Whitewashed Tombs
Part 2

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In America, not only have we increasingly failed to fulfill our divine mandate to draw the hearts of people back to God, but we have sown and cultivated seeds of the very behaviors that are provoking God to judge our nation. Rather than prioritize righteousness, Americans have championed sexual perversion over sexual purity, greed and materialism over generosity, narratives over truth, and a culture of death over a culture of life. Even within the church, we have often ignored these cultural issues from without while tacitly accepting them from within. Moreover, rather than model Jesus’ humility, faithfulness to God’s Word, and dependency upon the Holy Spirit, we ourselves have often displayed a spirit of pride and self-sufficiency. We have frequently shown ourselves to be lukewarm instead of living a surrendered, faith-filled life for Jesus, regardless of the cost.

Let us not deceive ourselves into believing we are more righteous than we truly are—like the religious leaders in the time of Jesus whose spiritual pride blinded them to the work God was accomplishing: “‘What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:27–28). When God judged the nation of Israel for its rebellion, God’s judgment fell also upon these religious leaders who were quick, throughout the gospels, to condemn the conduct of others (Matt. 23:36).

Before we critique other people’s behavior and exhort them to repent, we ourselves must first determine what remains to be repented of in our own lives. Jesus cautions, “How can you think of saying, ‘Friend, let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye” (Luke 6:42).

Although we assent to Christ in our minds, we may not always assent to Him in our hearts. This partial allegiance may fool others, but it will not fool God, who is able to discern the motivations of our heart: “People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives” (Prov. 16:2). Some of us have become comfortable living in a rebellious nation because a part of our heart has never relinquished all of our nation’s cultural idols. However, the end result of such divided loyalty is still judgment. Indeed, this is the mentality God addresses in Revelation 18:4 when judging Babylon: “‘Come away from her, my people. Do not take part in her sins, or you will be punished with her.”

God requires total allegiance. When He shakes a nation to the point that its cultural idols fall, everyone still clinging to those idols will fall with them—regardless of whether they are numbered among the people of God. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us to evaluate our hearts to determine whether we have given God our full allegiance. Before we warn others of the consequences of living in continued rebellion, let us be certain to fully repent of our own refusal to obey God’s instructions (1 John 1:9).

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Biblegateway.com.