “properly adjusted.” But in a coming day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all!
I think it is a completely wrong concept in Christian circles to look upon Jesus as a kind of divine nurse to whom we can go when sin has made us sick and, after He has helped us, to say, “Goodbye, Jesus” and go on our own way. Suppose I go into a hospital in need of a blood transfusion. After the staff has ministered to me and given their services, do I just slip out with a cheery “goodbye” as though I owe them nothing and it was kind of them to help me in my time of need? That may sound far out to you, but it draws a picture of attitudes among us today. But the Bible never in any way gives us such a concept of salvation. Nowhere are we ever led to believe that we can use Jesus as a Savior and not own Him as our Lord. He is the Lord, and, as the Lord, He saves us because He has all of the offices of Savior, Christ, High Priest, and Wisdom and Righteousness and Sanctification and Redemption! He is all of these—and all of these are embodied in Him as Christ, the Lord!
Preaching from the pulpit about the Christian “deeper life” does not automatically produce a deeper life church and congregation. The profession of men and women that they believe in “the deeper Christian life” is no assurance that their fellowship is actually a deeper life church. The deeper spiritual life many people say they want is not a message; it is not a sermon; it is not a profession. I am a pastor, and I think I major in telling the truth. It is true that it is about time we stop coddling and apologizing for congregations that have reputations for being deeper life churches. The deeper spiritual life is not something just to be talked about—it is a quiet enjoyment of daily blessing, peace, and victory that is lived day by day beyond empty profession and without any two-faced circumstances!