Fake holiness is as carnal as it’s opposite – debauchery. Those that purse their lips and assess others as to what they should and should not do according to their own notions of purity are in as much danger of hell as any drunk given over completely to his intoxication.
The Pharisees fell into this deadly trap even to the point of judging Jesus’ actions; “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” (John 7:21-24)
The prideful Pharisees failed to judge correctly which is as sinful as any other sin. The religious establishment of Jesus’ day was completely given over to intoxicating pride; “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.Everything they do is done for people to see . . . ” (Matthew 23:2-5) Judging correctly carries a burden of humility and desire to help others in a loving way.
Fake holiness and the idolatrous religion it imposes on others creates havoc; “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23:13-14) Fake holiness with great effort and fanfare plants more of its sinful likeness as well as collateral sin in the world.
Fake holiness works on the outside for all to see while leaving the inside damaged and broken; “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew 23:27:28) This ‘fakery’ leaves the church as desolate as it did the temple; “Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (v. 38,39)
The telling note of fake holiness is that it is never satisfied with anything else but itself; “For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” (Luke 7:33,34) Fake holiness worships itself.
Paul warned the church against submitting to the judgement of fake holiness; “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you.” (Colossians 2:16-18) Jesus was very clear that it isn’t what we take in that defiles us. Rather it is what we bring forth out of our hearts that make us unclean; “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” (Matthew 15:17-29)
Judgments about a person’s holiness based on outward shows of religiosity and purity say more about the person making the judgment than the one being judged; “Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.” (Colossians 2:18,19) And that head is Jesus Christ – when we lose touch with Him we become desolate and abandoned to our own lusts; “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (v. 21-23)
Jesus calls us back from prideful fake holiness, he calls our burdened victims as well; “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
His love is the true Spirit which makes us holy; “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23)
This is true holiness – to abide daily with Jesus!