An often mentioned quote that is attributed to President Abraham Lincoln is, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”. Whether President Lincoln actually said this is debated among some. However, the truth of the statement stands firm. Yet, we would like to add another phrase to that statement. We would add, “And you cannot fool God any of the time!”
It is true that one may present themselves as being a faithful child of God in such a manner that everyone believes that they are, while in actuality, they do not even believe in God. But, there is no doubt that though all other people think that person to be righteous and holy, God is not fooled. He knows their true state. When Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit in the garden and hid themselves, God asked, “Where art thou?” (Gen. 3:8-9). God did not ask that question because He did not know where they were, He asked it so that they might realize where they had gone spiritually. When Achan took the forbidden spoil of the fall of Jericho and hid it in the ground in his tent, all of the Israelites may have been in the dark about his sin, but God knew and brought it to light (Josh. 7). David, the man after God’s own heart, took Bathsheba, a woman already married to Uriah, the Hittite, and then had Uriah deliberately killed in battle; few knew of his sins. But God knew and sent Nathan the prophet to let David know that his sins were known to God (II Samuel 11). Jonah hid himself in a ship bound for Tarshish because he did not want to do what God had commanded, but he could not hide from God. God knew where he was and prepared the great fish to swallow him and later to spew him out upon dry land (Jonah 1-2). When the Pharisees took counsel how they might entangle Jesus (Matt. 22:15), “Jesus perceived their wickedness” (Matt. 22:18). He knew! Just a chapter later he told them, “…for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matt. 23:27-28).
There are no secrets that can be kept from God. The Hebrew writer stated, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). King Solomon concluded the book of Ecclesiastes with the words, “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Ecc. 12:14). This being the case, when we are not truly sincere in our confession of Christ, our worship to God, our obedience to God’s commands and our service in His kingdom, God knows the truth. Though sincerity by itself is insufficient, words and actions without sincerity are insufficient as well. While persecuting the church, Paul was doing so sincerely thinking he was doing right (Acts 23:1). On the other hand, as Joshua stated, “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in truth” (Josh. 24:14). Paul pointed out that it was at the point that one obeys “from the heart” the gospel of Christ that they are freed from sin (Rom. 6:18). Mere man cannot see the heart as God can and thus may be fooled about our spiritual condition. However, as the Lord told Samuel, “for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (I Sam. 16:7). For sure, no secrets are hidden from God Almighty!
Many are the applications that we might make concerning this great truth, but we will just illustrate with a few common examples. Many people who claim Christ as their Savior practice some form of Christianity only at certain holidays such as Christmas or Easter. Others are much more involved than that, but are “Christians” on only one day of the week, Sunday. Monday through Saturday they serve self and the lust of the flesh and then put up a good front on those specific days. Often even we can see the hypocrisy, rest assured that God can see it in each and every person that puts on such a show. Often people put on “Christianity” as if it is a set of special clothing, putting it on for just a brief time and then hanging it back in the closet until the next scheduled performance. God knows how real our religion is! You can’t pull the wool over God’s eyes. He sits in heaven, looking down and sees it all (Psalm 14:2). Husbands and wives cheat on their spouses, keeping it well hidden lest they have to face the music, but just as God knew of David’s night with Bathsheba, God knows. Drugs and alcohol flow among many who keep it well hidden from employers, friends and often even close family, but they have not kept it hidden from God. He knows!
As one can see, the list of such actions can be expanded into great length, but these should be enough to get the idea across. You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, and even if you could fool all of the people all of the time, you can’t fool God any of the time!
Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ and a long-time columnist for The Sampson Independent. Send any questions or comments to: [email protected]