Summary: Recognize some of the masks Christians wear and exhort to let this "Halloween" be the time to remove the mask rather than put one on.

Removing the Mask

Thomas A. Gaskill October 30, 2011

Opening illustration:

Many years ago there was an emperor who was so fond of new clothes that he spent all of his money on them. He did not have any concern about his army; he cared nothing about the theater or for driving about in the woods, except for the sake of showing himself off in his new clothes. This emperor had a costume for every hour of the day, and just as they say of a King or an Emperor, "He is in his council chambers," they said of him, "The emperor is in his dressing room."

One day a couple of strangers came to town; they were con men who disguised themselves as master weavers. And they said that they knew how to make the most exquisite clothing. Not only were the colors and patterns uncommonly beautiful, but the clothes were made of stuff that had a peculiar property -- that of being invisible to every person who was unfit for political office or who was exceptionally stupid.

"Those must be valuable clothes" thought the emperor, "By wearing them I should be able to discover which of the men in my empire are fit for office... And I will be able to distinguish the wise from the fools. So the emperor paid the two scoundrels a handsome sum of money in advance, as they required. Now the two men pocketed the money and pretended to be weaving.

As time passed the emperor was getting anxious about his new clothes -- but as he reflected that the clothes revealed those who were unfit or stupid, he wasn’t sure that he wanted to go. So he sent his top aide. Well of course when this aide went to where these men were busy about their weaving, he saw nothing, but not wanting to be judged unfit or stupid -- he said "Oh, it is most elegant and beautiful, what a fine pattern and what fine colors. I will certainly tell the emperor how pleased I am with these fine cloths.”

As time passed the emperor sent more aides all of who brought back the same reports.....Finally the day came and the emperor with the help of his stewards after taking off his old clothes, pretended to put on and button his new outfit…

As he marched down the streets, his attendants were behind him acting as though they were carrying his long train and everyone in the streets was shouting, "What beautiful clothes, how splendid...." though in fact they saw nothing, but they didn’t want to be judged as being unfit or stupid. Until that is, a little child said, "But he has nothing on." Soon everyone, spurred on by this truthful revelation, begins to shout out the truth. The emperor indeed is naked; he is wearing nothing but his self-deception.

How often do God’s people behave somewhat the same? Christians have been known to go on complimenting each other to maintain their own personal ambition in the relationships rather than having the best interest of all in mind. Eventually, churches consisting of this type of Christians become spiritually superficial and, eventually, are revealed as no more than a social club. Let me ask: What are you wearing? Are you wearing the true robe of righteousness found only in Christ or are you wearing your own cloak of self-deception?

As I reflected on Halloween, these three words came to mind: mask, deception, and hypocrisy.

The mask is always meant to deceive and acting according to the mask is hypocrisy.

To run the race in such a manner as to win the prize you must first remove the mask. Remove deception and avoid hypocrisy. If we continue to wear our masks, we not only hamper our own race but the race of others as well. Jesus recognized this in the religious leaders of His day and gave this stern rebuke:

Selections taken from Matthew 23:1-28 NKJV

(1) Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples,

(2) saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.

(3) Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.

(4) For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

(5) But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.

(6) They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,

(7) greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.'

(11) But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.

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