(excerpts from Desperate Dependency by J. Kirk & Melanie D. Lewis)
Those who choose to receive God’s truth and enter into Christ’s redemptive process will move to repentance. Repentance is that place where we turn from our philosophy of self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness. It is opting to live and do life God’s way and giving up our self-sufficiency.
Those who continue in deception may attempt a ritual of repentance. With no true heart change, they may go through the motions commonly deemed consistent with repentance such as crying, revealing sinfulness, asking for forgiveness, going to the altar, making promises to be different, or even a renewed religious fervor. But these actions are merely playing “good” as these individuals attempt to feign something they do not possess. They are not actually seeking to be free from the domination of sin, but merely free from the consequences of their sin.
Deceptive individuals hope to project the virtue of godly change while remaining in their philosophy of self-centeredness. Through an elaborate ruse they attempt to regain power and control so they can once again manipulate trust to exploit others. But as we give up our willfulness to God and relinquish ourselves unreservedly to Christ, submission to God’s authority, obedience to God’s design, and death to our selfish desires will result.
“Yet they act so pious!
They come to the Temple every day
and seem delighted to learn all about me.
They act like a righteous nation
that would never abandon the laws of its God.
They ask me to take action on their behalf,
pretending they want to be near me.
‘We have fasted before you!’ they say.
‘Why aren’t you impressed?
We have been very hard on ourselves,
and you don’t even notice it!’
“I will tell you why!” I respond.
“It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. . . .
You humble yourselves
by going through the motions of penance,
bowing your heads
like reeds bending in the wind.
You dress in burlap
and cover yourselves with ashes.
Is this what you call fasting?
Do you really think this will please the LORD?” (Isa. 58:2–3, 5 NLT)
Often evil pretends to be good. When our profession of faith is not congruent with our possession of Christ, sin gets normalized through deceptive rationalizations. The expression of evil is then disguised in the charade of goodness. Evil may present itself with a demeanor of goodness to the point we wonder, How could such a good person do this? Then we must look deeper at the possibility that the alleged goodness is merely a facade to disguise evil.
“Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness” (Luke 11:35 NLT).
“And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!” (Matt. 6:23 NLT).
Some may lead others to believe that their basic heart is good with only random aspects of sinfulness so that their unhealthiness is promptly dismissed as soon as convenient and their evil becomes normalized. After all, we are all going to make mistakes, right?
“Don’t scheme against each other. Stop your love of telling lies that you swear are the truth. I hate all these things, says the LORD” (Zech. 8:17 NLT).
The LORD spoke to Jeremiah about the pretense of Israel. God knows the ache we feel when individuals only pretend to be sorry.
During the reign of King Josiah, the LORD said to me, “Have you seen what fickle Israel has done? Like a wife who commits adultery, Israel has worshiped other gods on every hill and under every green tree. I thought, ‘After she has done all this, she will return to me.’ But she did not return, and her faithless sister Judah saw this. She saw that I divorced faithless Israel because of her adultery. But that treacherous sister Judah had no fear, and now she, too, has left me and given herself to prostitution. Israel treated it all so lightly—she thought nothing of committing adultery by worshiping idols made of wood and stone. So now the land has been polluted. But despite all this, her faithless sister Judah has never sincerely returned to me. She has only pretended to be sorry. I, the LORD, have spoken!” (Jer. 3:6-10 NLT)
Do you really want what God wants, or do you just say you want what God wants?