Veneer can make sub-quality wood look great. The wood itself may be unattractive plywood or particle board, but glue a thin (1/8 inch) strip of oak on the outside and the wood looks like solid oak.
Many people live as if they were veneer-covered plywood. Whenever they are in public, they put on their good face. But in private they live otherwise.
The Pharisees of old lived like this. Jesus called them “white-washed tombs,” which look beautifully clean on the outside, but inwardly are full of decomposing bodies (Matthew 23:27). Jesus described them as cups that were clean on the outside, but on the inside were full of greed and self-indulgence (Matthew 23:25). To such people, Jesus said, “Woe to you.”
Over my years of pastoral ministry, I have discovered that people can hide their true selves pretty well (for decades, even). But eventually, their hypocrisy will be exposed, either during their lives or during the final judgment.
The good news is that we don’t need to be clean to be received by God. Neither do we need to cover our lives with a veneer of righteousness. The opposite is true. We must confess our uncleanness. God will take the old wood and transform it into something beautiful that doesn’t need to be hidden.
I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. (Psalm 32:5).