"Dignified seriousness" must be exercised from within an individual, not merely on the exterior. Specifically here, I speak of being honest with one's own self, as well as with one's fellowman. The Bible contains much teaching on the subject of practicing honesty both in word and deed to all those with whom we meet in everyday life. The Apostle Peter said to the brethren of his day and time, "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good words, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation" 1 Peter 2:12. Then in 2 Corinthians 8:21, Paul tells the church there, "Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of all men." Truly, the Bible says we must be honest with humankind.
On the same level, however, God's book also manifests the necessity of inward honesty. While there are many, many people who would not so much as think of being dishonest with anybody whose paths they cross, which is most commendable, by the same token, a lot of these same ones are not totally honest with the person they must live with the most and view in the mirror daily. This area of honesty is also required by God.
In Hebrews 11:6, the writer teaches, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Nobody can make it to Heaven on Judgment Day who is not honest with self. The combination of definitions used by W.E. Vine on "diligently" say, "earnestly; speedily; carefully; thoroughly; accurately; circumspectly; perfectly." Surely anyone of an open and accountable mind can see self-honesty hidden in all these definitions, for in order to possess such a mind composed of diligence, one would have to be just that----honest with self. So, by common sense, this would be mandatory with---and accompany----being honest in one's own mind!
Complete honesty with self, as well as with the rest of humanity, is what makes up a righteous man, along with leading a man to reach such a state. Luke's account of Jesus' explanation of the Parable Of The Sower declares in chapter 8:15, "But that on the good ground are those which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. " "Keep it, " Luke teaches. The man honest with his own inward spirit will not only accept the words of God, he will also retain them in his life, thus, never letting them go. This one will realize all the way that he must "Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding" Proverbs 23:23. Since truth can't be anything except that of being totally honest, the sincerity of a fully honest man will demand that he grasp all Biblical truth, and for the rest of his life, cling to it with a bulldog grip! This was part of a number of stern rebukes Jesus gave to the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23, especially in verses 25-28. Please read them. The hearts of these so-called "leaders" were far from being honest! This leads to the question: How honest are you and I?
One such man in the Old Testament that sought absolute honesty with his own self was King David. He tells us in Psalm 15:1-2,"Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? Who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart." The words "in his heart" would show that not only will the person who walks "uprightly" be honest with other people, he will live honestly with himself, and not be the product of a two-sided spirit (i.e., likewise speaking and living honestly when not in the presence of others, along with doing so because he knows that's what God expects of him, and so, he is honest, both inwardly and outwardly, not simply due to his having to be so, but also to his wanting to be so). Besides, doesn't God see all and hear all, right on down to being able to read what is in our hearts Hebrews 4:12? Just like our weekly contribution shouldn't be given out of a begrudging nature 2 Corinthians 9:7, so should complete, inward honesty not be done strictly out of its being a must. In fact, such can't be done. Honesty with one's own self will be what's adamantly desired, to be sure.
How honest are our hearts when it comes to the Word of God? Are we peeved at the Bible when we open its hallowed pages, read what it says, and find our toes being stepped on by a God who loves us and wants us to dwell with Him in eternity? To be angry at the scriptures is to be angry with your Creator who had them written, and such reveals the wrong kind of heart. Think about it! Do we hate it when the preacher, Bible class teacher, or some concerned Christian reads the scripture(s) that tell us we need to start doing something or cease doing it? What about some beliefs that need to be discontinued, as well as those needing to be embraced? Do we feel that our ideas are a "cut above" God's and/or everyone else's? Always better? What about having the humility and honesty to admit when we're wrong about something or someone? Sad to say, I've known those whom I've never, ever seen nor heard, no not once, admit being wrong, along with never, no not once, seeing nor hearing them apologize for· their erroneous actions. What about recognizing life to be a combination of give and take, instead of all taking? Is there a big need to improve character, but you refuse to do so? How about an addiction or a bad habit that needs so much to be broken? Are there "mending fences" that you need to do--or at least attempt--with others? What about certain hobbies, projects, or desired program(s) you wish to introduce to some group---or perhaps even engage in on your own? Are they desired out of pure and helpful motives, or is there an "axe to grind" at someone(s)? No doubt, the hardest person to conquer is self. This writer for one has learned some lessons along that line in life. The age-old saying goes, "Self-conquest is the greatest of victories." Amen and amen! All of these things stem from the need to develop inward honesty. Denial and cover-up accomplish the sum total of nothing, for respect and admiration are not gained by others trying earnestly to live the Christian life, or at least a morally decent life, and the worst kind of deceit sets in here: lying to one's own self! Well, can't the reader see that this isn't seeking honesty on the inside?
Of all creatures of the flesh existing, none can be more stubborn, stiff-necked, or bullheaded than the human being. Such is ever so evident in God's Word; not only of those whom we read about who were disobedient in the Old Testament---individuals, groups, throngs, Jews as well as Gentiles----but also many of the Jews living during and immediately after the time of Christ. Note what the beloved Stephen said to a group of Jews in his sermon, just prior to his being stoned to death by that same group, thus, greatly manifesting their dishonest hearts: "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ear, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it" Acts 7:51-53. "Jesus, we don't want you!" is what many a Jew said here to Stephen, as per their attitude and actions, as well as when Jesus spoke in their very presence. Read all four of the Gospel books and see the sad fact of this.
