Summary: How to help people face the facts that they are only pretending to be something they are not
Illustration:The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are opposite sides of the same coin.
1. Have you ever wondered why some people pretend to do the will of God but are really using it as a cloud to cover over their personal ambitions?
A pretender is a person who falsely professes to be something that they are not. Pretenders cleverly find ways to stretch the truth for their own advantages.
Doing things in the name of religion has caused numerous wars, skirmishes and conflicts throughout history. The Jews in this passage tried convinced everyone they were doing the will of God by whipping up opposition to Paul and the gospel. The Jewish zealots continually agitated the crowds against Paul.
They thought they were doing God a favor. Not only were their motives wrong but also their understanding of God’s truth. Do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of trying to carry out your personal agenda under the guise of doing the will of God. Ask the Lord to expose pretenders for what they are as a warning to everyone.
2. Pretenders wrongly think they are defending truth when they are actually discrediting themselves. The Jews failed to realize that they were condemning themselves by their pretentious words, attitudes and actions. Paul wrote, “You can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.” (2 Cor. 13:8) Ask the Lord to help you work for the truth by the virtues of your personal lifestyle, through your relationships and in your ministries.
3. Pretenders tend to deceive themselves about what is profitable. The Jews failed to realize that they were not fighting against Paul, but against God and His truth – what losers!
Ask the Lord to help you avoid living with any trace of pretension.
4. Pretenders will go to great lengths to mask their mistaken notions. The Jews sent religious persecutors sixty miles from Thessalonica to Berea to persecute Paul. They spared no expense to thwart Paul and his ministry of the gospel.
Do not become alarmed when pretenders go to any lengths to discourage you from doing all that God requires. Ask the Lord to help you prepare yourself with Biblical response to all the attacks that will come from the pretentious. (I have written a book that is available called, “251 Biblical Response to Difficult People”)
5. Pretenders usually act out of fear, ignorance or anger. Try not to take the attacks of pretentious people personally.
Most of time, pretenders are trying to unload their deep-seated dissatisfaction, disillusionment or despondency on others. Pretenders lack a real sense of purpose and connection to the truthful one.
Ask God to give you the grace and wisdom to not over-react.
6. Do not allow pretenders to deter you from accomplishing all that God wants you to do. Paul did not hesitate to move ahead with God’s plans for His life – amidst great persecution from the Jewish fanatics.
Most wars are won when the other side becomes demoralized.
Do not give into their pretentiousness. You are more than a conqueror through Him who loves you.
Conclusion:The N.T. never says that a man is saved on account of his faith, but always that he is saved through his faith, or by means of his faith; faith is merely the means which the Holy Spirit uses to apply to the individual soul the benefits of Christ’s death."
J. Gresham Machen, What is Faith, p. 180.