The Strange Case of Brother Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Rev. Tony Cooke

The Strange Case of Brother Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Rev. Tony Cooke

Brother JekyllYou’ve probably never heard of “Brother” Jekyll before. For this article, I’ve made a slight adjustment to the title of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel that was first published in 1886.

In Stevenson’s book, Dr. Henry Jekyll is a seemingly good, polite, decent, and respectable man. An experimental potion designed to purify his good side has the unfortunate effect of magnifying his darker side, which results in the emergence of his alter ego, Edward Hyde. Hyde is evil, monstrous, hateful, and murderous. He is the embodiment of evil. More than 100 years later, when people hear the term, “Jekyll and Hyde,” they still think of a person who is radically different in his moral character and behavior from one moment to another.

The reason I changed “Dr. Jekyll” to “Brother Jekyll” for this article is because I want to look at similar dynamics as it relates to a believer (or a so-called believer).

David expressed incredible pain in Psalm 55 as he described a betrayal that occurred at the hands of a Brother Jekyll-turned-Mr. Hyde that he described in the following way: “it is you—my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we once enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God” (Psalm 55:13-14, NLT). A few verses later, David said, “His words are as smooth as butter, but in his heart is war. His words are as soothing as lotion, but underneath are daggers” (Psalm 55:21, NLT).

Jesus exposed some Brother Jekyll’s when he said to the most religious people of his day, “…you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:25, 27-28, NLT).

Paul had run-ins with more than one Brother Jekyll. He said, “I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not” (2 Corinthians 11:26, NLT). In the Message version of 2 Thessalonians 3:2, Paul says, “And pray that we’ll be rescued from these scoundrels who are trying to do us in. I’m finding that not all ‘believers’ are believers.” How about you? Have you encountered some ‘believers’ who weren’t really believers? Or if they were, they sure didn’t conduct themselves as believers.

Believers (even spiritual leaders) being duplicitous is something that has been observed throughout church history. Because of their increased influence, the problem intensifies when it goes from being “Brother Jekyll” to “Rev. Jekyll”

  • Augustine said of certain preachers, “With their doctrine they build, and with their lives they destroy.
  • John Bunyan said, “Saint abroad, and a devil at home.”
  • Charles Spurgeon, known as the Prince of Preachers, said, “It is a terribly easy matter to be a minister of the gospel and a vile hypocrite at the same time.
  • Spurgeon also said, “It is of no use for any of you to try to be soul-winners if you are not bearing fruit in your own lives. How can you serve the Lord with your lips if you do not serve Him with your lives? How can you preach His gospel with your tongues, when with hands, feet, and heart you are preaching the devil’s gospel, and setting up an antichrist by your practical unholiness?
  • In “Lectures to My Students,” Spurgeon said, “We have all heard the story of the man who preached so well and lived so badly, that when he was in the pulpit everybody said he ought never to come out again, and when he was out of it they all declared he never ought to enter it again.”
  • C.S. Lewis said, “Of all bad men religious bad men are the worst.”

As ministers and Christian leaders, our primary responsibility is not to look and act good publicly; it is to be truly transformed people. Genuine Christianity is substance-based, not image-based. That’s why the Apostle John said, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

George Whitfield was once asked if a certain individual was a good man. He wisely responded, "How should I know that? I never lived with him." I don’t think that God judges our spirituality or godliness based on how we act when people we want to impress are watching. I’m not saying that how we act in public or at church is unimportant, but I believe the ultimate test of spirituality is how we act at home with our spouse and our children, and how we act when no one is watching. John Maxwell said, “Image is what people think we are. Integrity is what we really are.”

As I write this (and as you read it), I pray that we are not like the self-righteous Pharisee that Jesus spoke of who, “…stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men…’” (Luke 18:11). Rather, I hope that we follow the example of David, who prayed, “Search me [thoroughly], O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there is any wicked or hurtful way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, AMP).

May we daily consecrate ourselves before the Lord, and may we daily bear the fruit of Spirit in our lives. I pray that our lives will be singly expressive of God’s nature and character, and that no “Brother Jekyll, Mr. Hyde” business will tarnish our testimony or bring offense to others.