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Written by Mindy Schuman

Many times in scripture, Jesus emphasized that holiness and righteousness extends far beyond someone’s outward appearance, beyond their background, beyond even their nationality and gender. So many times Christians assume that those who appear to look and act outwardly holy are in fact living a sanctified and holy life before God and teaching in truth. Unfortunately, many times Christians whose outward appearance seems to convey this outward holiness are in fact unrighteousness and self indulgent (Matthew 23:27) on the inside according to scripture.

This is why it’s so important to discern for yourself, with the help of Holy Spirit, to guard your heart with these types of Christians. While it’s true that our inward state of being should reflect on the outside, we can be easily fooled by those with intentions that are not pure and who do not have God’s heart even though they would like others to believe they do.

Let’s look at the following scripture:

Matthew 21:28-32

A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.”
Matthew 21:28-32 ESV

In the verses above, Jesus is speaking to those who did not believe John the Baptist who came in truth and righteousness. John the Baptist did not look or act like the typical teacher and he was discounted by those who didn’t believe. But notice who Jesus says did believe John. Jesus says that even tax collectors and prostitutes believed him. The groups of society that were most looked down upon and counted unworthy, these are the ones who actually heard the gospel and believed.

The Lord is dealing with many in this hour about religious pride. That is to say that not all who appear godly are so, and not all that do not appear godly are so. We have heard this many times most likely, but the Lord has been showing me that many are still lacking discernment throughout their lives and not heeding His warnings. We are allowing counterfeit believers to infiltrate our lives and allowing them to influence us wrongly. Letting counterfeit believers and those with wrong motives have influence in our lives will bring deception in the way that we will begin to believe is our outward appearance and our works that make us right with God. But this is not what God’s word tells us. It is our heart, our inward desire to be consecrated and humble before God and our relationship with him that keeps us in fellowship and walking uprightly before him.

In the same way, we often discount those that God is using in holiness and teaching in righteousness as John the Baptist did, but may not look like or have a background that the church would give their approval to and receive truth from.

Let’s look at one more scripture reference in regard to this:

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.””
I Corinthians 1:26-31 NKJV

We can see in these verses that God uses what some would call “weak”, what some would call “low” and would some would call “foolish” to show himself strong through. What many in the church have dismissed and discounted, God is elevating and using to bring truth and freedom to His remnant.

My prayer for all of us today is that we would receive God’s message of truth and be willing to no longer just look upon a person’s appearance and background as a means to justify their righteousness and purity of heart. Let us be willing to hear from God and let Holy Spirit guide and teach us as to who is of God and who is doing His work, His will and worshiping Him in spirit and in truth.

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