The Great Masquerade
The goal is to appear better; more intelligent, courageous or compassionate. It seems harmless. But there is an inherent danger in this masquerade.
Your mask can become who you actually think you are.
Sometimes these people forget they’re wearing a mask.
The Danger of Self-Deception
If the mask is convincing, people will respond positively to the person they believe the mask-wearer to be. He or she is showered with praise and admiration, because of their “outward persona.”
This becomes a trap; because being loved and adored by people is highly addictive to the human psyche. Soon the masquerader starts buying his or her own “false advertising.”
Because of this, wise people who are wealthy or famous, always keep a truth-teller in their inner circle. Someone who sees their weaknesses clearly. These people function as good counselors and always give honest feedback. “No, this is not a good idea.” “You’re coming across as arrogant” or “Your ego is getting the better of you.”
Unfortunately, masqueraders avoid truth-tellers. Their outward persona is meant to conceal the flawed human underneath—from everyone.
The end result?
Hypocrites often forget they’re wearing a mask. And of course, the big problem is sooner or later, the mask slips.
God approves of an honest, grief-stricken sinner. I believe He will always eventually expose concealed sin in His children. He loves us too much not to, because hidden sin can never be dealt with.
The Pharisees’ Downfall
After the last Old Testament prophet Malachi, God fell silent for 400 years. No more prophets arose in Israel to speak God’s true words. Then the Pharisee class arose in Israel. The Pharisees devoted their lives to examining the Holy Scriptures. Surely these religious experts knew Yahweh’s will. They became revered moral leaders among God’s people. No one outwardly challenged their spiritual authority—until John the Baptist. Yahweh sent a truth teller. John started to confront people—including the Pharisees—about their sin.
And then, Jesus came.
The Jewish people were used to a harshly critical and condemning Deity, who scowled down at them because of their filthy sinfulness. That’s the type of god the Pharisees reflected, by their actions and their words.
Christ’s enjoyment of people, His teaching about Yahweh’s mercy and His revelation of the loving Father-Heart of God blew through the Jewish nation like a cool, refreshing breeze.
Jesus, the One Who Reveals Hearts
When Jesus came, He treated everyone gently—except Israel’s religious leaders. The Lord’s harshest criticisms smashed into these “defenders of divine truth” again and again. Why was Christ so harsh with the Pharisees? First, by their teaching and attitude, these “spiritual leaders” maligned God’s character. Secondly, I believe our merciful Lord was trying to pierce through the thick layer of pride and self-satisfaction these spiritual leaders felt about their level of godliness.
Time after time, Jesus ripped their masks off.
Christ showed the Pharisees their true sinful nature and their need for a Savior. If they’d had a heart toward God, realizing their hidden hypocrisy would have grieved them. Instead it stirred up murderous hatred for the One who exposed their heart’s true condition.
Because, most painful of all, Jesus revealed the Pharisees’ hidden hypocrisy to themselves.
The Pharisees did many godly things, like praying, teaching the scriptures and giving to the poor. But their critical nature reflected no humility, mercy or kindness. As blind shepherds, bent on condemning “sinners,” the Pharisees failed to realize that in God’s eyes they too were spiritually impoverished.
17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. (Revelation 3:17-18 NIV)
Unfortunately, when confronted with their sin, the Pharisees didn’t fall to their knees and repent. Instead, because of their pride, greed and rebellious heart against God, they chose to respond in a very sinful way.
Israel’s spiritual leaders ended up murdering the Messiah they had eagerly waited for.
A Final Challenge
Self-deception is almost impossible for us to recognize. Like the Pharisees, we need to stand before the One who knows all men’s hearts.
And if our hearts are revealed to be hard in a certain area, we need to cry out and ask the Lord to change us.
All images are by Pixabay.com.