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The gospel frees you from hypocrisy

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The Gospel frees you from hipocrisy

[34] There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold [35] and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. [36] Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, [37] sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. (ESV)
Chapter 5 Ananias and Sapphira
[1] But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, [2] and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. [3] But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? [4] While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” [5] When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. [6] The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
[7] After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. [8] And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” [9] But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” [10] Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. [11] And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.
Many Signs and Wonders Done
[12] Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon's Portico. [13] None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. [14] And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, [15] so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. [16] The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed. (ESV)
1. There is no such thing as a perfect church.
2. The gospel frees you from hypocrisy.
3. We need Gospel-centered community
1. There is no such thing as a perfect church.
God created the church as an institution that is meant to help us grow and flourish in our walk with Jesus and our relationships with one another as the family of God.
That’s what Church is designed for, yet how many of us have experienced the opposite of that. Like you were involved in a church where you were wounded and what was meant
for your good actually hurt you spiritually and you felt betrayed and broken and maybe it even made you question everything about Jesus and his love and church altogether. (how many of you were wounded in church)
Church is a people. A family of believers. People are sinful, and therefore church life gets messy real quick. And looking at Acts, it’s easy to think… the first church in Jerusalem was awesome. They were united together by the HS.
God’s kids were sharing everything. They loved one another hard. There were no needs. They seemed perfect. Well ya maybe For at least a month or two. And then 2 of God’s kids - a married couple flat out lies to God and they drop dead…. Not so perfect after all.
We are in an exciting new stage of replanting this church and God is doing some amazing things in our midst… but we won’t be a perfect church. If you’re pretty new here, just give us a few months and you’ll see we aren’t perfect.
We’ll fail you. We will disappoint you. Things won’t go the way you want all the time. We won’t be perfect, but we’re headed toward the perfect one, Jesus Christ. So this is about getting your expectation right for what church life is like.
And we will be tempted and attacked by Satan. That’s what’s happening here in . Satan tried to attack the church with persecution from the outside, and now he’s trying to attack from inside the church.
This story is about a problem every church faces. Finish this sentence for me. I don’t want to go to church because the church is filled with __________________.
Hypocrisy is always a problem in church.
What is hypocrisy? Pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.
So… This is a story of a married couple’s hypocrisy. Barnabas does a great thing - the HS led him to sell his property to take care of needy people in the church. And he’s praised for it. He’s sharing. The church celebrates this.
Ananias sees this, and he thinks, I want to be seen as super spiritual. I want some praise. I want some glory or status in the church. If I do what Barnabas did, I’ll be praised.
I’ll be in with the right people. Maybe get special recognition from the leadership. Maybe I would be seen as a leader in the church and get some power. I’ll have a great reputation.
He schemes together with his wife and they sell some property and they take the money to the apostles and they say we’re giving all of it to the church, when really they had decided to keep some for themselves, but this was their plan together - keep some of it, but say we’re giving all of it. And look at 5:3...
[3] But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? [4] While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”
Peter’s saying, you’re not lying to me, you’re lying to God. You’re offense is against God. Satan is the Father of lies - he’s filled your heart to do this. You’re not led by the Spirit to do this, this is from Satan. Wasn’t it your property - you didn’t have to sell it.
No one made you do this! And when you sold it and got the money, wasn’t it your money? You could do whatever you want with it. Why are you lying about it! Why are you trying to pretend to be something you’re not. Why not just be honest.
You’re trying to fool us but you can’t fool God. So he drops dead. And then his wife comes in, she doesn’t know her husband just died, she tells the same lie, she drops dead.
And “great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.” Ya! You think? You would never forget this.
One of my questions was why was God so severe? One commentator said it was because this was a pivotal time in church history and “The way Ananias and Sapphira attempted to reach their goals was so dramatically opposed to the whole thrust of the gospel that to allow it to go unchallenged would have set the entire mission for the church off course.
If your kids do something wrong and they’re honest about it, you won’t be so hard on them, you may even let it slide with a little warning. But nothing makes you more upset, nothing is worse than them straight up lying to your face.
And that’s what they did. So God is teaching His kids - His church - a powerful lesson here early on in the life of the church. His kids share. His kids don’t lie. His kids need to be honest. God’s wants our hearts first and foremost, and then our actions will line up.
2. The Gospel frees you from hypocrisy.
The reason we fall into hypocrisy is we forget the gospel. The gospel is that you were a sinner in desperate need of rescue, you weren’t even seeking God, and he sought you, he came near to you and met you right where you were at, and Jesus rescued you by dying for your sin on the cross, and when you repented and trusted him he changed your heart to love and obey Him.
You see the gospel tells you the truth about you. God doesn’t come to you and say, you’re so impressive! No The gospel meets you right where your at and tells you that you’re messed up.
And you’re like, ya I know. God knows you inside and out and he’s honest with you about you. I know I’m not impressive. We are sinners in need of grace.
God saves us - that’s justification, and then he goes to work on us - that’s sanctification. It’s a lifelong process of Him changing you from the inside out.
But what often happens in church is that instead of you giving your heart to Jesus and letting him work on you, you just start trying to look like you’ve got your act together, like you’ve arrived.
You don’t latch onto Jesus, you latch onto some new behavior modification. You want to belong and fit in with other Christians so you just start doing what you think will make you look super spiritual. This is how you begin to go down the hypocrite path.