Honesty with Self - No.2
by Philip North,
The individual not containing a heart that is honest enough to allow the precious, loving, soul-saving gospel of Christ to sink into it in order for it to take root and grow, will ever, no never, succeed in obtaining eternal life----pure, plain, and simple! After all, Christ uttered those ever so wonderful words to Nicodemus, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). I can hear somebody saying right now, "Amen, Preacher! Jesus said that one must be baptized in order to be saved! For after all, Mark 16:16 and a number of other verses in the Bible plainly and clearly teach that!" That's right! So, the one who blatantly and stubbornly refuses baptism will be lost eternally in Hell, as the truly honest heart will accept and obey that particular passage, hence, resulting in the forgiveness of his sins.
Howbeit, I don't speak in the above paragraph of those who have been shown the truth of God for the first time, and often need time to think about what has been taught them, thus, allowing the gospel to take seed in their hearts. I'm referring to those who've heard the gospel preached and taught repeatedly month after month, year after year, and hence, are aware of what they need to do to have their sins remitted (Acts 2:38), but still spurn God's invitation to make their lives right with Him. This truly is the heart that (often) is blatantly stubborn, and so, not honest with one's self. This is nothing more than the sin of unbelief. Hebrews 3:12 declares, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." Unbelief is not limited to the alien sinner, but can as well enter into the heart of the child of God.
However, I also speak of the church member who will and should continue on with an honest heart in reference to his own self, as well. This type of person will realize the benefits that such will have to his everlasting soul, along too with life here on earth. He will also see the difference between being a Christian and a member of the church. While you can't be the former without being the latter, you can, in all truth and fact, be the latter without being the former. If one claims to follow and imitate Christ, then he must, as said, "diligently" seek to do so. Don't remain stuck and spoiled on what has been called "pet passages." Refuse to be selective in what commands you obey as a professed member of Christ's body. Shun allowing personal likes and dislikes----along with other people----to run your life, instead of what the Bible teaches. Learn that traditions and customs are often not issued from the mouth of God (Matthew 15: 1-20).
One who is honest with his own inward self will also battle, to the best of his ability, sins of omission. James 4:17 says, "Therefore to him, that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin." Oh, how that steps on all our toes from time to time! In speaking the Parable Of The Unfaithful Servant, Christ taught in Luke 12:47, "And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes." The person who is totally honest with himself sees----and accepts----all of this right away, and so, will act upon it! Refusing to do so will bother his conscience, thus, spurring him on to be zealous in the Lord's work. This will convict him to the point that he will want to avoid being with those (after a diligent effort in trying to get them to repent) who knew what the will of God was, but shunned it, and so, will cause himself to be lost eternally (Matthew 25:41-46). (Thanks be to the good Lord that not all of our friends outside of Christ are of the character to try and draw us away from trying to live right!) The really honest one on the inside will make it a point to utilize every talent he has within him for the Lord, whether public or private, for this man of God will know what talents he needs to use, hence, not neglecting to do so, as Christ taught in the Parable Of The Talents in Matthew 25: 14-30.
Indeed, the completely honest man of heart will not cheat nor lie to himself, let alone anybody else. Another adage applies: "A better world begins with me." So is this true for a better attitude; a better character; a better influence; a better marriage; a better parent; a better friendship; a better job performance; a better leader; a better follower; a better law-abiding citizen; and yes, collectively, this will result in a better congregation of the Lord's church!
Don't you wish to attract, rather than repel? Isn't it your desire to gain, instead of lose? All of this depends on how honest your heart really is about yourself. I suppose the hardest examination to give is the one to self. Besides, if a preacher is supposed to give such to himself as a leader, then why not the entire membership too? Aren't both parties supposed to set the proper example, and not just the preacher? Most definitely so!
All in all, be open and honest about your own self, as well as with other people. However, a word of caution is in place here: Do not let inward honesty cross over into being rude, perpetually complaining, and meddlesome. The Bible has much to say on these two subjects, as well. Contrary to what some people think, there are some thoughts we all need to keep to ourselves, without letting sin go, of course. Otherwise, all the honesty in the world shown to others, while both morally and Biblically necessary, still won't make up for denying pure honesty with one's own person, for it won’t save your soul in the end.
Along with baptism Jesus also told his apostles just prior to his ascension, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28:20). Are you diligently trying "to observe all things" commanded by Christ and his Heavenly Father? The Savior won't become nor remain our Savior if we don't obey Him both in and after our baptism, as well. In 1 John 1:7, it says, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all unrighteousness." This controversial "continuous cleansing" is only "continuous" if the child of God ceases not to "walk in the light." Try living like Christ to the very best of your ability without being honest from within. There's no way! Yes, you will certainly be a great benefit to others while here on this earth, but what possible good will it do your soul in eternity? None whatsoever! Christianity is a lifetime commitment! The church at Smyrna was told by Christ, "...be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2: 10).
The person who is completely honest with himself will acknowledge his own faults and shortcomings, be humble, treat his fellowman fairly and right, show concern for the soul of man, not want his way about everything, and honor all that Jehovah God and Jesus Christ say in the Bible, to be sure! As well, the one keeping honest on the inside will never want to be untrue to his own self, either. As the saying goes, "To thine own self be true." Show me the man who is honest with himself, and I will show you the man who will initially obey--and continue to obey--the entire Word of God. He will not turn out any other way, and you can just take that to the bank! A lack of self-honesty is another trick ploy of the Devil. Let us recognize it. Let us expose it. Let us avoid it.
by Philip North
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