I am glad to learn that my blog post on Isaiah 1:10-15 titled God Hates Hypocrisy (read here) created quite a stir among our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. Rhyse Furio posted,
I agree, Pastor Glem. It is so difficult to make our worship pure. In fact, a sister of mine said during a meeting, “We’re fooling ourselves if we say we’re not sinful. In fact, at this very moment, I’m sinning [in thoughts and emotions].” Truly, if not for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to cover our imperfect worship, it would never be accepted. Could our worship ever become completely hypocrisy-free this side of heaven?
“No”, I replied. “Our worship will never become completely hypocrisy-free this side of heaven.” But that doesn’t mean that we are hopeless.
We must think about our moral failings (in this case, worship that can never become hypocrisy-free this side of heaven) in terms of the order of salvation. For this discussion, let us focus on four:
By the grace of the Holy Spirit we have been born-again. Unlike non-believers, we now have a new Christlike nature (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26) that desires to worship the Lord “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). But like non-believers, our sinful nature remains, therefore our worship can never become hypocrisy-free this side of heaven (Romans 7:15; Galatians 5:17). As regenerated believers, we never claim perfection. As expressed in the Belgic Confession, “Although great weakness remains in them [us], they [we] fight against it by the Spirit all the days of their [our] life” (Article 29).
By faith, our sins have been forgiven (Isaiah 53:5-6; Colossians 2:13-14) and Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed/credited to our record in God’s heavenly court (1 Corinthians 1:30; Philippians 3:9). Therefore, even if our worship is never hypocrisy-free this side of heaven, sins of the heart, mind and eyes that we committed during worship are covered by Christ’s blood, and God accepts our worship as though it is perfect and pure, even if it is not. As the Heidelberg Catechism puts it, “Although my conscience accuses me that I have grievously sinned against all God’s commandments, have never kept any of them, and am still inclined to all evil, yet God, without any merit of my own, out of mere grace, imputes to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ. He grants these to me as if I had never had nor committed any sin, and as if I myself had accomplished all the obedience which Christ has rendered for me, if only I accept this gift with a believing heart” (Lord’s Day 23, Question and Answer 60). This is the heart and core of the gospel.
The Holy Spirit causes and enables believers to grow in Christlikeness (2 Corinthians 3:18; Ezekiel 36:27). More and more, we are being set free from sin and hypocrisy. More and more, our worship is becoming Christlike in purity and sincerity. Because our sinful nature remains, we will never be perfect and our worship will never be hypocrisy-free this side of heaven. But because of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, we are constantly and consistently growing in Christlikeness in all areas, which most especially includes worship.
On the second coming we will be made perfect like the Lord Jesus (Philippians 3:20-21). Then, we will never sin again and our worship will be perfectly hypocrisy-free and Christlike.
In short, we, believers in Christ, are (1) imperfect though regenerated, (2) perfect in justification, (3) perfecting through sanctification, and (4) to be perfected on the day of glorification, on the second coming of our perfect King and complete Savior.
Therefore, we must regularly do the following:
- Confess the heart, mind and eye sins that we commit during worship and ask the Lord for forgiveness.
- Believe and thank Him that (a) Christ paid for all our sins (including heart, mind and eye sins that we commit during worship) on the cross and that (b) through faith in Him we have forgiveness of sins.
- Ask the Lord to continue to sanctify us and make our worship more and more Christlike and hypocrisy-free through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit.
It’s easy to remember because the acronym is ABC inverted. C-onfess, B-elieve and A-sk.