2018-02-03 / Religion

A divided self will come to ruin

And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: (Matthew 12:25 KJV)

In context in Matthew 12, Jesus is confronting those who accused him of being on the devil’s side. Jesus’s reasoning is perfect; if he is doing something Satan would hate, it must not be of Satan.

In the process, Jesus reveals an important principle to us; something, or someone, who is divided will not stand. A divided thing or institution or nation or person will come to ruin.

A divided self will most certainly come to ruin!

Jesus said, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me’” (Mark 7:6 ESV) And, it’s worth noting the whole thought from Isaiah: “And the Lord said: ‘Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men’” (Isaiah 29:13 ESV)

Now, let’s think on this for a moment.

God gave us Isaiah to speak to us hundreds of years before Immanuel reiterated his message in person. What he is saying is plain enough: a person who says one thing with their mouths but doesn’t experience the reality in their heart is divided.

What this verse reveals is there are a great many people who put on a pious front while maintaining a profane affection. We all know that facades are meant to convince a cursory glance, and they work well as stage props, but their reality leaves nothing of substance for which one might dwell safely.

Continuing, indeed, let’s think even more deeply about this reality.

Firstly, to be true to and in our own selves, we cannot allow ourselves to be divided in such a state. We cannot say we love God and not actually love God, and we ought not be comfortable attempting to fool ourselves, and woe to us if we are successful! The prophet Jeremiah does say the heart is deceitful and wicked, and that we can’t know it, so we’d best be willing to take an inventory of our present reality.

Secondly, if we are going to be true to others, we cannot live with such a divided reality.

The hypocrite is sometimes able to fool others often, but not everyone forever, and always to their own injury.

Our hypocrisy usually only hurts the weak and vulnerable – the wise see through it and the strong endure it – and isn’t it most terrible that the power of our hypocrisy affects the weakest among us? Shame on us and sorry for them. But, we can turn. We can. Make the right thing genuine.

Lastly, and worst of all, this division of self breaks fellowship with God. It’s true no matter which reality is genuine. If we really love God in our heart, it will flow through, to, and from our lips. We will praise. We will exalt. We will witness. It will be personal, but it will not be private. If it’s fake in our hearts, it’s fake on our lips. If it’s fake on our lips, it never originated with a genuine heart. We can clearly see, fake lips or a fake heart both break fellowship with a genuine God.

What any of these conditions of self-division do is feed the monster of vanity. We want the praise and/or approval of men, so we put on a show for them, that we might be pleased by their approval. We put on a show for ourselves, that we might find some faux peace and deny the cries of guilt and the call to repentance.

What to do? If we find ourselves divided, repent. What if we don’t know? I’d say read 1 John and James and Romans and John and the other gospels.

Take an inventory. Do you say you love God but your affections are spent on every pursuit but God?

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