The Problem with Whitewashing
“There was a time when I wouldn’t admit what a sinner I was. But my dishonesty made me miserable and filled my days with frustration.” (Psalm 32:3 LB)
Let’s face it: nobody likes to admit being wrong. The difference between true believers and pseudo-Christians very much hinges on whether or not they are willing to acknowledge and turn from their sins. Oh, people are willing to acknowledge sin in a general way but do their utmost to avoid humbly admitting to specific acts of sin. Only the Lord can tell the difference between true and false conversions and that really isn’t what I want to touch on here.
Instead, I want to talk about the way believers conduct themselves in daily life. I believe this is an important spiritual principle: the level of a person’s life in God is directly tied to the degree he or she has allowed the Lord to deal with their sinful nature. The only way a person can be full of God is to first be emptied of Self. This primarily happens through the process of repentance.
Jesus told the Pharisees that they were like “whitewashed tombs.” He went on to say, “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27-28) In other words, rather than allowing the Lord to really deal with their sinful natures, they “whitewashed” their lives with a superficial façade of godliness.
They were full of the spirit of hypocrisy—the mentality that they would act as though they were really walking with God while keeping the Holy Spirit at arm’s length. “…holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power…” the apostle Paul would later say. (2 Timothy 3:5) They were content to be spiritual fakes.
For all of their minute rules and regulations, the Pharisees were actually full of lawlessness. They did not want God telling them what to do. They were willing to maintain the image of righteousness but were unwilling to fight for the real thing.
There was a period of David’s life when he lapsed into this kind of falsehood, but when the misery of his hypocrisy became too much to bear, he collapsed in a heap of godly sorrow over his sin. Thank God we can always repent!
And how about you? Do you really allow the Lord to deal with your sinful tendencies, selfish attitudes and wrong motives? Or do you content yourself with putting on an act of godliness while keeping the door of your heart closed to the Lord?