I have not had a lot of people say to me “Church is full of hypocrites.” It has happened, but it doesn’t happen a lot. These days I generally agree with them, but add there is always room for one more. But the truth is churches are full of a lot of different people, who are there for a lot of different reasons. There are genuine believers, there are people who are playing at religion, there are people who feel compelled to be religious because of tradition, and there are people who are using religion as a tool to get something.
The folks who are in church for any other reason than genuine faith have a knowledge about God, some more accurate than others, but they generally have something flawed in their thinking about God. These folks have not crossed a line from knowledge about God to a knowledge of God which is experiential and real. They believe some things about God, but do not yet believe in God, in a biblical sense. The biblical sense of believing in God involves a deeply held trust in God, and not just a knowledge about God.
J. Warner Wallace tells a story about a police officer he knows who was involved in an officer shooting, which he had to investigate to determine what happened and whether or not the officer did what was right. This officer did a routine traffic stop because the driver was swerving all over the road, so he pulled him over to determine whether he was drunk or had other reasons for his erratic behavior. The man was drunk, but he was also a parolee who was carrying a handgun – something the officer did not know as yet. As he approached the car he asked the man to step out of the car, but feeling uneasy about the situation, he asked the man to turn around so he could pat him down to determine if he had anything on him. The man turned around, but then pulled his gun and turned again toward the officer and pointed his gun at the officer’s chest. In that split-second, the officer, thought about the vest he was wearing and determined he could take the first shot, it would hurt, but he would not die, and then he could fire back and end the threat.
In that split-second, the officer went from believing something about his vest, to believing in his vest in order to take the shot. Here is where that difference is when I speak of believing in God in a biblical sense. You leave off believing something about God, and move to believing in God in a way where you entrust your life into His hands and determine to live for Him rather than for yourself.
2 Timothy 1:12 “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.”
This is exactly what Paul had done and why he lived like he did. He had entrusted his soul to God, he had entrusted his whole life to Him who is able to keep it. I wonder, have you crossed that line?