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.