HELP! I’M A SPIRITUAL FAKE by William Boekestein for Core Christianity
Very few people I know are deluded enough to say they never sin. We all know better. We betray even our own sense of right and wrong often enough to leave us convinced we have a problem.
But as much as possible we don’t want others to know better. The thought of owning our faults scares us. We think we would lose credibility if we told the truth about our struggles. Transparency would expose us for the highly flawed people we know we are. So we downplay our sin and puff up our righteousness. We admit that are not perfect but rarely identify specific sins. We tacitly believe that by hiding our sin we maintain our integrity. We prefer the story of our obedience even if it is pure fiction. We play spiritual charades to maintain a façade of goodness. We move the lines; “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18) becomes “don’t have extra-marital sex.” Voilà, I’m not so bad! We compare ourselves with others or our past selves; nothing like a worse sinner to make me seem okay. We skew the facts. I view pornography without lusting. I simply find the pictures beautiful. We make up (and stringently obey) rules that our community respects but which God might care nothing about.
But God warns us: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). Walking in the light (1:7) is not a show of morality in which we exaggerate our holiness. Puffed up piety never made a person close to God. The more we cultivate a religion based on maintaining appearances the more the façade of godliness becomes our comfort instead of Christ.
There is an alternative: “If we confess our sins…” (1:9). In the gospels it was the people who couldn’t pretend credibility who were first to admit their brokenness. The “sinners” couldn’t play the game of keeping up appearances. So they surrendered to Jesus and found salvation. The Scribes and Pharisees bluffed righteousness; they had a persona to maintain. They couldn’t disappoint their audience. So they minimized their sin and failed to walk with God. We practice liberating confession when we are open enough with God to get specific about our moral failures and the innate faults that lead to those failures.