You look around at church and you see, oh people dress that way here. I’ll dress that way. Oh they carry that kind of Bible, I’ll get that. They really like it when you take notes during the sermon, well I’ll get a fancy journal. If I sing loud people will notice. If I raise my hands people will think I’m really worshiping. If I learn to say cool new Christian lingo.
Whatever people take notice of and celebrate in church, I’ll do those things and they’ll think I’m a little further along in my walk with Jesus than I actually am.
The hypocrite latches onto the action when their heart isn’t there yet - they grab onto a new behavior instead of grabbing onto Jesus and focusing on gospel-centered heart change.
So, whatever the church says mature looks like, I’ll do that. The hypocrite finds the church’s list of things to stop and things to start and just goes to town checking the list with no real heart change.
The hypocrite thinks, I’ve got to look a certain way. I’ve got to sound a certain way. I’ve got to come across a certain way. I must present myself this way so that people will think I’ve got my act together.
The hypocrite forgets that the gospel says you’re not perfect and you never will be perfect - God saves you by faith alone in Christ alone and then begins to change you to make you more like Jesus.
You’re in process. You’re not perfect yet. That’s OK. So you can be honest. You can stop wearing yourself out trying to fake it. You don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not.
If you’re not there yet, you’re not there yet and that’s OK! You’re in process! You’re walking with Jesus but you haven’t arrived. It’s OK to not be OK, just don’t stay there.
And so if you’re struggling with something or doubting God about something, that doesn’t mean something’s wrong with you, it just means you’re in process, so let’s talk about it and pursue Jesus together and grow together.
Don’t hide it and act like you’ve got it all together. You’ll never grow that way. You’re just hurting yourself. You won’t get real heart change that way. And you’ll have no real joy in Christ.
If we’re not careful, church can be a place where we get really good at being fake. We get good at pretending and putting on a super spiritual front.
It’s a fight to remember the gospel. It’s a fight to be real and stay real, and the only way to keep it real is to preach the gospel to yourself everyday. The Christian life is a life of ongoing struggle and repentance. Ongoing struggle and repentance.
That’s what the Christian life looks like. Daily confession. Daily repentance. Daily take up your cross and follow Jesus.
If Ananias would’ve just been honest it would’ve been a whole different story. Like he could’ve said, man I wanted to give it all, but I’m struggling with it now. God help me have a generous heart. I want to be like Barnabas. Work in me. Help me not pretend to be something I’m not. He could’ve told the apostles the truth. Just say you’re struggling with whatever you’re struggling with. Just be open. Why the lies?
God sees right through us and looks right at our hearts and we cannot hide anything from his all seeing eyes. So why are we trying to hide from Him? Why live in secret? He sees. He knows. And he loves you right where you’re at.
So just be honest with Him about your doubts and struggles. And he’ll love you so much he won’t leave you where you’re at - he’ll change you.
But if we’re going to fight to be real and stay real with Jesus, we don’t just need the gospel, we need gospel community.
3. We need Gospel-centered Community
If we don’t have relationships in this church where we let people in on our struggles and doubts and sin issues, our sin sickness will get worse, we won’t grow closer to Jesus, and we’ll just get really good at being fake. Playing church games.
Community is a must because we’ve all got blindspots. We need help seeing ourselves and our sin accurately. And you and I will never be Rambo in the spiritual war. We need one another.
If we are going to be a relationship driven church where we are truly growing as disciples, in this church family it has to be OK to not be OK. It’s not OK to stay that way, so we’ll help one another grow. It’s OK to not be OK, just don’t stay there.
If we don’t have deep Christian friendships where we can say, hey man I’m really struggling to believe this. Or my marriage is falling apart. Or I’ve got some serious anger issues. Or I just can’t keep my mouth shut and I gossip.
Or I’m really struggling with lust and looking at stuff online. If we don’t have community to confess and ask for help, we won’t grow in Christ-likeness. we’ll only grow in hypocrisy. You know what grows in the dark? Fungus. Mold. Nasty stuff.
You’ve got get out the bleach of repentance and the sunlight of community on that stuff. Confessing to God brings forgiveness and that’s good, but if you want healing you need to confess it to a trusted Christian friend. () 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
Why not repent? Why not tell somebody today? Why not say I’ve got an issue here. Wrestle with the Lord together. You’ll never grow if you pretend to already be there. We’ve got repent of pretending to be more than we are.
Today could be the beginning of a spiritual breakthrough.
But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (ESV)
Every day is a fight to stay real with God and real with God’s people. It’s hard to develop strong relationships that are built around following Jesus.
But I want to encourage you to develop deep relationships here and be vulnerable with people knowing that
1. We’ll never be a perfect church but we’re pursuing the perfect one Jesus Christ together
2. Preach the gospel to yourself everyday to stay real with God and fight hypocrisy.
3. Surround yourself with Gospel-centered community so we can be real with one another.
Pray
You may need to spend some time getting real with God, remembering the gospel.
You may need to talk with your spouse of a close friend today and confess some sin to them and ask for prayer and help.
I’m not OK and you’re not OK, but let’s not be Ok with staying that way. Let’s get real with one another and pursue Christ together. We’re all in process.
The elders and I will be up here at the front if you need prayer or anything at all. You just take this time to respond to God
[12] Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. [13] Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, [14] I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. [15] Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. [16] Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (ESV)
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