Living the Double Life

How can one who appeared to follow God, to be a sincere follower of truth, to know and love God, and even lead others in worship of God . . . how can that one be leading a double life?

How can that happen?

The same way it happens with all of us.

Our pride and ingratitude are dangerous passions within. When we feed them, our selfishness grows. As our selfishness grows, we make autonomous decisions as though we are “god.” We dethrone the true and living God and step into that position for ourselves.

We exchange our identities as image bearers of God in order to grab for the identity of deity! 

Isn’t that how the first sin occurred?

[box]The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:4–6)[/box]

What was Eve created to be?

You, me, every individual, is created to “image” God. We have the privileged position of “image bearers of God.”

[box]Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26–27)[/box]

As image bearers of God, we have the capacity to relate to God, to fellowship with Him, to experience a deep and personal relationship with Him. As we experience God’s fellowship, we have the opportunity to glorify Him. But the serpent held out an invitation to Eve that was an “identity exchange.” No longer would she have the limitation of “image bearer” of God, no—she could become her own god.

Pastor Timothy Keller has defined sin as “the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking . . . to get an identity apart from him.”1

The enemy is all about tempting us to exchange God’s good plan with something he presents as “better.” The book of Romans describes this type of exchange and the graphic progression that occurs:

Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

[box]Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator . . . (Romans 1:22–25)[/box]

The exchange always involves a heart issue: love and worship.

Who will we love, serve, and worship?

Ourselves or our Creator?

What will our identity be?

God’s image bearers or reinventing ourselves through “self-deification?”

No one wants to appear “selfish” or in love with themselves, at least most people know that’s not appealing. We cover up our self-love with the appearance of humility, or goodness, or kindness, but self-love can’t remain completely hidden. It will eventually crop up through selfish acts no matter how much we try to cover it up.

A double life eventually crumbles and the false identity can’t hold up long under close scrutiny.

What is the answer to breaking out of the double life and living a single, true and sincere life?

Lay down the false identity and step back into your true identity—image bearer of God. Get to know and appreciate your Creator. Look long and hard at His beautiful character and fall in love with Him. As you get to know Him more and more, your love for yourself will lessen and your love for Him will increase.

Loving God, worshipping Him alone, is the deepest need of your heart. Loving God is the only hope for victory over “self” addiction.

Jesus asked Peter the most important question ever uttered and one that He asks us as well: “Do you love me?”

Where is your heart today?

Who do you love most? 

1 Timothy Keller, The Reason for God (Riverhead Books, 2008), p. 168.


  • Justin

    True words of wisdom here! Sin creeps into our lives when we “dethrone” Jesus, and put ourselves in the place where only He belongs.

    This reminds me of a great sermon by John Piper from the book of Romans chapter 8, verses 10-17 entitled “Make War”. If you have not ever seen it I would highly recommend that you take a look at it. He is declaring all out war against sin and self, and asking that we join him. Here is the link:

    “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit you are not under the law.”
    (Galatians 5:16-18)

    “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12)

    Fervently praying for the young man and his family today. Praying for a renewing of his mind and heart, and a declaration of all out war on sin in his life!

    What a Savior!


  • Vivian Etherington

    Wonderful post! One thing I am praying for this young man is that his heart will be drawn to the Scripture even while he is in the process of repentance. I remember well when I began having an insatiable desire for the Word during the process of God breaking up the fallow ground in my heart! I still have that desire; His Word is my lifeline! Isaiah 55 is a beautiful passage that God used in breaking me; encourage him to read it! Verse 7 says, “let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” I love that part of ABUNDANTLY pardon–very sweet words to meditate upon.
    Continuing to pray much!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Thank you so much, Justin ~

    I look forward to watching the Piper message and I’ve passed your comment on to others. Your prayers mean so much and the comments you are sharing have been very helpful and encouraging.

    Yes, what a Savior!