Several months ago I had a conversation with a woman who said she didn’t like going to church with a bunch of hypocrites. “You know, the people who stand and pray on Sunday and cuss you out on Monday?”
We talked for quite some time about the truth of “Just because you attend church on Sunday doesn’t mean you are a Christian.” and “Just because you say you you are Christian doesn’t make you one.” I said, “In reality the church is filled with sinners and saved sinners.”
The reality is we all can appear to be hypocrites at times. It’s not that we desire to be, but the truth is we often say or act one way and then the next day behave the complete opposite. What we need to understand is that those who truly have a relationship with the Lord will see the hypocrisy in their life and confess it to God and ask forgiveness of others.
This led to the questions “What does it mean to be a true follower of God? How will you know a Christ follower?”
So, how do we know? Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:16-20 “you will know them by their fruits...A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
He goes on to say in verses 21-23 that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord!” will enter heaven. Only those who obey God will enter.
These scriptures, taken as written shows us clearly that a true follower of Christ will produce good fruit in obedience to the Father.
This does not mean anyone who is good and does good things will go to heaven. Being good does not make one a Christian. But the evidence of a relationship with Christ will show through your good works. In other words, if you say you are a follow of Christ (a Christian) yet still live as the world does disregarding the sin in your life then you might want to question yourself on whether you are a Christian or not.
I am not judging here. Scripture is very clear that a Christian will show evidence of a relationship with Christ by the way they live.
1 John 1: 5-7 say “God is light and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness. We are not living in the truth. But if we are living in the light of God's presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin.” (NLT)
I wanted to use the NLT version because it says it every plainly. But if you look at the bold sections in NASB it says “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light…”
When you look at the word walk in the Greek it means “to make one's way, progress towards, to live.” So we could say that if someone is living a life that progresses into sin then they do not practice truth. On the other hand if their life lived is progressing toward obedience and righteousness then they are practicing truth and the evidence of their life shows they truly are a Christ follower.
Living a continual life of sin and a believer in Christ does not go together. Yes Christians still sin. We disobey God. We are not perfect. John goes on to say in chapter 1:8-10
“If we say we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and refusing to accept the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. (NLT)
So what are we to do? We admit our sins. We confess them before God and He will forgive us of our sins.
What we need to understand is the Christian has an Advocate in Christ. Jesus Christ came to earth as a sacrifice for our sins so that we might find peace with God. (1 John 2:1-2) Through Christ’s death on the cross we have forgiveness of sins. (John 3:16)
1 John 3: 7-10 say “Dear children, don't let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it is because they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows they belong to the Devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy these works of the Devil.Those who have been born into God's family do not sin, because God's life is in them. So they can't keep on sinning, because they have been born of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the Devil. Anyone who does not obey God's commands and does not love other Christians does not belong to God.” (NLT)
I don’t know about you, but to me, this is black and white. There is no grey. No way around it. If I continually live a life of sin, disregarding what God says, then I just might want to question if I am truly a believer. And if I know someone who claims the name of Christ yet shows no evidence of it and continues living a sinful lifestyle then I might want to change how I pray for them.
I need to pray that they see the sin in their life, their heart. I need to pray that God would draw them unto Himself. Just because someone prayed a prayer once in their life doesn’t mean they are saved and going to heaven. Scripture is clear, a true Christ follow will show evidence of a continuous growth toward holiness and righteousness. If there is NO evidence of good fruit then we should be praying for their salvation.
If ever an opportunity clearly comes before me to speak this truth into a particular heart? I pray I am bold enough, that all believers are bold enough, to speak truth and say “you might want to take it before God and ask Him if you are truly saved. You might not be a Christian.” 2 Peter 1:10 says “…be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you…) And Phil 2:12 reminds us to …”work out your salvation with fear and trembling…”
May I be ever diligent working out my salvation…confess my sins and continually live a life that abide (not to depart;to continue to be present) in Him.
“And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. So whoever has God's Son has life; whoever does not have his Son does not have life. I write this to you who believe in the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life.” 1 John 5: 11-13 (NLT)
Today I am linking up here…..