Luke 12:1 Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.
The Pharisees found it difficult to live up to their religion, so they chose hypocrisy instead. They appeared devoted to God, but were really devoted to themselves. This is not uncommon even among Christians.
Most people have a public self, which is open for everyone to see. We also have a personal self, which only our friends and family see. We also have a private self, which we alone see. The greater the distinction between these three selves, the greater our sin of hypocrisy.
But it’s also hard to be a hypocrite, so many give it up. When our lifestyle does not fit our beliefs, we become uncomfortable; then we change our lifestyle, or our beliefs. Most people do not change their beliefs because of new information, but because God is hard to live for. Rather than change their lifestyle to fit their beliefs, they change their beliefs to fit their lifestyle. They trade hypocrisy for apostasy.
Luke 12:2 There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.
Few things are more precious to us than privacy, but here we learn that privacy is an illusion. Everything we have ever done will become public information. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs (Luke 12:3), said Jesus.
This is so unnerving that some have argued from Scripture that it only applies to unbelievers, not to Christians. [I] am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more (Isaiah 43:25). I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34). [A]s far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12). [Y]ou will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).
All these texts are true, of course, and assure us of complete forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ. Never again for all eternity will our sins be held against us. Christ has paid the price for them, and they are forgiven in full. But does that mean they will not be revealed on Judgment Day? There are a few other texts to consider.
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:13). He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart (1 Corinthians 4:5). This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ (Romans 2:16).
Furthermore, the Bible reveals some of the most embarrassing acts of God’s holy people. These include Noah’s drunkenness, Lot’s incest, and David’s adultery. If God revealed the worst episodes of his people in the Bible, why wouldn’t he make all things public in the age to come—even if we are forgiven?
Now here is a radical thought: Sin will be no shame, but honor (Julian of Norwich). If God reveals our sins to the world, they will appear as sins that are forgiven to the glory of God. All of heaven will rejoice at the mercy of God who pardons notorious sinners. And we will rejoice in the blood of Jesus Christ that purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Not one of our sins will ever be held against us, or even embarrass us, but will bring glory and honor to God for his amazing grace. Then we will praise the Lord forever, not only for his pardon, but for changing our natures so that we will never sin again.
Luke 12:4 I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more.
Martyrdom is easy when it happens quickly, and without much pain. It is not death that believers fear so much as dying miserably. That is why Satan has developed horrifying methods of martyrdom, such as being slowly cooked, or eaten to death by rats. But even through torture, many have found the courage to die bravely.
In the sixteen hundreds, French Protestants sang Psalms on their way to be burned at the stake. And as they were being burned, they often preached so bravely that it annoyed their persecutors. Therefore, it became the practice to cut out their tongues before they were set on fire. Still, they refused to fear those who killed the body, and after that could do no more.
Luke 12:5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
Popular views of God minimize his severity, but the God of the Bible kills people and sends them to hell. We ought to obey God out of love, but when our love is weak, we ought to obey him out of fear.
Some believers who were living under atheistic communism, were forced to march naked onto a frozen lake, where they would freeze to death. But a warm bath was prepared on shore for any who would turn away from Christ. Most died for their faith, but one of them walked to shore, and traded his faith for a bath. Then he was put to death. Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.
Luke 12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.
It is easy to believe that God cares for us when things are going well; but here we are assured that God cares for us even when things go badly. If God watches over sparrows, how much more does he watch over us?
I was at a friend’s home when a bird flew into a large window and broke its neck. We went outside to investigate, and beneath the window were several other birds that had died the same way. And how many birds have fallen prey to their natural enemies?
Jesus was not talking about sparrows chirping nicely in a tree, but about those that had been captured, and were being sold for lunch. They were so common that you could buy two for a penny (Matthew 10:29). And for two pennies you could get an extra one free. But even the free sparrow was not forgotten by God. Do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows (Luke 12:7).
Reflection and Review
Why is it hard to be a hypocrite?
Why does God reveal the sins of his people?
How does Jesus give us courage to live and die for him?