The Illusion of a Perfect Reputation

They had an affair. They made a choice to abandon their vows made to someone else and to God, and to live a secret life outside of their marriage. She was caught in a web of sin and lies she didn’t want to be in and felt a deep level of conviction. Wanting to confess and get out of it, the pull of his claim to love her more than any other ever could, and the lie she believed about this being “God’s will”, was too strong. 

He was a youth pastor and highly influential in the lives of many teenagers, and he used that fact to keep her quiet about their indiscretions. He insisted that his reputation would be ruined, his witness would be tarnished, and the teenagers he’d led over the years might turn away from God because of his actions. 

As I think about this illustration, I am reminded of the dangerous web of lies that Satan can spin, directing a person’s inner dialogue to cover up the sin rather than confess and expose it, and even making it something that sounds spiritual. 

It’s all lies. He is the father of lies and is not capable of speaking the truth.

Reputation is a powerful thing and losing one’s good reputation can really hurt other people. Right? But here is where we make the biggest mistake – it’s not really our reputation being ruined that hurts other people (and ourselves). It’s the sin itself. And when we cover up our sin to protect our reputation, we elevate ourselves to the level of God and believe that we have the power to influence others with a false pretense of spirituality. What we are actually doing is directing others AWAY from God and towards us.

James 5:16 tells us to “confess our sins to one another and pray for one another, that we may be healed.” Nowhere in scripture does it instruct us to cover up a life of sin, pretending to be perfect in an effort to protect our reputation and witness. 

We are flawed, by human nature, simply because we exist. If we truly follow Jesus, we will do everything possible to lay down our life of sin daily and live only in the light of grace. But we still fail. 

There are two ways we can approach our fallen nature:

  1. Turn the spotlight on Jesus. Being authentic about our sin nature and living a life of continuing to turn back to Jesus points people to Him, and shines the light on what He has done for us – how good He is. This approach daily leads us away from our sin nature and continually back to Him.
  1. Turn the spotlight on us. Covering up our sin nature and continuing to live that life while protecting our reputation shines a light on how good we supposedly are. This approach leads us further into sin, further into the web of lies, and further away from Christ. 

Which way do you approach your fallen nature? 

It is so very difficult to confess sin, but James tells us it is the only way towards healing. Confessing and praying for one another is the key to finding freedom from the sin that binds us. 

Sometimes, we don’t want to change, and would rather pretend we are following Jesus so that we can keep doing what we are doing. If that is the case, pray today that God gives you the authentic desire to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him. Once that desire is in place and you choose to follow Him, make the decision to live an authentic life. Be honest about the pull of your flesh, and your testimony will then be about the grace and mercy of a Father who laid down His life so that our sins be covered. Let Him do the covering up of our sin, and then you will find yourself in a position to be a true witness of the power of Jesus.

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