How can I preach the gospel without being a hypocrite?
It can be challenging to feel that even when we want to preach the gospel, we are not living it perfectly and therefore have no credibility to preach it to others. Even the Apostle Paul struggled with similar feelings. In his letter to the Christians in Rome he wrote,
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”
Despite Paul’s desire to do what was right, his sinful flesh caused him to behave in ways he hated. But that did not stop him from serving. In the same letter he said this. “For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:22-25).
Every sincere Christian must first make the distinction Paul made, that he was infected with sin. He was waging a battle between his mind – which delighted in God – and his sinful flesh. We must each fight the same battle he fought. Some people believe that before God will accept them they must clean up their lives and get rid of every weakness and sin. It does not work that way. Serving God begins with a recognition of our sinful natures. The next step is deciding to enter the battle against our flesh and learning what God’s will is for us. Many give up trying to serve Him when they fall into sin. That is a mistake because God knows us and has provided what we need to change.
Here is a suggestion, use the principles of God to build up your character, little by little. Make that your focus and don’t worry about witnessing to others about Christ. Ask the Lord to help you and focus on what the scriptures teach about becoming Christlike. As you make progress, you will see little changes in your behavior and the way you treat others. In time, your friends and those you associate with should see the changes and maybe even ask what’s going on with you. Tell them what you have been working on and why. The “why” should be because you are coming to appreciate the sacrifice others have made for you in your life. And the most important one is the sacrifice Jesus made. Realizing the love that prompted his sacrifice has motivated you to change and be more like him.
If you get to that point, your witness will be your life. If anyone is interested about what you have to say, you can then share the gospel with them in a more personal way than preaching on a street corner.
It has been said there are five Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John…and YOU! And most people will never read the first four. Our lives can be that beautiful witness you seek to share.
As you study the wonderful hope-filled message of what God has in store for the future of mankind, it will touch your own heart deeply and make it easier to share the good news.
To learn more about how to battle our sinful ways and do what is right, listen to our five part series, “Do I Walk in the Spirit or in the Lusts of My Human Nature?”