Simon and Garfunkel released a song in 1967 called Fakin’ It. In the famous duo are the lyrics “I’ve just been fakin’ it, I’m not really makin’ it, This feeling of fakin’ it. I still haven’t shaken it.” The sad premise to the song features a man who knows beyond a doubt that he’s faking it. And the idea that he still hasn’t shaken it implies that he’s tried to do so and failed. There are a specific group of people in the New Testament whose fakeness Jesus made a purposeful effort to reveal. Out of anyone that Jesus openly rebuked for their hypocrisy, the Pharisees were at the top of the list. In Matthew 23:27, Jesus says, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” Jesus didn’t pull back; He laid out the truth plain and simple for the Pharisees to hear. Even though we might not like it, we need to hear that same truth just as much as they did.
Faking Our Walk With God
I have recently been working on beautifying the flower beds in front of my family’s house. I decided that before I am even able to think about planting flowers, it is necessary to clear the weeds from the bed. If the weeds are not first removed, then there is no point in planting flowers because no one would even know that they were there. Because I’m not huge on yard maintenance, I began by simply pulling up the weeds as fast as possible. Now, it was not difficult to quickly rid the flower bed of weeds, however, something soon happened that opened my eyes to the reality of how difficult the task actually would be. The weeds that I had hastily pulled up came back, and they came back in no time at all. Because I did not remove the roots, the weeds were not really gone. I had managed to give the flower bed an external makeover, but I had not actually fixed the problem. If someone had come over to my house the day after I had pulled the weeds, they would have been impressed by the progress I had made. But they would have been wrongly impressed, because the truth of the matter was that I was faking it.
Some of us are faking it. Our walk with Jesus, our devotion to the Lord, our involvement in the kingdom of God, and our love for one another is part of an external makeover that we have constructed in order to impress those who don’t know what’s on the inside. Now, you may not be faking everything. It may just be one area in which you get that feeling that you can’t shake. But weather it’s one area or it’s every area, there’s a simple truth that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees, and we need to hear it today. It doesn’t matter how much you get right on the outside. If what’s on the inside is not right, then the outside doesn’t make a difference.
Destroying the Roots
I learned how to fix the weed problem in my flower beds, but it wasn’t the easy fix for which I was hoping. I discovered that the only way to truly remove the weeds was to pull them up from their roots. I had to dig in the dirt, and I had to till up the earth. I had to find out what was really underneath and remove it if it did not belong. Once I did that, the weeds did not come back. Until I destroyed the roots, the only thing I could achieve was a temporary appearance of order.
In Matthew 7:17-18 Jesus lets us know that appearances cannot last.
“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.”
Then in verses 21-13, Jesus states another simple truth that we need to hear.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ ”
The Inside is What Matters
This can be hard to hear. Jesus is talking about someone who had everything together on the outside, but they were missing the one essential on the inside—they did not know Jesus. If you are faking it and you know it, and if you recognize that you have had to whitewash some areas of your life that you don’t want people to see, then it’s time to fix the inside. It’s time to yank out those roots, and the only way to do that is by filling yourself with Christ. You might feel like there’s no fixing the facade that you’ve had to live with, but let me remind you of what Jesus said to one Pharisee who came asking. Nicodemus approached Jesus at night wanting to know about this man who had come from God. Now, after the accusations Jesus had made publicly against the Pharisees, it would be easy to assume that Jesus would do the same to Nicodemus. We might even assume that Jesus would say I’m sorry but you’re a Pharisee. You don’t get to enter in. But that’s not what Jesus said. He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3b) Jesus gave Nicodemus the keys to the kingdom. He let him know how to gain access to the life that God was offering through His Son.
You might feel a little bit like a Pharisee, but that feeling is not necessarily a bad thing because it is a step toward accepting the truth. The truth is that no one is innocent of sin. We have all fallen short, and we all need to be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God. Being born again requires us to believe and confess Jesus as our Lord. It means that a new nature (His nature) is able to be birthed inside of us. Once He is living in us, then He begins to work on removing the weeds that we have tried to cover up. If you have made Jesus Lord, and yet you still feel like the roots of sin are evident, then it’s time to dig deep and bring those roots to the light.
Jesus says to Nicodemus in verses 20-21, “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” Jesus has given us the keys to the kingdom, and the key is knowing Him. Get to know Him more by bringing your deeds to Him and laying them at His feet. Remove the dirt that has been hiding those roots and bring them up into the light. When you do this, He is able to work on the inside so that your deeds reflect Him. The best part about exposing your deeds and letting Jesus clean you out is that you no longer have to fake it. Once the inside is right, the outside will be right too.