Summary: We have two options when it comes to the Christian faith; we can customize it into a flash and flesh religion (which brings judgment) or we can humbly seek to love and serve God (which elicits God’s applause).
The Applause of God
NOTE: This sermon begins with a 1 minute video on Hypocrisy.
Sermon Objective: We have two options when it comes to the Christian faith; we can customize it into a flash and flesh religion (which brings judgment) or we can humbly seek to love and serve God (which elicits God’s applause).
37 … The large crowd listened to him with delight.
38As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, 39and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."
41Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
43Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on."
Have you ever purchased a new car that was a specific color or make thinking there were not many of them like it around and, once you bought it, you began to see them everywhere? It is sort of like that with me sometimes. When God begins to show me things about myself I begin to see it in other realms as well.
Such is the case today.
I see it more than I used too. I do not think it is any more prevalent – it is just that I see it more. That is, as I have explained, probably because I see it more in myself.
It’s easy to fall into.
I am talking about what I call “FLASH AND FLESH RELIGION” … showy religion … playing for the camera … performance … making sure to do the right things when others are around (solely so others will see you doing the right things). I’m talking about pretense … ego … hypocrisy.
I am talking about adopting a spirituality that is flesh (self)-centered. By that I mean it is about what you are going to get out of it more than it is about loving God with all your being and loving your neighbor as yourself.
James describes this kind of religion in chapter 3:
13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
The problems with this flash and flesh religion are many:
IT CLAMORS FOR PROMINENCE
It feeds the ego – which is the last thing we need! What becomes important in showy fleshly religion is building up one’s self; feeling good.
You become a god created in your own image and serving / sacrificing to that God is the order of the day … everyday … because it has an insatiable appetite.
IT CREEPS UP SUBTLY
Nobody sets out to use God’s name as a means to serve one’s self. It happens subtly; Maybe a false teaching creeps in, a desire for comfort gets a stronghold, or something within tells you that you deserve to “treat yourself” even if you have to rationalize God’s Word and commands away.
IT CONSUMES OTHERS
Jesus used a very graphic and gruesome image when he said that those trafficking in the flash and flesh religion “devour” other people for their own purposes.
Other people become tools to be used rather than fellow sojourners to be in relationship with.
IT IS CREATED IN HELL
These words about flash and flesh religion are as stern as Jesus ever spoke. Using religion for self-comfort, self-gain, and self-advancement is anathema.
It is corrupt – it operates from pride and covetousness. Outwardly there appears to be holiness but inwardly there is only self-centeredness.
It has a fundamental flaw in how such a faith understands God and God’s design for human worship. Instead of loving God and man with one’s whole being it really only loves itself. Any religion that caters to self-love is corrupt.