Glittering Dross and Comets

Reading the third chapter of Thomas Watson’s book, The Godly Man’s Picture, was a little hard to read. Not because of the Old  English in which it was written, but because of its subject.

The chapter, “A Reproof to Such as are Only Pretenders to Godliness,” was written as a

 ” … sharp rebuke to such as are ‘glittering dross’ Christians, who only make a show of godliness …. “

Yes, the subject of the chapter is basically Pharisaism. Jesus spoke often of those who prayed aloud in order to be heard, made a show of giving their offerings, and moped around so that people would know that they were fasting.

Watson points out that Jesus calls such pretenders of godliness “white sepulchres.” (Matthew 23:27) On the “outside they appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” Watson describes the “beauty” of these as being “all paint!”

The question is then asked, “But why do persons content themselves with a show of godliness?” when Christ condemns those for their pretense? Watson’s answer is “to keep up their fame” among men.  He goes on to say,

“Men are ambitious for credit, and wish to gain repute in the world, therefore they will dress themselves in garb and mode of religion so that others may write them down for saints. But alas, … What good will it do a man when he is in hell that others think that he has gone to heaven. Oh, beware of this! Counterfeit piety is a double iniquity.”

Watson then writes a six point warning about the danger and results of the show and pretense of godliness.

I. To have only a show of godliness is a God-enraging sin.

II. To make only a show of godliness is self-delusion.

III. To have only a name, and make a show of godliness, is odious to God and man.

IV. To be only comets and make a show piety is a vain thing.

V. To have only a pretense of godliness will yield no comfort at death.

VI. You who have nothing but a specious pretext and mask of piety expose yourself to Satan’s scorn.

I am encouraged to “take heed of this kind of pageantry or devout stage play,” knowing that “there are the seeds of this sin in the best” of us. This warning  compels me to ask the Holy Spirit to search my heart and reveal any wicked, ungodly, self-deluding ways that may be within me so that I might be right with Him in all things and a positive witness for my Lord among men.

Thomas Watson concludes this chapter with this exhortation.

“Christian, if you mourn for hypocrisy, yet find this sin so potent that you cannot get the mastery of it, go to Christ. Beg of Him that he would exercise his kingly office in your soul, that he would subdue this sin, and put it under the yoke. Beg of Christ to exercise his spiritual surgery upon you. Desire him to lance your heart and cut out the rotten flesh, and that he would apply the medicine of his blood to heal you of your hypocrisy.”

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