This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” – 1 Jn 1:5-10 (ESV)
There is an interesting paradox in the Gospel. I was thinking about the paradox last night, and then I opened my Bible to 1 John and saw it right there. The paradox is that you have to not be sinful: yet, you have to admit that you’re sinful. If you’re sinful, you can’t be in His presence: but if you say you’re not sinful, you’re lying. You have to be good: but you have to admit that you’re bad.
The good news is that our access to the King is based upon redemption and adoption. It’s all about His grace, not about our own righteousness. This is why a religious practice that is based on pretending is so extremely dangerous. Practicing religion based on external appearance is hypocritical. In order to avoid hypocrisy, honesty should be the most important attribute of our daily Christian walk.
I don’t have kids, but I grew up with a Dad who’s a worship leader (and when I was a teenager I was mad at him a lot). So I like what Chuck Swindoll said about honesty in The Grace Awakening (p. 101):
When you blow it, say, “I blew it.” If you don’t know, admit the truth. It’s okay not to know. And the next time your kids spot hypocrisy, even though you may feel embarrassed, agree with them, “You know what, kids? You’re right. I was a first-class hypocrite. What you saw and pointed out is exactly right.” Tell them that. It may sound embarrassing to you now, but they will admire and respect your admission. And they won’t grow up damaged. Best of all, they will learn to model the same kind of vulnerability and honesty, even if you are in vocational Christian work . . . especially if you’re in vocational Christian work. Nobody expects perfection, but they do and they should expect honesty.
(The principle goes beyond just parents and children and should apply to other relationships as well.)