Sr. Pastor Darrell G Vaughn

                                                                         Faithfulness – A Key Step to Happiness

Oct 7 2012:                                              “The Black Regiment!”

Sun AM Worship                                                   No Place for Hypocrisy                          

Text Acts 4:33 – 5:11  (King James Version)  

  “Father, I am your servant, willing and desiring to be used to bless your people.”

                                           The Fields are white and the laborers are few!
C.H. Spurgeon said, “If God does not save a man by truth he certainly will not save them by lies, and if the old gospel is not competent to work a revival, then we will do without the revival;”

 

Act 4:33  And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

Act 4:34  Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

Act 4:35  And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

Act 4:36  And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

Act 4:37  Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

Act 5:1  But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,

Act 5:2  And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

Act 5:3  But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

Act 5:4  Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

Act 5:5  And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.

Act 5:6  And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.

Act 5:7  And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.

Act 5:8  And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.

Act 5:9  Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.

Act 5:10  Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.

Act 5:11  And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

 

 Let’s pray. Father,  Open my eyes so I can see Your truth.  

Open my ears so I can hear Your voice. Open my mind so I can understand Your Word.
And open my heart so I may receive all that You want me to receive. AMEN

 

OPEN: 1776. That was the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. But did signing that declaration actually make America a free and independent nation? No. There was still a long, and costly conflict that needed to fought with THE superpower of the day.

• America only had rag tag army was poorly paid (if they were paid at all)
• They had few - if any – uniforms.
• Their weapons were often what they brought from home.
• If any cannons, they were those taken from the British.
• And the soldiers often had to survive without adequate food and shelter.

By contrast they faced one of the most feared armies in the world. British troops were the best trained and equipped of any army of the day. Other nations looked on to this conflict and doubted these colonial soldiers could ever succeed. Few doubted these “Freedom fighters” would prevail…

But they did!
And one of the reasons they prevailed was that they had a secret weapon.
A secret weapon so powerful that even King George feared it.

That secret weapon was a powerful brigade of soldiers that Britain referred to as the "Black Regiment." They were such a powerful force for the cause of freedom that, before the Revolution started, the British governor of Massachusetts made the statement that if this Black Regiment ever came out in force to support the Revolution England would lose.

So, what was this “Black Regiment”?
And what was it about them that made Britain fear it?
(Does Anybody Know Who They Were?)

The Black Regiment were the preachers throughout the Colonies
Their weapon was the Bible. And their battlefield was the pulpit.
They were called the “Black” regiment because they wore black robes when they preached. (Some sources refer to them as the “Black Robed Regiment”)

It was their moral leadership and influence that enabled America to become a free and independent nation.

These preachers preached what they preached, because they believed that the very essence of Christian religion was the idea that liberty is a sacred gift from God and that the united Colonies of America had been chosen by God to guard the sacred lamp of liberty.

Thus, on the first anniversary of the Battle of Lexington, a preacher named Jonas Clark declared: “From this day will be dated the liberty of the world.”

Resistance to England became a sacred duty - to a people who were on the whole, highly a religious people. And they were led – in their resistance to the tyranny of England – by their preachers.

• It was a preacher named Jonathan Mayhew who observed that England imposed heavy taxes on the Colonies without allowing them to be represented in the Parliament. And so he coined the phrase that became a battle cry for the Revolutionaries: “No taxation without representation”
• It was a Presbyterian minister named John Witherspoon who preached on the similarities between the bondage of Israel in Egypt with the bondage the colonies suffered under England. You might know Witherspoon’s name – he was one of those who signed the Declaration of Independence.
• Samuel Cooper was a Congregational minister who actively preached on the Revolution to an audience that often included John Adams, Samuel Adams, Joseph Warren and John Hancock.
• And then there was the preacher named Peter Muhlenberg. How many of you have ever seen the movie the “Patriot” with Mel Gibson? Muhlenberg was the preacher who served as the model for the preacher in that movie. One Sunday, he stood in his pulpit and preached from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 and he concluded his sermon with these words:
"The Bible tells us there is a time for all things, and there is a time to preach and a time to pray… and there is a time to fight, and that time has come now. Now is the time to fight!"
At that point Muhlenberg stripped off his preaching robes to reveal a military uniform pulled a musket out from behind the pulpit and began leading men in battle. He at Valley Forge, as well as the battles of Brandywine, Germantown and was instrumental in leading the Colonial army to victory at Yorktown – the battle which effectively ended the war.


