As humans, being corrupted by sin through and through apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, we have an incredible ability to seem good on the outside, even when we are rotten to the core. We see a striking example of this in the gospel of John. The context of our passage is that the Jewish authorities are now set on killing Jesus, and they are bringing Him before the Roman governor, Pilate. We read,
Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. – John 18:28
This would be laughable if it were fiction. Here, the Jewish authorities have murder in their hearts, they bring false charges against the Savior, but they want to make sure they don’t get defiled so they can eat the Passover. (Entering a Gentile’s house was something that could disqualify you from participation in the feast.)
A moment later, Pilate would tell them to handle the matter themselves. We read,
Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” – John 18:31
Again, these rulers want to stay above board on this. They want to be blameless for this act. And while they may appear to be blameless before the people, they are certainly not blameless before God, the One whom they want to worship on the Passover.
You see how twisted the human mind can be? And in the flesh, sheep, we are not invincible from this kind of hypocrisy. Think about when you have had some sort of besetting sin, but you would show up to church in your Sunday best, and no one was the wiser. Because of this human tendency toward hypocrisy, we require two things:
Since we all have this radical corruption, and since such sinfulness earns the infinite wrath of God, we need to be saved. If you have trusted Jesus with your salvation and life, you are indeed saved. If you haven’t, then you still stand in the way of God’s fury. You may be good-ish on the outside, but it’s not enough to please the One who can see your heart. But turn from your sin, right now, and give your life to Jesus, and you will be saved.
As Christians, though we have been declared not guilty because of Christ’s work, we still have this tendency. But praise God, the Holy Spirit is causing that to decrease and our humility to increase. Sanctification is synergistic. In other words, just as we saw in yesterday’s post, we are called to work out our own salvation as He works in us. So, we need to actively be putting to death this kind of hypocrisy, and confessing our sins to one another, and encouraging one another. And one day, on that day, we will have this corruption no more.
Finally, we’re reminded that even the heinous sin of the Jewish authorities was all according to plan:
This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die. – John 18:32