Vol.XIX No.VII Pg.3
September 1982

Cosmetic Religion

Dan S. Shipley

In the seven "woes" pronounced by Jesus in Matt. 23 are to be found the most severe and scathing rebukes recorded in the entire Bible. In His condemnation of these hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, Jesus likens them unto whited sepulchers, "...which outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." Then He continues, "Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but inwardly ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" (V.27, 28).

Because men are impressed and influenced by outward appearances (1 Sam. 16:7), and because we all like the approval of others, we must be very careful not to play the role of the hypocrite. Our righteousness must be more than appearance, it must be a way of life. We must develop a consistency of character that is not altered by circumstance or companions. We must avoid the mistake of these scribes and Pharisees and not allow ours to become a cosmetic religion—the kind that is seasonal and superficial and dependent on appearances. And the place to begin cultivating Christ-like character is in the heart and in the home.

Let's face it! What a person is at home is what he is! Nowhere is true character more obvious—no pretense, no false airs here. And nowhere is a demonstration of spiritual character more needed! Every wife needs the kind of husband who will heed God's admonition to love her "as Christ also loved the church" (Eph. 5:25); who will have regard for her needs, her interests and her feelings. Many neglected and mistreated wives wish their husbands were at home what they appear to be in public.

Likewise, men have few earthly blessings to enrich their lives more than a godly wife; one who manifests respect and subjection "as unto the Lord" (Eph. 5:24,33). Her chaste behavior, shamefastness, sobriety; her meek and quiet spirit and other such qualities reflect an inward adornment highly valued by the Lord (1 Pet. 3; 1 Tim. 2)—and by the discerning husband! How regrettable that some women have neglected such adornment in favor of the outward. Regardless of what wives seem to be in public, when they cease to be "keepers at home," they cease to please the Lord (Titus 2:5). When women become indifferent to God given responsibilities to husband and home, their religion merely becomes a part of their outward adornment—and the entire family suffers for it.

Consequently, children are hurt immeasurably by parents who practice cosmetic religion. Even little ones recognize the disparity between home and "church-building" conduct—and, in later years will not likely forget it. Parents would do well to begin every day with a vivid and fresh recollection that God wants them to rear their children for heaven! None helps or hinders their eternal welfare more than mother and daddy. But mark it well! Bringing up a child "in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" is impossible!—for parents who do not live for the Lord. We must put away religious hypocrisy! Let us make a start—from the heart—beginning at home—today.