Counterfeit Holiness

Homily 2 on the misery and condemnation of humanity is not the most cheerful thing you’ll ever read. But it is at least honest. It outlines what the Bible says about our sinfulness, in accordance with (for example) Article 9 which speaks of “the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man, that naturally is ingendered of the offspring of Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh lusteth always contrary to the spirit; and therefore in every person born into this world, it deserveth God’s wrath and damnation. And this infection of nature doth remain, yea in them that are regenerated.”

In today’s extract from the Homilies, we read about what Jesus said on this. And the preacher tells us about the false and “counterfeit holiness” of those who try to pretend they are actually righteous. In the eyes of the world, they may appear wonderful; but in God’s eyes they are loathsome hypocrites. Here’s what it says:

“Our Saviour Christ says, “No one is good except God alone” (Luke 18:19), and that we can do nothing that is good without him (John 15:5). Nor can anyone come to the Father but by him (John 14:6). He commands us also to say that we are un-profitable servants, when we have done all that we can do (Luke 17:10). He prefers the penitent Publican, before the proud, holy, and glorious Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14).  He calls himself a Physician (Matthew 9:12), but not to them that are whole, but to them that are sick and have need of his salve for their sore.

He teaches us in our prayers to acknowledge ourselves sinners, and to ask righteousness and deliverance from all evils, at our heavenly Father’s hand. He declares that the sins of our own hearts defile our own selves (Mark 7:14-23).  He teaches that an evil word or thought deserves condemnation, affirming that we shall give account for every idle word (Matthew 12:36). He says he came to save none but the sheep that were utterly lost, and cast away (Matthew 15:24).

Therefore few of the proud, just, learned, wise, perfect, and holy Pharisees were saved by him, because they justified themselves by their counterfeit holiness before men.  Wherefore (good people) let us beware of such hypocrisy, vain glory, and justifying of ourselves.”


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