"Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in [Jesus]. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God." John 12:42-43
I'm listening to a sermon by JR Vasser (as a guest speaker at The Village Church) called 'Freedom from the fear of man' in which my approval-seeking sin is being brought to painful attention. Speaking of these leaders mentioned in the passage above, JR says:
"These men wanted the glory that comes from men and the fear of man – they feared rejection, they wanted to maintain acceptance and approval, they wanted notoriety and attention and the thought of losing it was enough to say no to the God of the universe."
Ouch. It also contains possibly the clearest explanation of the difference between religion and Christianity that I've ever heard:
"Jesus is our saviour and he's also our model [for our behaviour]. Now you can't get those two flipped, right? There's an order to that. He's our saviour and then becomes our model. Now for some of us, maybe we've reversed that. And he's become a model. And your understanding of religion or your understanding of Christianity is that you try to live like Jesus. You say 'I try to live a good life, I try to live like Jesus' – well listen: The reason Jesus died the death he died is because you and I couldn't live the life he lived. Are you with me? … We're not perfect; we're sinners, we're fallen. We need him to die in our place to bear the judgement for our sin and we put our faith and trust in him and we are justified – declared right before God – and now we realise that we're working from God's acceptance, not for it."