We have so many layers. Like peeling an onion, someone has said. We can be piously sweet, smiling and gregarious. We can be connivingly sneaky, self-serving and mean. We can be ever-so-clean; and then, disgustingly filthy. In our desire to be respected and accepted, we publicly show our better side. Masters of disguise we truly are.
Years ago, kids once looked at advertisements like the one below in their comic books and begged their parents to invest in a pair of incredible x-ray glasses. Kids imagined being able to see right through people.
Perhaps you read about Corey Hughes’ escape in Northern California. He was serving time on a weapons charge. The 27 year-old inmate was with a prison work-crew near Interstate 5 in Stockton, CA, when he disappeared. The convict was on the run, but most knew it would only be a matter of time until someone noticed him and turned him in to the police. The facial tattoo was far too easy to spot.
Acting on tips, a police dog was sent into a home and Corey Hughes was apprehended and returned to custody. (1)
Did he really think he would be able to evade the police for long? If he thought he was a master of disguise, he thought wrong. There were just some things about him that gave his identity away.
We might smile at how obvious his markings would be to the public and to the police and wonder how he ever thought he’d be able to truly escape. But on another level, we are no different. We think we have ourselves fully disguised and that somehow God doesn’t see who we really are.
The reality is – God sees us with a clearer vision than we can see ourselves. People try to hide from God – but they have never once evaded His holy, and all-seeing eyes. Without the aid of tracking dogs to sniff us out, He knows every dark alley we have ever been down with our feet or traversed in our minds.
The Pharisees approached Jesus wearing their colourful and expensive robes of piety and stood before Him confident in their religion. Without the aid of x-ray glasses, Jesus saw totally inside them. He said to them:
I know you. I know you do not have the love of God in your hearts. John 5:41
On another occasion, Jesus was attending a religious festival in Jerusalem. Outwardly, it looked like the people were accepting Him and His teachings. But John records that Jesus did not entrust Himself to the people because “He knew what was in each person.” John 2:25 More than once we read in the four Gospels that Jesus even “knew what they were thinking,” or that He “knew their thoughts.” Luke 11:17
God knows our hearts so well, that He doesn’t just know what we have already done, He also knows what we have the potential of yet doing. No one has ever done every dark thing their heart had and has the potential of doing.
The brokenness and helplessness and sinfulness of the human heart is more obvious to God than the face of a man wearing a skeleton-tattoo is obvious to us.
So, why try to run and hide from God? Why not turn ourselves in? The Bible calls it ‘repentance’. Simply, it means agreeing with God about who I really am – a sinner. The camouflage, the subterfuge, the veneer, the layers and the staging are all swept away, and I stand alone before God with nothing to offer Him – nothing whatsoever. Just my desperate lostness. My brokenness. My sin. That’s repentance.
Jesus issued a wake-up call to people who were assuming others had tragically died because of some sins they had committed – as if, they themselves would never stoop to similar offenses. He said to them:
Unless you repent, you too will all perish. Luke 13:3
The Apostle Paul said he had one spiritual message for every person he preached to – regardless of their religious background:
I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus. Act 20:21
When you understand clearly you have nothing to offer God as a sinner, you will also understand, unless He saves you, unless He has mercy upon you, unless He forgives you – you will perish forever. At that point in your understanding, you will reach out and embrace the amazing truth in the Bible paragraph below:
For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8
A prison-manager once asked incarcerated Christians this question: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They simply responded with this: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Acts 16:30-31
Would you like to safely turn yourself in to God just now? There is good news: He will not arrest you and consign you to eternal punishment. He will completely forgive you and embrace you and welcome you into His family.