Using Questions as a Smokescreen

Sometimes asking ‘clever’ questions about God are a smokescreen to hide what’s really going on in our hearts. 

 Luke 20: 20

20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor.

Smokescreen (noun): a ruse designed to disguise someone’s real intentions or activities.” The word “smokescreen” comes from the military practice of creating a cloud of smoke to hide some secretive military activity. When I read this chapter in Luke, I’m struck by the way these religious leaders use seemingly innocent questions as a smokescreen to hide their more sinister intentions. 

The phrase “pretended to be sincere” shows their hypocrisy clearly. These spies might be asking Jesus things that seem like legitimate questions about financial responsibility and the nature of marriage… but they’re not genuine questions. Even if they’re good questions, they’re not genuine ones. They’re trick questions, and these people already know the answer they’re listening for. 

They pretend to engage with God, but the questions they ask act like a smokescreen, a distraction from the real truth and from the real heart issues that they want to hide.  

I wonder how often my own questions about God act like a smokescreen to hide behind. Do I pretend to ask “good” questions while avoiding asking “genuine” questions that help me understand the heart of God? Do I always feel the need to ask really “clever” questions at growth group or in my devotions? Do these questions pretend to be interested in knowing about God, while keeping him at a distance as a theological idea? Or do I let down the smokescreen and ask deeper questions that get to my heart, about how I can grow in my godliness? I find it so easy to have intellectual conversations about theological ideas, but much harder to sincerely question how God wants to change my heart. I need to let the smokescreen down, stop asking ‘clever’ questions, and come before God with a sincere heart that longs to know the real Jesus. 

Head: What are the sort of questions you tend to ask as you read the Bible (either in your personal devotions or at growth group)? What do they reveal about what is most important to you? 

Heart: What is one heart issue God is calling you to change and mature in? What sort of questions can you start asking that will help set your mind on that transformation?  

Hands: As you read the Bible this week (alone and with others), ask the questions that cut to the heart. And show the sincerity of your questions by truly listening to the answers God speaks. 

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you that you are a true and living God, a personal God who hears and who speaks. Please forgive me for the insincerity of my heart and for the smokescreens I’ve put up to hide my hypocrisy. Would you please transform my heart through the Spirit as I sincerely listen to you speak through your word? Amen. 

A song to listen to: Speak, O Lord 

Matt Ventura 

Living Church – City South 

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