“How can you tell me to turn from my ‘sins’? I’ve been around you long enough to see that you do the same ‘sins’ I do. So why should I listen to anything you have to say about turning from my ‘sins’?”
The charge of hypocrisy has been well-earned by many in our faith and unfortunately, they do not have too hard to find it. But as we draw closer to the day of our Lord’s coming, this will become a far more serious issue. Before the final events in Bible prophecy unfold, God will warn the world before Jesus returns (Amos 3:7; Mal. 4:5,6). But many hearts have been hardened against the Lord by the believers in our faith who “…say and do not” (Matt. 23:2). Should these faithless ones call upon the world to repent now, they would receive a response similar to the one aforementioned. A great work must be done to counter the evil we have wrought by indulging our sins.
But where are we to begin this countering work? Before a great assembly of persons? On our respective social media platforms? A television studio? No, no. The world must behold our saving faith in our lives. In private, in our goings and comings, at our places of work, and in our times of recreation, we must apply the principles of our faith daily, individually. Practical godliness in the last days will preach a sermon more effective than any message that could be given in the pulpit on the last days. It is in these little moments, not the great ones, that our faith is seen and tested. But how is the world to see this message? How will we see it?
The world will see our faith in everything we say. The disciples of Jesus were known by their purity of language, for it is written,
“And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew” (Matt. 26:73, 74).
As we grow closer to God, our very manner of conversing with others will change from one corrupted and profitable for nothing (lying, gossiping, cursing, foolish talking, etc.) to one that is holy and edifies its hearers (Eph. 4:25, 29, 31, 5:4). Godly communication builds our relationships with others and ministers to their needs. Ungodly conversing can only create unhealthy relationships and gradually destroy healthy ones.
“But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:15,16).
Our actions will also preach of our saving faith in the last days. The many associates and friends we’ve made in our former lives will surely notice our absence, and they will come looking for us. When they find us, they will find persons who have confessed and forsaken their sinful habits and practices (Prov. 28:13). We will not have fashioned our faith according to our former lusts (1 Pet. 1:13, 14). In hearing and doing His will daily, we will have built our faith on the Rock and our friends will surely see the difference it has made (Matt. 7:24, 25). They may join us in our new faith or even forsake us, but the impression we will have made will not be easily forgotten. It may even be the very means God will use to deliver them.
‘For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Rom. 2:13).
Those who truly live by this faith, who truly collaborate with the divine intelligences (the Godhead) to gain the victory over every sin, will see a change in their very thoughts. Before the disciples had a zeal for their work and for the nations trapped in their sins, their thoughts were fixated on worldly ambitions and supremacy over one another (Mk. 9:34, 10:35-37; Lk. 9:46). But as their walk with Jesus became their delight, the things they once cherished gradually faded. Their thoughts were gradually directed to the things of heaven; and what other form are our thoughts expressed to the world but in our communications with and actions towards others? No wonder, then, are we counseld to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:10, 12)!
Practical godliness, godliness in actions, will speak louder than any man’s words in the last days. It spoke volumes in the days of the patriarchs, the prophets, the kings, and the early church. Even though we have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, a fact we are continuously reminded of, we can still redeem the time. By putting the godliness of our faith in actions, we can testify that Jesus’ coming is near.
Some believe themselves rich and increased with goods, having need of nothing (Rev. 3:14-17). They think that they don’t need to overcome their sins. But there are many who just don’t know where to begin this personal reformation. For those who desire a renewed faith, I will give you practical, biblical instruction on how to begin. If you are not serious about doing this, it cannot and will not be done.
“Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you” (Phil. 3:15). (emphasis supplied)
Your eyes may be opaque because of our sins and you may not know not where you fall short of perfection. Ask God to reveal it to you. Ask Him to make it plain where you fall short and He will do this.
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Prov. 28:13). (emphasis supplied)
Confess this failure to God. Seek His forgiveness and the divine power to forsake these sins. Though He was without sin, Jesus set before all men an example, the way by which we can receive eternal life. It was the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that gave Jesus the power to overcome sin. It is written,
“I can of mine own self do nothing…” (Jn. 5:30).
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Pet. 1:22). (emphasis supplied)
I give you this instruction not as one who merely studies the truth, but as one who experiences this very thing. I persistently ask the Lord to show me where I fall short and to make it plain to me. He faithfully answers this prayer, whether by His Word, the testimony of His messengers, or even by dreams. Every day, I confess these sins and strive to overcome them (Gen. 32:24-26; Hos. 12:4). Why? Because if I truly believe in what I teach to you, then I myself must be instructed. I must also undergo this experience and strive for practical godliness.
“I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway “(1 Cor. 9:26, 27).
There are those who say in their heart that I take this matter too seriously. “It’s not that serious”, they reason. I counter such reasoning with this one question: “When you finally see for yourself the things God said were going to happen actually happening; when you run to warn your family, friends, and loved ones, do you want them to believe you?” Lot’s own sons-in-law did not believe him, and they were lost (Gen. 19:12-15). How many of the ones we claim to love will be lost in like manner because we did not make our godly faith practical, because we did not take this matter seriously!
The Scriptures tell us that many of us in the faith in the last days will have a form of godliness, but deny its power (2 Tim. 3:5). Professing faith in God while denying the power He gives to become the sons and daughters of God is hypocrisy (Jn. 1:12). If we deny this faith and the power of it now, if we do not ask God to help us deal with our sins now, we will not be ready to warn our loved ones later.
We can do this. God can do this. If you trust God and step forward in faith, He will do this. All you need to do is ask to be willing to obey. Be willing to forsake your sins and He will make you able. Only one class of believers will inherit the kingdom of heaven and it will be they who answer the following question through practical godliness,
“…Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me…” (Exod. 32:26).