I’m going to offend some people with this post. I’m going to make some professing Christians very angry… fiercely angry with me. I just know it. But in case you didn’t already know, this blog is not the place to receive Rick Warren, Benny Hinn or Joel Osteen ‘feel good’ vibes in your stomach. This is a place where we are all challenged to live for Christ in the way He has commanded us to. This is a challenge from God to us all and this is something that’s been on my heart as of late.
You see, Christianity… Australian Christianity is filled with people who think they are saved because they go to church. Because they sing nice songs to Jesus. Because they made a profession one night in response to an altar call. Because they are ‘generally good’.
How can you be sure that you are a true Christian? A true believer in Christ?
Some common answers include:
“Because I just know that”
“Well I know in my heart that I am saved”
“Well I am saved because the preacher man told me I am saved”
“Because I repeated the sinner’s prayer after the preacher man one night”
Unfortunately those answers just don’t cut it with God.
What we’re talking about here is truth from Scripture and it applies to me as much as it does to you. It’s something that needs to be said and it’s also something that is rare to be heard in todays modern carnal churches. In fact, it’s foreign to the great majority of churches.
Many people don’t want to hear this truth because it will shake up the false hope that they’ve been clinging to… that they’re going to Heaven when they die. A false hope that they are saved because they prayed the sinner’s prayer one night, yet are living like little demons.
With that said we’ll be drawing our discussion from the word of God, 2 Corinthians chapter 13 verse 5:
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.
Are you truly in the faith?
What does it mean to examine yourself? Notice it says to test yourself. It’s not a light examination. It’s a not a whimsical, petty thing. It’s a test and tests aren’t easy. Don’t think about it for 15 seconds. Think about it deeply. Are you really right with God? Does God know you? Are you His Child? What evidence can you show that you are His? If you test yourself in the light of scripture, will you be found to be truly born again, complete in Christ and kept by the power of God?
Test yourself in light of scripture! I can’t emphasise that enough. Don’t test yourselves against others who call themselves Christians. It doesn’t matter what your good buddy does… it really doesn’t. Because you know what, let me tell you something that the great majority of people who call themselves Christians right here in Australia are lost…. LOST! Stop relying on your emotions as well. Emotions are fluid, they are transient. One moment you can be all excited for God and the next, you can be as dead as a cold potato. It’s kind of like a Hillsong concert. They get you “high” and wild on Chris Tomlin’s music because the rock ‘n roll style really appeals to your carnal flesh but once that conference is over… all that excitement and fire is gone – not that it was real in the first place anyway.
Don’t test yourself against your own standards either. Thinking that your profession of faith is sincere is flawed. The Bible says that there is a way that seems right unto a man and that leads to death (Prov 14:12). We are fallen human beings and our standards will never ever meet God’s thus we should not even think to base this test on our own standards. That “way” can be anyway we like it or want it to be. God’s ways on the other hand do not change. We have to receive salvation on God’s terms, not the ones we make up.
Examine yourself. Take the infallible Word of God that lives and abides for ever, that never changes. Use that as your standard and see what it has to say about what a true Christian is and then examine yourself in light of that. If you fall short of that test, then repent! Cry out to God and put your faith in His finished work on the Cross! Ask for God’s mercy and let God work in your heart! Wait until that work is finished! If this work is really of the Lord then “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). If it is not of the Lord and you “fall away” or “backslide” and live in continuous, unrepentant sin, it means that there is a very high possibility that you were never truly saved. That it was a deceiving work of the flesh, a counterfeit, because as we’ve just read if it was a real work of God, He would see it right through to completion.
Let me give you a little analogy. A number of years ago, when I was a little boy, I once crossed a hanging foot bridge in Borneo – a flimsy and hazardous contraption made of wire and wood that is suspended high above the jungle floor, high above a gorge where down below are all manner of man eating animals. I can tell you that I remember carefully stepping on that bridge. I tested it. I examined it carefully. Why? Because if you get out in the middle of that thing and it breaks, you’re dead. So in the same way that salvation that you cling onto may end up being nothing more than a piece of thin, easy-to-break string that as soon as you end up in eternity the fires of hell blast up and your piece of string melts through and you fall down.
Don’t deceive yourself and others by pretending that you are Christ’s when you are not.
1 John 1:6-7 (NKJV) says If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
It’s says it clearly here that if we say that we’re a Christian but yet we walk in darkness (like Satan’s children) then we are are lying and not practicing the truth. In other words it is impossible to be living a life of sin and at the same time enjoying fellowship with God. Let’s take a quick look at what the Apostle John means here when he talks about walking in darkness. Understand that darkness is the opposite of light. Sin, Satan and the demons all dwell in darkness. Whenever darkness is mentioned in the Bible, it is always in a negative light because after all, evil and wickedness dwells there. What does it mean to walk? The Greek word for walk is peripateo which essentially means “conduct my life” or “live”. Now let’s put that all together. If we say that we are a Christian, that we are fellowshipping with God yet we are conducting our life or living contrary to what God teaches about how the Christian is to live his life then we are lying. It’s that clear and simple. I don’t know how to make it any clearer.
John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”
True believers in Christ will not be walking in darkness because they will have God’s light to guide them in life.
Let’s go to 1 John 1:8 now. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Throughout the ages, certain marginal strands of Christianity have held onto this view or idea of sinless perfection. This is clearly not the case in Scripture. For those of us who are truly saved we are going to sin… we will be susceptible to sin all the days of our life. We are going to fall. But the difference is that we have to be willing to admit our sins, repent and turn to God ask His forgiveness and then try to do better. One of the greatest evidences that someone is truly saved is that they will be sensitive and conscious of the sin in their life and they will be constantly led to repentance and humble confession of their sins before God. When was the last time you wept over your sin? When was the last time you felt anguish because you grieved God’s heart? Frightening isn’t it? We all need to be aware of the sin in our lives (myself included) and be willing to admit them, repent before God and strive to live a life pleasing to Him. If we say that we have no sin in our lives then we have a real problem because we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us or in other words we are lying.
So friends, test yourselves, find out whether your are truly God’s. Whether He knows you. Whether you are His child. Are you producing fruit to prove it? If you are truly saved, are you being conscious of the sin that so easily besets us? Are you dealing with it on your knees before God? Are you fighting it away like a mad beast? Are you slaying the carnality of your flesh?