Many years ago, I heard these heartbreaking words from my young children: Mommy, why are so many Christians mean? as they offered up a vivid description of an undeniable, long-term pattern of sin in a fellow church member’s blatantly unrepentant behavior.
A tough question to ponder, until we open the Bible to understand what God’s Word clearly says of such things.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)
Anyone may call themselves a Christian. Yet speaking these words does not magically make them true, does it? Are we being deceived into assuming we are Christians?
The answer is yes, if we are continually refusing to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Christ. Our life must be one of striving to obey God rather than bending toward man-pleasing behaviors. True believers are safely hidden in Christ through faith, by the finished work of Christ. His crucifixion at Golgotha is where mercy and justice collided, making salvation possible through faith by God’s grace.
“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”(Colossians 3:3)
Do you see it? True death to our unbelieving flesh produces new life, safe and guarded and hidden with Christ in God. This is why martyrs choose to perish rather than deny the name of Jesus. Real faith always produces unquestionable evidence. (Hebrews 11:16)
Genuine salvation, the work of God, takes a heart of stone and crushes it, producing a softened, transformed heart. The evidence of this is stunning fruit, which is produced by the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Many are willing to soft-pedal truth, sprinkling you with generous assurance that you are an upstanding church member, and thereby saved. I prefer to challenge you to search your heart through the plumb line of Scripture. Nothing is more important than pausing in truthful examination of your soul.
It is a holy endeavor to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We all continue to sin and fall short of God’s glory, and no one is perfect. Yet a person walking in true faith will hunger to obey God, continually repenting of uprising sin, while striving to live in accordance with Scripture.
Death to self and bowing low before God in humble repentance leads to a hidden eternity with Christ in God. The life of a true believer will stand in stark contrast to the world, where selfishness and anger and envy and bitterness rule the day.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
I say to you now: Are you on the narrow, difficult path, hidden with Christ in God through faith?