I believe hypocrisy is the first tool people can and will use to debunk an argument. It is easy for someone to say you should not steal, but if that person is later found to be guilty of theft it can completely destroy any positive work they performed in other people’s lives.
Today I would like to talk about another element which is continually preventing good things from happening in people’s lives. That is the apparent lack of others to be willing to step up and actively take part in helping another. I understand that you should be selective about what you allow to influence your life. However, if you are not willing to get your hands dirty; if you will not enter the trenches where the battles are fought; if you cannot accept you will never rescue someone from drowning by standing and watching from the shore, then you are failing. It seems an epidemic of “they need to do something,” has taken over our society. Who are “they?” I have news for you, if “you” are not willing to get your hands dirty then no one else will.
Jesus was a friend to Sinners and was never afraid to get right down where they were to pull them out. Mind you He never once said sin was acceptable. Instead, He said it comes to “lie, steal, and kill,” but He was never afraid to step right into the world of sin to help free others from its bondage.
I would like to share a few thoughts with you about being what I have come to call a “Filthy Christian.” In other words being willing to jump right into the mud pit, fully aware you are about to get covered in filth. Being willing to get dirty and accepting it is the only way you can get where someone else may need you and help pull them out. If you have been washed clean of your sins by accepting the sacrifice and salvation bought with the crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, then you know the filth can be washed clean. Now it’s time to dive back into the cesspool and see if you can help pull someone else free.
First, have we all made mistakes? Yes!
Will others try to use the things from our past to prevent us from doing good work in the future? Yes!
Matthew 23:3 “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.” –NKJV
Jesus himself taught that people who are hypocrites, who fail to live by the very same rules they preach about, can still be saying and teaching the right things. The decision to “do” right is still completely in the hands of the individual.
So, from the viewpoint of someone who is seeking right and truth in their life, do not turn away wise teachings from someone who has made mistakes. In fact, some people who have made the gravest mistakes can give some of the wisest council because they have found truth the hard way. How can you know if a principle is true when it comes from someone who has failed to do it? Simple, is what they say in line with the biblical principles they should have listened to in the first place?
Now, if we look at the same passage of Matthew 23:3 from the viewpoint of being the hypocrite; then what Jesus tells us is even when we have screwed things up in our life, we are still supposed to say and teach what “is” right for others to follow. While being a hypocrite is certainly not anything anyone should aspire to become, you must not let fear prevent you from saying what is right and true.
Paul of Tarsus, who went on to become the Author of over half the letters and books found in the New Testament, started his spiritual career as a Pharisee who began hunting down and executing Christians. Do you honestly think it was an accident Jesus chose him to become one of the most influential people ever to preach the Gospel? Paul was a living hypocrite in the eyes of anyone else from the moment Jesus saved him. However, Paul was confident in his salvation, steadfast with his charge, and even embraced the mistakes of his past as teaching points from which he drove home some of his most important messages.
Jesus was without Sin but was willing to dive right in with the Sinners to help bring them salvation, truth, mercy, and love. Then later Paul of Tarsus, who was not only a sinner but had sinned directly against those to whom he would later preach, found he too needed to be willing to dive back into the muck and filth to accomplish his true calling. Paul had learned through Jesus he was washed clean of his past, and while others might try to use it to unhinge his good deeds; he accepted and embraced his salvation. He was then able to dive back into the muck and try to save others. It was like the filth couldn’t stick to him anymore.
Some of the people who were the most separated from Christ, so far gone there did not seem to be any hope left, become the most influential Christians ever to accept the Faith. The mere fact they became a Christian is a miracle, and they are the most steadfast in accepting and preaching the truth of what Jesus accomplished on the cross.
When people try to use your past against you in an attempt to thwart good deeds and works you are performing, then you need to embrace your past and let it shine as an example.
When someone attacks you with “Who are you to say ‘this’ when you have done ‘that?’”
Then you need to be confident in the truth and good works which Jesus has done in your life. Let yourself shine as an example. You can respond boldly with, “Exactly! If Jesus was able to take someone who did ‘that,’ and turns me into someone who now understands and says ‘this,’ imagine what He can do for you!”
While it is vital we followers of Christ do our very best to avoid committing sin, if we are simply too afraid to go near it, then we have missed the point. Jesus does not save one person over another. Instead, He taught that the way is open for everyone, He lived out the example of how to accomplish salvation for others, and then provided the means for each of His followers to be able to achieve the very same for anyone else.
Too many people today call themselves Christians but are unwilling to step in front of others who are making poor choices, even when they are friends or family. We must be willing to be affiliated with imperfect people who make mistakes, and not fear being seen as anything other than some fake idle with no apparent wrongs in life. Until we do this, we are the true hypocrites of the day. When someone tries to be so “perfect” he or she will not allow their hands to get dirty to pull someone from the filth of poor choices, then they are in fact the very hypocrites against whom Jesus scolded.
Christianity was never meant to be a warm blanket of comfort we wrap ourselves in to hide from the bitter cold of this world. Instead, it is a suite of armor. It is a means to equip us to defend ourselves against evil, and to strike out against the forces which would enslave and destroy our friends and family with confidence and boldness.
Speaking as a prior military man, I can tell you the Soldiers with the cleanest gear were the ones who had not seen combat. When you come back from a face to face encounter with the enemy, you are always sweaty, dirty, and yes even bloody. Why should it be any different as we face our spiritual enemies?
In closing I wish to leave you with this passage:
Ephesians 6:10-13 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against power, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” –NKJV
So, are you willing to get dirty? Will you be a “Filthy Christian?”