These were just 4 of the hundreds of preachers across the colonies who made up Black Regiment. And they helped lead America to become a Free and powerful nation.

Before Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, it called the nation to fasting and prayer. And whenever Congress met – it opened each session praying to God to guide them in their decisions and to protect the colonies and their army.

The General they had chosen to lead that army – George Washington – believed that holiness and prayer were essential if the army was to ever prevail against Britain. And George Washington’s religion was not just a “personal/private thing”. Washington IMPOSED Christian morality on his soldiers.

ILLUS: In one of his “General Orders” Washington declared this
“The General most earnestly requires and expects a due observance of those articles of war established for the government of the army which forbid profane cursing, swearing and drunkenness; and in the like manner requires and expects of all officers and soldiers not engaged on actual duty, a punctual attendance on Divine Service to implore the blessings of Heaven upon the means used for our safety and defense.”

These were not suggestions by General Washington.
These were marching orders.
George Washington believed they could not be successful in war if they angered the God who he felt watched over this nation.

Most of the men who led our nation into war in 1776 were influenced by the “Black Regiment. The Black Regiment laid the foundation for our nation to become a free Country.
Even after the war this Black Regiment continued to lay the foundation for our Country so that it would become a Powerful and Great Nation that it is today
.

And what was that foundation that they laid?
It was a foundation of repentance and humility.
They preached that IF God’s people continually humbled themselves and sought God’s guidance - God would bless their nation and America would continue to be a great and influential country.

They knew well the passage that declared: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

And so not only did they preach that the colonies needed to rise up against England but they also preached that the Colonists needed to spend time in fasting and prayer… or else they would fail.

They believed that “… it (was) time for judgment to begin with the family of God…” 1 Peter 4:17
That was the message of the Black Regiment back in the beginning.
And that continues to be the message for America to that day.
The Church’s job is always to call people to repentance.
The Church’s job is always to declare that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” and that EVERYONE must humble themselves before God and seek His will.

God has always called His people to confront their leaders with the need for righteousness.
• John the Baptist confronted King Herod about his immoral marriage.
• Jesus confronted the Pharisees about their hypocrisy.
• Peter confronted the Sanhedrin about their role in crucifying Christ.

Jesus said we need to be light and salt in a dark and foul tasting world.
The church has been called to stand for God’s Holiness and righteousness in an unholy and unrighteous world.

To Live as Children of light.
Why?

1st – because the world isn’t going to listen to hypocrites.
The world knows what Jesus preached.
The world understands what the church should stand for.
But why would they listen to us if our lives aren’t any different than theirs?
Why would they listen to us if we laugh at the same dirty jokes they do?
… if we watch the same immoral TV shows and movies they do?
… if we’re just as greedy and selfish and rude as they are?
… if on our Facebook, we insult others or talk about things good Christians shouldn’t.
Why should they listen to us????
If your life/ mine – is no different than theirs - why should they change?
If our lives are no different, we may be paving the way for their eternity in hell.

So, first we need to apply Holiness to our own lives because the world doesn’t listen to hypocrites
AND 2nd – We need to be dedicated to holiness and righteousness because that may be the only thing that saves our nation from God’s judgment.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately… but our nation has descended into a moral quagmire.
• You can’t pray in School
• You can’t bring a Bible to school. (though you can take into the prisons?)
• Christians have lost their jobs because they talk to others about Christ, or let it be known they don’t approve of certain lifestyles.
• The American Psychiatric Society recently had a conference in Baltimore where many of the psychiatrists present said pedophilia was normal.


It’s almost as if those in charge in America have decided to go out of their way to bring God’s judgment down on our nation.

 

The Bible tells of us of nations who were destroyed for doing far less than this!
What could be done to hold back God’s wrath?
What could stay the hand of God’s judgment on our nation?

