Monday, September 27, 2010

The Christian Who Isn't

Depending on what poll you look at, the percentage of self-professing Christians in America is somewhere around 80%.  Self-professing evangelical Christians are a little over 50%.  In a nation of over 300 million people, our churches should be bursting at the seams.  With statistics such as that, it is confounding that our nation is so far gone morally.  Our most popular entertainment is largely sex-themed (even for youth), our popular music is filled with sex and drugs, and our children get into worse and worse trouble.  Add to that our miserable divorce rate and one wonders what in the world is going on.  I dare say that many who call themselves Christians are in fact not.

It is as it was in Judges:
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.  Judges 21:25 NKJV
While we may expect that kind of behavior from the lost, it is a tragedy when we get that same behavior from those who call themselves Christians.  There are so many who associate themselves as Christian yet only feel they need to show up to church at Christmas and Easter.  They live in constant rebellion whether it be living with an unsaved boyfriend or using foul language or getting drunk or having sex out of marriage etc.  If you live a life in constant rebellion to God, how do you then say that you follow Jesus?  If you have no desire to follow Jesus, can you really say that you call him Lord?  I feel so many of those who call themselves Christian are in for quite a shock when they stand before the Great White Throne of Judgment, and yes I mean that judgment not meant for believers.  The fact is that there are too many who associate as Christians who are not Christians.  God spoke of these in 2 Timothy:
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. 2 Timothy 3:1-9 NKJV
To those who feign Christianity I say this as a warning.  You can only pretend for so long and that conviction you feel now for your deception will not last forever.  Soon, God will just give you over to your lusts to allow you to live inside your own delusion of faith until you stand before God. 
And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. Romans 1:28-32 NKJV
The very fact that you may be offended by a statement such as I wrote shows that there is a little conscience still working within you.  If God has already hardened your heart, you would not even care enough to be offended.  You probably would not even be reading this.  Again, this is a warning to those pretending to be Christian.  You may fool your parents, your relatives, your friends, and even whatever church you go to, but you do not fool God and in the end it will be your own soul that is required.  Repent and truly accept Jesus before it is too late.  God spells out the consequences for not accepting the truth of the Gospel that you know.
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Hebrews 10:26-31 NKJV
The blood of Christ is the most precious thing.  Those who know that yet choose to trample all over it by feigning their faith need our prayers for God's mercy.  They need that because if they faced God now in their present state, they would learn just how precious God sees the blood of Jesus.  God is clear that the more someone hears the Gospel and continues to reject it, the worse their judgment will be.
Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and SIdon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and SIdon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you." Matthew 11:20-24 NKJV
Now we know the tragedy, but how does this happen? How is it that so many who are lost are able to call themselves Christians?  How do we as those truly elect allow that to happen?  The answer is that we allow sin in our lives and in our churches.  We let the cancer in and do nothing once it is there.  Our largest pulpits preach a Gospel of self esteem where no one hears about the changes that should be happening in their lives.  We hear "Jesus saves" but we never talk about what that salvation means.  We are part of their delusion.  They are able to believe that they are saved because no one tells them otherwise.  We "love" them right into Hell and pat ourselves on the back. Here are the main problems.

First, we love our ears to be tickled and through that we promote pulpits that do not teach the destructive nature of sin.  We follow leaders who preach only that Jesus saves but never how to live once saved.  We swell the ranks of churches that are only taught how "good" they are.  We love to be encouraged but never admonished or challenged.  We love to have our self esteem raised while ignoring our call to be Holy.  It is as it was prophesied:
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 2 Timothy 4:1-4 NKJV
Note the contrast.  God through Paul is giving the charge for sound teaching.  That teaching should be based on God's word and meant to convince, rebuke, and exhort.  However, in these times people reject that sound doctrine and prefer to just satisfy their itching ears and select teachers that promote self esteem rather than God.  These teachers become popular and those churches become large and many who think they are Christian sit comfortably hearing nothing about the changed lives they are supposed to have.  If God did not want us taught about wrong and right living in Christ, why would have have spent so much time through the letters of Paul teaching us those things?  We need to follow sound teachers teaching sound doctrine. 

Another issue causing the problem of those thinking they are Christians is the lack of accountability.  No one wants to challenge anyone anymore.  We do not want to hold each other to account for the sin in each others lives.  We need to confront the sinning brother or sister in love and share with them the error of their actions.  We need to call people out on their sins, not ignore what we know is wrong in their lives.  That is not the example given in the Bible.  First we have the epistles of Paul sent to the churches usually regarding some error, we have the account of Paul confronting Peter about something he was doing wrong.  And we also have the instruction in Scripture to do so.
"Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector." Matthew 18:14-17 NKJV
We are called to confront a sinful brother. We must confront with a clean heart, but we must confront.  The goal it confronting sin in our midst is not to judge anyone, but to restore them in their walk with God or help them check their hearts as to whether they really have given them to the Lord.   You may think you are loving someone by accepting their sin, but you are not.  You are watching someone you claim to love drive themselves off a cliff for fear or offending them or hurting that relationship.  That is not love, that is selfishness.  It is better to lose a friend for a time then for God to lose a soul for eternity.  This message is mostly about those who deceive themselves into believing they are saved, but if they consider themselves as part of the church, we need to treat them as such.  We can not know if someone is truly saved or not, and inside the church when it comes to confronting sin, it really does not matter.  We are to confront sin in our midst, but there is a catch. We can not confront sin when we ourselves are knee-deep in it.  The Bible is clear that we are to remove the plank from our own eye before helping a brother remove the speck from his.

And so to those who are living truly for God, take the time to truly love those who are not following the Lord they claim as theirs.  That love comes by, in all love and humility and with a clean heart, confronting them in their sin.  The life you live in Christ may mean the difference between someone you love living for God or following a path leading to destruction.  For those of you who are not following God, I urge you to check your heart with God.  If you feel no conviction and there is no chastisement for what you know to be sin in your life, it is not because God is accepting it.  It is because God is giving you over to it.  Do not harden your heart to the point where God gives you what you desire and hands you over to your sin.  If you do feel that conviction, do not harden your heart because at some point God will harden it for you.  Repent, come to Jesus, and live that glorious life in Christ that Jesus has died to give you.  God desires all to repent and come to Him.  God wishes that none should perish.  God will rejoice in heaven when you come to Him. 
"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!' I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the piece which I lost!' Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."  Luke 15:4-10 NKJV

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