Death By Reputation

Mike Focht 6/14/2024

We are very familiar with warnings regarding the dangers of sex, drugs, money, and power. But Satan uses other tools that are just as lethal in stealing, killing, and destroying both physically and spiritually. One of those is the danger of reputation. Death by reputation is happening all around us!

   Our old nature wants to be seen and known as something special. A part of us desires to have a recognized and honorable Christian reputation. Before Christ, we took pride in what was once our shame. Now that we have come to Christ, Satan will seek to tempt us to take pride in what is for Christ’s glory. So, the pride of life wants to be visible, known, and recognized as an outstanding Christian.

   As we grow in Christ and become more like Him, there will be a natural growth of what is good, right, and honorable in our lives. Even spiritual maturity itself is to be recognized. The Bible acknowledges that honor should be given to whoever it is due. We are to have spiritual leaders who are good examples and of good reputation. The early church recognized men who were faithful, wise, and full of the Holy Spirit in contrast to those who were not. So, there is a natural and healthy reputation that comes with true spiritual maturity.

   That is where Satan attacks us. He stirs our pride so that the reputation that comes naturally through simply loving God above all begins to see itself, love itself, and then protect and guard itself. Soon, we are in a place where we need others to see us as notable Christians. We must now “hold up” and “protect” our reputation as good Christians. This is the tipping point where death by reputation takes over.

   Satan has now tipped the scales so that our pursuit of God has turned into pursuing a spiritual reputation among men. Once, we followed and served Christ because we loved Him, but now we follow and serve Christ to be seen as one who follows and serves Christ. The change is subtle, profound, and destructive. We have begun to please men, and now we can no longer truly please God until we have repented.

   This subtle change may go unseen for some time but cannot last long. We are still sinful humans and cannot keep our “perfect” reputation. So when sin comes—as it always does—how far will we go to keep up our ten, or twenty, or thirty-year reputation as a “good” Christian businessman, pastor, mother, missionary, or servant? How far will we go to keep our sin hidden from the eyes of others, public correction, or Biblical accountability?

   Unfortunately, I have seen Christians lie, steal, cause division, slander, and even murder to keep up their hypocritical reputation. It was what the Pharisees did a long time ago, which is still happening today. When godly honor comes to a man or woman, Satan will immediately try to get your eyes off of Jesus and onto your own “special connection” with Him. He will show you how many people love you, look up to you, and how much truly depends on you and will fall to pieces if your reputation falls apart. This is death by reputation.

   We do not need to see ourselves—or have anyone else see us—as wise, strong, and godly men and women. We must be childlike, following Jesus with simple faith, sincere love, and expectant hope. We do not become more wicked when the Holy Spirit reveals our faults. You and I know we are sinful, but our flesh doesn’t want anyone else to find out! If the sting of others seeing your sin is worse than the lash of the sin itself, then you are on the path to death by reputation. Resist the devil because he is a liar! Instead, seek to be a humble son or daughter of God and nothing more.