The Bible tells us WE can. By dedicating ourselves to personally being holy and righteous before God.

“BUT” -starts chapter 5. The “buts” in the Bible are hinges on which great doors swing. They always mark a decisive change in the story. The incident of chapter 5 begins in chapter 4. The story of Ananias and Sapphira is a story that shows great contrast between the selflessness of Barnabas (chapter 4) and the selfishness of this man and his wife (chapter 5).
Barnabas had some property, and he sold it and gave the money to the apostles for them to distribute as they saw fit. No doubt Ananias and Sapphira wanted to bask in some of the glow that surrounded Barnabas.
Their deaths are the first recorded deaths within the church.

A 12-year-old boy was waiting for his first orthodontist appointment and was a bit nervous. Apparently he wanted to impress the dentist. On the patient questionnaire, in the space marked “Hobbies,” he had written, “Swimming and flossing.” That’s a humorous example of how we’re all prone to hypocrisy.
However, spiritual hypocrisy is not humorous; it’s a dangerous and deadly sin. The hypocrisy of professing Christians has served as an excuse for many to disregard the claims of Christ, saying, “The church is full of hypocrites.”
The story of Ananias and Sapphira warns us of the danger of the sin of hypocrisy. It was literally deadly for this couple. Someone has said that if God dealt with all hypocrites in the church as He dealt with this couple, our churches would become morgues!
Half of the misery in the world comes from trying to look, instead of trying to be, what one is not.
"Hypocrite" comes from a word which means "to act a part as on a stage." The hypocrite is a playactor.
Hypocrisy is deliberate deception, trying to make
people think we are more spiritual than we really are.
“A hypocrite is a person who is not himself on Sunday.”
Hypocrisy is the hiding of the things you do, not
because you were not supposed to do them, but because you would be ashamed to have them known where you are known. Now the doing of them is foul, but the hiding of them, in order to appear better than you are, is fouler still.
The sin of Ananias and Sapphira, putting on a lovely "front" in order to conceal the sin in their lives; sin that ultimately cost them their lives.
We are all prone to the deadly sin of hypocrisy.
We need to be clear on the exact nature of the sin of
Ananias and Sapphira. Their sin was not that they had sold their property and had given only a part to the church. In fact, Peter makes plain (5:4) that it would not have been a sin for them to have sold their property and not given anything to the church. Their sin was that was that they conspired together to deceive the apostles and the church into thinking that they were giving the entire amount, when in fact they kept back a portion for themselves. In other words, they were trying to impress everyone with a higher level of spirituality and commitment than they really had.
Have you ever done that? We’ve all been guilty of trying to impress others with our commitment and devotion to Christ, even though we know in our heart that we are exaggerating.
A pastor had been preaching on the importance of daily Bible reading. He and his wife were invited over to a parishioner’s home for dinner. His wife saw a note on the kitchen calendar: “Pastor/Mrs. for dinner—Dust all Bibles.”
Hypocrisy- let us examine it.

I. The seriousness of hypocrisy
Ananias is not given a chance to repent, even though his sin seems not all that serious. His wife is not even told of her husband’s death and of what will happen to her if she lies. The instant that she agrees with her husband’s lie, she is struck dead.
In this age of tolerance, we might think, “What’s the big deal?” We need to view this sin from God’s holy perspective, not from our world’s view.


Jesus always hit hypocrisy hard.
In Matthew 23, He pronounced many woes on the scribes and Pharisees, whom He repeatedly called hypocrites. He warned His disciples, “Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1).
Like leaven, hypocrisy starts small and unnoticed. It doesn’t seem to be a big deal. But if it is not quickly checked, it spreads. It deceives the person into thinking that things are right between him and God, when in reality, things are very wrong.
THE HYPOCRITE GIVE HIS TONGUE TO VIRTUE, BUT HIS HEART IS GIVEN TO VICE.

Why did God dealt with Ananias and Sapphira so severely when He does not do so with the hypocrites in the church today? Probably, it was because the church was in its infancy, and He needed to set before us a sober lesson of the seriousness of this sin among God’s people.
He wanted us to know that the church should live in the holy fear of God and especially should be on guard against this serious sin, hypocrisy. It was one of those occasions when God makes an example out of a case in order to fully reveal what He thinks of a matter. It was thus when he struck done Sodom and Gomorrah for their sins. HOWEVER, FROM TIME TO TIME HE MAKES A SUMMARY EXAMPLE TO REMIND US THAT HE IS HOLY.


