In the book of Acts there is the story of Ananias and Saphira. They sold some land, kept some of the money and gave the rest to the Lord. When asked they said they gave it all to the Lord. God killed them both for lying to the Holy Spirit. What was their sin? It wasn’t keeping some of the money, they were entitled to do that. It was lying to the Holy Spirit. Why lie? They wanted to appear holier than they actually were. I do that all the time. It’s not so much of a real desire to be holy, as much as a desire for others to think I’m holy. There’s a story in the 1 Samuel 15 in which Saul only does part of what God commanded him to. The Lord rejected Saul that day. Saul said he was sorry and Samuel told him that that wasn’t enough. In verse 30 Saul said, “I have sinned yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel.”
I had the privilege of attending Sandy Wilson’s church Sunday and he said this isn’t an example of repentance, it’s an example of image maintenance. Saul cared about how he looked more than who he was or who he sinned against. How often am I more concerned about reputation than I am real character? I love to look good, but don’t like to be good very often. I repent like a hypocrite when I’m more sorry that I got caught. I obey like a hypocrite when I don’t obey from the heart, but rather for show. It’s time to fear God more than we fear people. It’s time to be different and not just appear different.