In Collins dictionary, pious is defined as ‘reverence and love for God marked by pretended or mistaken devotion’.
In modern language, the word is applied to those who act religious and look down on those who aren’t or those who aren’t up their standard.
The Pharisee in Luke 18
A key Biblical example of the pious man is the Pharisee in Luke 18:9 who considered himself of such goodness that he belittled the sinful publican, but couldn’t see his own arrogance. His rightness of religious sanctity blinded him to the sin of pride in his own heart.
The average Christian would loudly deny that they are pious. That’s because none of can see our own prideful nature until God exposes it. We all hide behind our goodness and truly believe that we are saved and good. But are we?
How do you know whether you are pious or not?
A pious Christian will judge you then tell you what’s right and wrong without any understanding of the spirit of how wrong can be right. In 2 Samuel 6:16 & 20-23 Michal judged David for dancing with an ephod, but the truth was that she had elevated herself above him and envied the fact that he had other wives when she was the first. Besides, she was Saul’s daughter.
A pious person secretly desires position. They might act humble and all sweetness but in the secret crevices of their heart they yearn for the favour of others and to look superior in the public arena and envy you when you are more liked. Michal showed that she was really just like her father in spirit … full of envy and piety.
How do you know if you want position when you don’t think you do?
You’ll only discover your desire for position either when you don’t get it or when you do. Not getting it will send you into a mood and getting it will puff you up. A pious Christian will be glad when he’s promoted or recognised and sad when you are. He’ll be happy when you fall.
We all fall to pride. Most people are willing to apologise when they get found out, but like the rich young ruler and Esau, a pious person can’t find repentance even though they apologise because they won’t let go their position.
A pious person will live under the spirit of fear of being inferior and will usually intimidate another with this fear to bend to their opinion and perspective so they always appear the superior one.
A pious person won’t like being corrected for their sin. They can’t afford to have it exposed. It makes them feel inferior in the eyes of others. They will consequently blame you for exposing it and making them feel bad when they felt ok before you came along and shined a light on their sin.
Signs of piety
The pious person will eventually say something like …
If you don’t think the way I think, you’re an idiot.
If you can’t see it the way I see, you’re wrong.
If you don’t agree with my perspective, you’re opinionated.
If you oppose my opinion, you’re rude.
If you’re not nice to me then I don’t have to be nice to you.
If you’re not going to listen to me then why should I listen to you.
Don’t tell me I’m wrong; you are.
This does not sound like the love of God to me!
Envy, judge, tell and won’t be told are inherent signs of piety.
The Pharisee in Luke 18 was really saying … “look at me God, I’m good”. He was not only promoting himself to God, but TELLING God what to do, and justifying his thinking by comparing himself to a sinner below him. Pious people always compare themselves to what others have or what others are, to see if they are better, or have a better or worse deal. Pious people can easily see the sin in others, but not in themselves.
Nathan changed his mind … 2 Samuel 7:3-5
A pious person likes to point out your wrongs. If they think you’re wrong then it promotes their right. Such a person would judge Nathan that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about because God corrected his decision.
But, a righteous person would understand the heart of Nathan and know he was right on both occasions. A pious person can’t understand and discern the spirit of that concept … they’re into black and white.
If you want position you can’t be a David
And if you’re not a David then you’re not in the lineage of Christ. Why do you think Christ chose the lineage of David to be born in? Yes, David was a king, and yes, David was a shepherd, but there were plenty of other kings and shepherds.
The key reason is that David didn’t count himself worthy to have any position. In fact, when Samuel arrived to anoint him he was not only not even considered in the line-up with his brothers, he wasn’t expecting to be nor did he allow envy of his brothers to dictate his soul. In 2 Samuel 7:18-29 David exposes his inner soul’s attitude when he expresses his gratitude to God for considering such an insignificant vessel as himself to do His work. That’s the heart of Christ. Piety doesn’t think that way.
Forgiven before the apology
Even when David had sinned with Bathsheba and murdered her husband, God had already forgiven him before he apologised, 2 Samuel 12:13. God didn’t judge him by the error; He judged him by his heart. He punished him for the error, but He forgave him because of his heart, not because of his apology.
Jesus endorsed the pattern of David by connecting himself to the lineage of David
Every person has to come to the intersection of their pride if they ever want to be saved and in the lineage of Christ. Self has to suffer insignificance and de-valuation and accept it without a mood if it’s ever going to find repentance and be aligned with Christ. You can measure the point of this intersection by being able to accept correction without blaming or excusing it away. Accept the correction and live; object to the correction in any form and you forfeit life because you are being pious.
The issue is the piety
It’s not the sin that’s the issue. The sin exposes the piety of the heart. The issue is the piety. It’s the piety that must be broken if you want the heart of David. That’s the journey of every remnant-elected believer.
If you’re into the lime-light, you’re not into Jesus
May God break our stubborn selfishness into His lineage for His will and for eternity.
Pastor William Stynhedge