Our culture depends on deception. Our economy goes round as advertisers put the best face on their products, and it only takes $19.95 plus shipping and handling for us to realize that advertisers are good at what they do. In a similar way, much religious life goes round as church-goers stick on their best face for Sunday morning, and it only takes a little scratch before the sniff doesn’t smell so good.
Confession and deception occupy different sides of the field, and only one can side can advance the ball. In other words, it’s possible to gain ground in two directions but not at the same time. A man can mature in his integrity or in duplicity, in righteousness or in sin. He can become more practiced at living a whole life, the same inside and out, everywhere he goes. Or he can become better practiced at showing up as whoever he wants wherever he goes, a crafty actor putting on different faces.
Sinners who mature don’t sin less, they learn how to cover it better, or at least they think it’s covered better. We appreciate kids because they can’t help but speak candidly. Grown-ups are the ones who figured out the supposed benefits of distorting ugly words once they’ve left the heart on their way out the mouth. As we get older, it isn’t that we stop thinking foolish or sinful things. In many cases, we think worse things, but we’re more “wise” than to make it easy for others to see that we’re really fools.
Religious duplicity ruins the multi-faced and spoils everyone on whom it spills. Deceiving ourselves and others is easy, and is the easy way to destruction. We should do the harder work of confessing sin as sin in our hearts, turning toward light and walking in the truth, the only path to life.