(Read Part 1 here.)
No matter what attire you wear to church—t-shirts, jeans, dresses, or neckties—veils are always in style. In fact, we can wear them so long that we don’t know where the hypocrisy ends and the authenticity begins. Our pretense is justified and perpetuated. Here are some of the most common veils I’ve seen.
The Veil of Pride
“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
It’s easy to point out the veils others are wearing while failing to look in the mirror ourselves. We tend to rationalize our own sin while judging the very same issue in someone else.
They are prejudiced; I have convictions.
They are conceited; I have self-respect.
They are materialistic; I am just trying to live the American dream.
They lose their temper; I have righteous indignation.
In six simple words, St. Jerome nailed the problem of pride: “Beware of the pride of humility.”
The Veil of Self-Righteousness
This attitude elevates one’s preferences and takes pride in outward deeds, regardless of the heart’s attitude. At the core, it is smug and patronizing. This was the sin of the Pharisees. Jesus was clear on what He thought about their religious veils. “You are of your father the devil…you are white washed tombs.”
Self-righteousness can show up in a variety of ways in every hallway of your church.
– Nagging, gossiping, tearing others down; thinking God plays favorites and you’re one of them
– Comparison games (I may have a problem, but it’s not as bad as…)
– Being overly sensitive, easily hurt and offended
– Pointing fingers
The Veil of Self-Justification
This attitude says, “No one can correct or confront me. It’s just the way I am.” Sadly enough, this veil now comes in extra-large for our postmodern, no absolutes, what-I-do-is-my-business world in which we live. The flesh loves to cover up, hide, and pretend. Satan has convinced us that the only way to get ahead is to hide behind a veil. We live in fear of being rejected, wanting only to be liked and accepted. So we cave in and hide behind a veil…and we have one for every occasion.
John Fisher wrote a song about this phenomenon entitled “Evangelical Veil Productions”:
Evangelical Veil Productions!
Pick one up at quite a reduction;
Got all kinds of shapes and sizes;
Introductory bonus prizes!
Special quality, one-way see through;
You can see them but they can’t see you.
Never have to show yourself again!
Just released–A Moses model;
Comes with shine in a plastic bottle,
It makes you look like you’ve just seen the Lord!
Just one daily application
And you’ll fool the congregation,
Guaranteed to last a whole week through.
Got a Back-from-the-Summer-Camp veil,
With a Mountain-top look that’ll never fail,
As long as you renew it every year.
Fischer’s humorous take is all too true. But before you despair, there is hope! Look back at 2 Corinthians 3:
“…but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (vv. 16, 17)
The veil can be removed because the Spirit has come to end the old.
“Whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” When we turn to the Spirit, we are submitting ourselves to the one who releases us from fear, bondage, and the flesh. We have power through the Holy Spirit, and we can expect the Spirit of God to do what He says He will do.
“For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:5-7)
“If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live…” (Romans 8:13). When I look in the mirror and fix the problem I see – when I identify the veil as the sin it truly is – then the Spirit can go to work and do what only He can do in changing me from the inside out.
The veil can be removed because the Spirit releases resurrection power in our lives.
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” The law doesn’t save; Jesus saves. The law doesn’t set us free; Jesus sets us free. The temptation is to trust in self rather than the Savior. God knew we couldn’t do it; that’s why He never asked us to. We desperately need the Savior and the Spirit.
You can determine whether or not you’re wearing a veil by answering this question: Who or what is on the throne of your heart? We’ve mastered the art of “I’m doing okay in so many areas of my life. There are just a few places where Jesus isn’t Lord, I’m in charge, and I’m hoping I can keep up my cover.” We can walk consistently in many areas, but find ourselves blowing it in others.
If we are honest, we all have vulnerable places and we all have a closet full of veils. Areas where we struggle. Things that make us vulnerable and typically center on what others might think if they knew the truth. But the reality is that God knows it all and loves us just the same. But He does want us to face the situation and deal with it.
We get frustrated because we can walk in the joy of the Lord one minute and completely blow it the next minute. The quick fix is to put on the veil and pretend we aren’t struggling. Or to point out the veils others are wearing. Neither response is helpful. What we need to do is run to Jesus and look to Jesus.
Only by His power can we overcome.
So, what are you wearing to church this Sunday? Got your veil picked out?