Today one of the most common complaints against the church is that we are full of hypocrites.
The single most cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips but walk out of the church doors and deny Him with their life.


One skeptic, who’d apparently seen hypocritical Christian behavior wrote, “A Christian is a man who feels sorry on a Sunday for what he did on Saturday and is going to do on Monday.”

II. The subjects of hypocrisy
This couple that fell into this sin were professing Christians, “members” of the church in Jerusalem. This means that we’re all in danger of falling into this subtle sin.
We don’t want other Christians or those outside the church to think that we have problems. That wouldn’t be a good testimony, would it? So we put on our spiritual mask when we’re around others, even though we know, and our family knows that we do not live as we profess to live.

 

When a prominent Christian is shown to be a hypocrite, the world heaves a sigh of relief, thinking, “Christians are really no different than anyone else. If they’re phonies, then Christianity must not be true.”

Notice that this sin affects both men and women. Some sins may be more prevalent in men, while other sins are more prevalent with women. But both sexes are vulnerable to hypocrisy.
Ananias and Sapphira had agreed together to this act of deception (5:9). Whether you are male or female, you need to guard yourself against hypocrisy.

Someone has written, “I met the strangest man and woman the other day. They said they believe the Bible but never read it.

They said they think well of the church of which they are a member, but they never attend it. They said a man should be honest with God in money matters, but they never tithe. They said the younger generation needs the Lord, but they never show up for visitation. They said the church needs dedicated Christians, but they were not one. They ever said the church should do more ministering to people, but they never lift a hand to help. They are critical of how the church is run, but they never participate. They said that prayer will change things, but they never comes to prayer meeting. They were a strange man and woman indeed!”

IV. The substructure of hypocrisy
What does hypocrisy rest on?
A. It’s arises from pride.
No doubt the church was praising God for the generous love offering that Barnabas has brought, and Satan whispered to them, “You can have some of the glory as well. You can make the others think your are as spiritual as Barnabas.”


Pride opens the door to every other sin for once we are more concerned with our reputation than we are with our character, there is no end to things we will do to make ourselves look good before others.
Hypocrisy is all about us.
Motive is everything in the sin of hypocrisy. If Ananias and Sapphira had sold their land and had told the apostles, "We feel led to give half to the church," it would not have been a problem.
Their sin was the evil intent of their hearts, to make others think that they were more spiritual than they really were. They were motivated by pride not a love of God and others. God, who always knows the motives of our hearts, judged them on the spot.
Hypocrisy is always motivated by pride. We want to impress others, to make them think that we are something that we know in our hearts we are not.
Kids, by the way, have a built-in antenna to detect hypocrisy in their parents. Nothing turns kids away from the faith as quickly as hypocritical parents. If they hear you put on your spiritual voice around church people, but you verbally abuse them at home, they can see right through you. They will not be drawn to follow the God you profess to follow. That’s why it is crucial for parents to acknowledge their wrongs and ask forgiveness of their children when they sin against them.


It’s just as the old country preacher warned, "Be who you is, ‘cause if you ain’t who you is, you is who you ain’t."
B. It advances with lies.


I read a story about an answer a little boy gave to his mother when she asked, "What is a lie, honey?" He said, "Mother, a lie is an abomination to the Lord, but a very present help in time of need." Lies are what hypocrisy is built upon.
Sin has many tools, but a lie is the handle which fits them all.
Sin thrives in the soil of deceit and lies, but godliness only grows in the soil of the truth. Wherever you find sin, you will find lies and deceit. Wherever you find salvation, you will find the truth. There is no place in Christianity for deception.

IV. The short-sightedness of hypocrisy
Hypocrisy is short-sighted


A. Hypocrisy focuses on what people think, rather than what God knows.
Ananias and Sapphira wanted to look good in front of the apostles and the rest of the church. Barnabas had just given the total amount