Why do Christians Seem Two-Faced?
A married Christian friend, Sarah, vehemently expressed her disbelief about how a mutual friend of yours could cheat on her husband and claim to be a Christian. The next week you are out with some friends and Sarah starts flirting with another man.
You’re out one night with some friends, and your married Christian friend, Rebecca, starts flirting with another man.
These two women, Sarah and Rebecca, represent the two definitions of being two-faced.
1. The first definition is hypocritical or double-dealing; deceitful. It is the definition we most commonly associate with this term and is represented by Sarah. She claimed one thing then did another.
2. The second definition is literally having two faces or surfaces. True Christians have two conflicting natures – one driven by their flesh one driven by their spirit – in a sense two faces. This is represented by Rebecca. She didn’t claim one thing then do another, so she wasn’t being hypocritical. What we saw was the face of her flesh.
Christians who are two-faced in regards to the first definition are those who aren’t Christians and say they are or those who think or claim they are “good”.
We all understand hypocrisy, but what we often misunderstand are those who fall under the second definition.
This post touches upon an area that is often misunderstood in Christianity– even among Christians. How often have we heard from other Christians something like- “I can’t believe she did that – and she is a Christian!”
Battle between the flesh and spirit
In a previous blog, Where to Focus – A Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I talked about the battle authentic Christians face between the flesh and spirit. The more I abide in God’s Word the more the dissonance between my flesh and spirit becomes apparent. It is a strange phenomenon living with this duality. And one that people can’t understand if they have never experienced it. This is why many non-Christians can’t understand why Christians are so faulty. How can we talk about this new life and yet do things so contrary? How can we talk about the love of God in our lives and yet do something so utterly unloving?
The reason is we are living with two wills – one of the flesh and one of the spirit. (flesh being our self-will and spirit being of the will of God) Sometimes the one we don’t want, the flesh, is the one that shows up in situations. Romans 7:15-25 We do what we don’t want to do. When our self-will takes over, then bam we’re critical, inappropriately judgmental, complaining, hurtful, selfish, passive, prideful, arrogant, and so on.
If you are truly a Christian you don’t want to do these things, but you do and a lot more often than you want to. Growing in the spirit life takes time. It is a journey. God designed it this way for several reasons that I’ll address in a later blog.
In the beginning, Christians understand their corrupted nature. It is this awareness that helps them to grasp the meaning and purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice. However, immediately after the awareness of a new life – sometimes it’s assumed that they are supposed to be immediately good. I don’t believe it works that way. It is a process.
The spirit starts small in us like a baby – it takes time for the spirit to grow. It takes time abiding in God’s Word, which is the nourishment for our spirit. (Which few truly do.) If we don’t abide, then our spirit stays weak and the flesh dominates. It takes years for our spirit to grow even with proper nourishment – like it does a child. As we learn and grow throughout our entire physical lives, so do we in our spiritual lives. We will never walk perfectly in the spirit while living in these physical bodies. So there will always be a falleness about us. But if we nourish our spirit, it will grow stronger and over time we live more in the spirit than in the flesh. 1 Corinthians 3:1-3
No One is Good
Usually our judgment of goodness is based on each other. Well I’m better than him! I’m better than most! I’m a pretty good person! But God views goodness from His goodness. And that is the goodness I’m talking about. No one is good against the standard of a holy, pure and perfect God. That is why God gave us Jesus Christ to stand in our place. He judges our goodness against true goodness – not our definitions which vary person to person. And His judgment is the only one that matters.
We would do ourselves a huge favor by removing this misnomer of goodness. Any true goodness is of God and God working in us. It is all Him. John 15:5
If we accept the praise of goodness from others or call ourselves or anyone else good we are being hypocritical and fall under the first definition. Then we are being a poor witness to the truth that no one is truly good but God.
Matthew 19:17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
I love this verse because it lays it all out. We aren’t good. We enter eternal life not by our goodness, but by Christ’s. One of His commandments is to trust in His righteousness not our own. If we trust in our own, we will be judged by our own, and in the eyes of a holy God we don’t have a chance of standing for a second.
When you see Christians acting “out of line” – don’t be so quick to judge. We are to help one another not stand pointing a finger. It is a struggle for all of us. And the closer you draw near to God and His purity the more you see yourself as you are without Him, wretched, and the more understanding and compassion you will have for the struggle of others. God is judge. We are to encourage and exhort each other not because it is about being good, but when we walk in His commands and wisdom we walk closer with Him and experience more of the abundant life He came to give and His power is shown to the world.