If you are a professing Christian and this is your first visit to our site, this is where you want to start…
Do you obey God? As soon as I ask the question, I know what you’re thinking. But, don’t worry, this is not some legalistic article trying to promote how we can only go to heaven if we do this, do that, and stop doing that thing over there. With that assurance out of the way, let me ask again… Do you obey God? Do you do what you know He has commanded you to do? Do you avoid that which He has told you stay away from? How about in your thoughts? Do you dwell upon and fantasize about those things which are sinful? Be truthful with yourself. The reason this is important is that John (known as the Apostle of love) wrote the book of 1st John talking about how we can know for sure that we are truly saved, and obedience is one of the things he talks about. Not obedience to earn something, but to examine something.
As you probably know, disobedience is called sin. In the Bible John says this about Christians and sin:
“Anyone who continues to live in Him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who He is. Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. But when people keep on sinning, it shows that they belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. But the Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.” 1 John 3:6-10
Do you feel as though the sin in your life isn’t that big of a deal? According to the scripture above, what is God’s view of those who continue to live in sin? It says that if you continue to live in sin, it is evidence that you have not been born into God’s family. You haven’t been born again. It says that you are not a Christian, even if you call yourself one! If this describes you, don’t be offended at us…. be alarmed for yourself!
Now you may be saying, “Wait a minute! I have understood salvation to be a free gift! This sounds like I have to be good to be saved, or in other words, do good works!”
Well, salvation is a free gift, you can’t earn it, the Bible says:
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:8-9
But as we saw in the passage in 1st John, those who are truly saved will not walk in sin. How can this be? Is one passage of the Bible stating we have to be good in order to be saved and another passage telling us salvation is free and we can’t earn it through obedience? Is the Bible contradicting itself? Not at all! The outward fruit in your life isn’t what determines your inward state; but your inward state is what determines your outward fruit. A life trademarked by sin is an outward sign of someone who has not been born again into the family of God. Think about the story of the Horse:
Once upon a time a horse lived on a beach. To live on the beach, he was required to follow a set of rules. Daily he was commanded to swim, stay wet, and eat bugs. The horse worked hard at obeying the rules, but found it very difficult. The lifestyle he was ordered to live was very unnatural and uncomfortable for him. In truth, he often failed to fully obey the commands as instructed. His failure to fully follow the commands made him feel awfully guilty, but he decided that he was doing the best he could, and everything would be OK, in the end. However, often in the cool of the evening he would dwell on his failure to keep the rules, worrying that things might not actually be OK. He really didn’t know what to do, and in the end he would always justify his failure to obey the rules. Thinking once again I am doing the best I can, God will surely accept that!
One day, while walking on the beach, a strange thing happened…he was suddenly changed, or re-born, into a fish! He quickly flopped into the water, and was very happy spending all his days swimming around, staying wet, and regularly eating bugs. In fact, he found the bugs to be quite tasty, and his new life as a fish was very fulfilling. He thought, “How much happier I am now that I am a fish!” Now the rules he was given made perfect sense to him, and were no longer difficult to obey, now that he was a new creature with a new nature. His life as a horse was over. However, every once in a while he would flop up on the beach, to see if he would enjoy his old horse activities, but he found them very unfulfilling. His old ways made him feel very uneasy and guilty. Furthermore, he realized that living on the beach, would kill him, so he quickly flip-flopped back into the water. As time went by, he learned more fish ways, and really enjoyed being a fish. After a while, he forgot all about once being a horse. Being a fish and doing fish things was far more satisfying. He was one happy fish!
The moral of the story is that doing fish activities didn’t change the horse into a fish. He was simply a wet horse, tired of eating bugs. What changed the horse into a fish was being re-born. You must be re-born to be acceptable to God (John 3:3, 7). You must be supernaturally transformed by God to be a new creature (a fish) fit to dwell with God in His kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:17). Lots of people profess to be a Christian and they base this on keeping a set of rules, such as, striving to be a good person, doing good things, keeping the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, or attending church. Such rule keeping will never transform you from being a lost person (a horse) in to being a genuine Christian (a fish). When we are still comfortable telling lies (even on tax day), getting drunk, and looking at pornography, then we are proving that we are lost. When we spend the majority of our time, focus and concern on money and finances or when we continue to gossip and backbite we prove that we are lost.
I know many, many people will respond to this article in the following fashion, “We all still sin. The author of this is a legalist and just doesn’t fully understand the Bible or the love of Jesus.” And so they will advise others as well. “Don’t worry,” they will teach, “go back to your life and have no concern regarding this troublesome article.” But what does the Lord God have to say?
Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him. Ephesians 5:5-6
Indeed all true believers do still struggle with sin. Even a quick read of Romans 7 will tell you that the Apostle Paul himself struggled. But if your life is trademarked by sin rather than a thirst for righteousness, then you have a problem; you are not saved! That is the teaching of scripture. There are other tests as well to see if you are truly saved. For example: do you love other Brothers and Sisters in Christ? Do you enjoy the company of other Christians or do you find them to be boring and uncomfortable? Do you look forward to their company or feel awkward when around them? Please read the short book of 1st John with prayer and an open mind, and then inspect the fruit in your own life to see if your faith and salvation is genuine. Don’t take the teachings of anybody over the teachings in the Bible. Read it yourself.
“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ Matthew 7:21-23
There is only one way to be genuinely saved, you must come to Jesus Christ on the terms He demands! (see Mark 1:15) Trying to approach Jesus in any other way will only lead you to eternal damnation and separation from God for all eternity. Thus, Jesus makes two specific demands of every person desiring to be a Christian. First, in faith you must trust the Lord Jesus to forgive your sins. He is able to do this not by just dismissing your guilt, but because He paid the penalty for your crimes when He died on the Cross. You must cling to Him and his work alone to save you, recognizing your obedience has no part in salvation. Second, you must repent (turn away from) all sin in your life, now that you recognize the horrible price Christ paid for your sins. When you become a true Christian, our Lord will supernaturally transform you into a new creature with a new heart that longs to obey Him and to be near Him and His people. These changes will change your life here, and give you eternal life in the hereafter.
Remember, whenever any teaching is presented to you, see if it is aligned with God’s Word. Many times our beliefs are set in concrete and we then go looking for some scriptural excerpts to back up those beliefs. PLEASE do not make that mistake!
Look at every verse in context, and in every place in the Bible a topic is referenced. Then, and only then, set your beliefs in concrete.