If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. (1 John 1:6)

I FELL FOR A SCAM once when I was a young adult and lost several hundred dollars—money I couldn’t afford to sacrifice. The money was the least of my concerns, though; what troubled me most was the discovery of evil intent from people who appeared good-hearted. It shocked me.

Even after years of life experiences that have knocked the “gullible” out of me, I still feel sad to come across verses that call us to integrity. “Don’t pretend to be godly when you’re not,” these passages say. How it must hurt God to have to tell us that! Isn’t it obvious? No matter how good we appear to others, if we are living a lie, we are lost. We are all dressed up with no place to go.

It’s one thing to deceive others, but I wonder how often we fool ourselves. We engage in something contrary to God’s law and tell ourselves it’s no big deal. We neglect to do what God wants us to do and hardly notice. We feel hatred for another person, and say that God would understand. Wouldn’t it be awful to arrive at the pearly gates only to discover that we’ve scammed ourselves?

There is no darkness in God, and so, if we are to approach Him, there must be no darkness in us.

Ask someone close to you if they see anything hypocritical in you.

Heather Gemmen Wilson is the author of the Global Warning Series (WPH), a fiction series for preteens. She is married to a Wesleyan pastor.