Saturday, May 5, 2012

Where's Your Heart?

For years I have struggled back and forth with the question "can a Christian really backslide, or were they never really saved to begin with and still in need of Christ?"  One school of thought is that if you pray to ask Jesus into your heart and confess your sins to Him, then you are saved.  In result, if you never have a changed life and you just keep on living in darkness or if you at some point walk away from God then you are a "backslidden" Christian, a prodigal.  And I believe that this happens, especially when there is no real discipleship taking place in the new believers life.  However, as I study the Word of God in other areas, this issue has screamed out to me from the pages of my Bible bringing a new light to my beliefs showing a slightly different truth to the matter.

 Before I share anymore, I want to make clear what the Bible says about Salvation to begin with. When God created man, it was for His glory and for His fellowship.  He walked in the garden with Adam and Eve every single day.  We were originally created to be with God forever.  Instead, we gave in to temptation and chose to disobey God.  Eve ate the forbidden fruit and gave it to Adam.  Because Adam ate, we have all inherited his sin.  Romans 3:23 says "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."  We CANNOT get to God on our own, our sin will always keep us apart from Him.  Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us "for by grace we have been saved through faith, and not of ourselves, it is the gift of God.  Not by works, so that no man can boast."  There is no way that for us to pay our sin debt on our own.  Our works will never be good enough to reach the Glory of God, they all fall short.  Romans 6:23 tells us that the payment for our sins is death, eternal separation from God.  Hell is a real place that will be eternally separated from God in the Lake of Fire and anyone who is not written in the Lambs Book of Life will spend eternity there. (Revelation 20:15)  But remember, God created us to be with Him!  Even though we chose to leave Him, He still made a way for us to choose to return.  He did this by coming to us in the form of Jesus Christ.  He lived a sinless life and became the perfect sacrifice to pay the payment for our sins.  He died on the cross for you and me and then He rose again 3 days later, defeating death and making it possible for us to spend eternity with God.  In order to have your name written in the book of life you must turn from your sin, admit your need for a savior, and give your life to Jesus Christ.  Accept His gift of salvation by calling on the name of the Lord.  Believe that Jesus paid the price for your sin by dying on the cross, that He rose again showing power over death.  By trusting in Him alone you will become a Christian and will have eternal life with Him in Heaven. Romans 10:8-10 - If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.

Here's the deal.... God isn't a magic genie in a bottle that if you just say these magic words then "poof" you're going to Heaven.  He sees into the depths of your heart, where no man can see.  He knows if you are just praying a prayer or if you are truly repentant.  He knows if you have truly changed your heart of not.  My calling as a Christian is to be an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) and to plead for your reconciliation to God.  I can't see you're heart, therefore I have to look at your life.  This is where I have struggled back and forth on.  Instead of trying to find the right words to share what I have found, I am just going to write out the scriptures that have helped me to understand it a little better.

Matthew 7:18-20 - A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Galatians 5:19-25 - Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleannes, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Romans 8:5-8 - For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Romans 13:13-14 - Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Ephesians 4:22-24 - that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 5:8 - For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of light.

Colossians 2:6 - As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. 

I John 1:6 - If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

I John 2:15-16 - Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world.

Matthew 7:21 - Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

James 2:19 - You believe that there is one God.  You do well.  Even the demons believe - and tremble!

I could go on and on but I want to leave something for you to study on your own!  What I have found is, if a person truly turns from their sin and trusts in Jesus Christ for salvation, then there will be change.  The Bible promises it.  I have concluded that it is not for me to say whether a person living in darkness is a backslidden Christian or has never truly repented.  Our works are not what saves us, but the Bible is clear that they are evidence of our salvation.  Because God has given us as Christians the responsibility to be a witness to reach out to a lost and dying world, then I will assume that people that PRACTICE carnality are not in Christ based on what I see in scriptures.  The bottom line is, God isn't going to force Himself on you.  He gives you a choice to come to Him or not.  If you are tired of living in darkness and are ready to come to Christ, then call out to Him in faith and repent of your sins.  Turn your life over to Jesus Christ today.  If you have given your life to Christ but have returned to a life in darkness, He's still here for you just waiting for His prodigal to return.  I love Romans 8:38-39..."For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  I do believe it's possible to be truly saved and backslide.  I also believe it's possible to think that a prayer saved you and you never really were saved.  But I KNOW that I know that when you have a heart change, and you allow Jesus Christ to come into your life, NOTHING can ever take that away, not even your own sin.  Only you can look deep into your heart and give an honest answer to the question of your spiritual security.  My sins have been covered by the blood of Christ.  I have turned from my sin and am trusting in Christ alone for my salvation.  How about you?!