Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me].”
Matthew 16:24 (AMP)
Are you a genuine Christian, or just playing games?
Do you still have one foot in the world?
Are you in rebellion to God and His Word in some areas of your life?
Are you obeying our Most High God at all costs?
This is the message [of God’s promised revelation] which we have heard from Him and now announce to you, that God is Light [He is holy, His message is truthful, He is perfect in righteousness], and in Him there is no darkness at all [no sin, no wickedness, no imperfection]. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness [of sin], we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we [really] walk in the Light [that is, live each and every day in conformity with the precepts of God], as He Himself is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another [He with us, and we with Him], and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin [by erasing the stain of sin, keeping us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].
1 John 1:5-7 (AMP)
Sincere Christians do not continue to live according to their own wills and ignore God’s commandments and directions. They do not continue to intentionally live worldly lives. True Christians do not walk in darkness—they walk in God’s light.
No soldier in active service gets entangled in the [ordinary business] affairs of civilian life; [he avoids them] so that he may please the one who enlisted him to serve.
2 Timothy 2:4 (AMP)
Spiritual warfare is real. Our enemy, Satan, and his evil forces will fight us for the rest of our earthly lives once we make a genuine profession of faith in Jesus Christ, ask God to forgive our sins in Jesus’ name, and repent by changing our behavior to line up with the Bible. We must know which side we are on in this unending warfare. If we are children of God, we must be on the side of His kingdom and stay there. We cannot be victorious in spiritual battles if we are constantly switching back and forth between God’s kingdom and the kingdom of darkness!
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places.
Ephesians 6:12 (AMP)
Everything we do either pleases and honors Almighty God, or it pleases and honors the devil. Our actions must match our words. Our testimonies of being followers of Jesus must be demonstrated by our obedience to God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not practice what I tell you? Everyone who comes to Me and listens to My words and obeys them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a [far-sighted, practical, and sensible] man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and yet could not shake it, because it had been securely built and founded on the rock.”
Luke 6:46-48 (AMP)
We will be judged by our Most High God based on the sincerity of our commitments to Him. He knows our hearts and every thought we entertain. God knows the motives for our actions and whether or not we are just pretending to be Christians, but in reality are wolves in sheep’s clothing. Our Holy and Just God will not welcome phonies into His kingdom to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.
All the nations will be gathered before Him [for judgment]; and He will separate them from one another, as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right [the place of honor], and the goats on His left [the place of rejection]. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father [you favored of God, appointed to eternal salvation], inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’
“Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Leave Me, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels (demons);’
“Then these [unbelieving people] will go away into eternal (unending) punishment, but those who are righteous and in right standing with God [will go, by His remarkable grace] into eternal (unending) life.”
Matthew 25:32-34; 41; 46 (AMP)
We cannot afford to be Christians in name only, nor should we ever desire to live a life that deceives others. That way of life leads straight to Hell. Jesus made this very clear in the following verses.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them publicly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me [you are banished from My presence], you who act wickedly [disregarding My commands].’
Matthew 7:21-23 (AMP)
If we say that we believe in God—and that Jesus Christ is God’s Son—and we have consecrated our lives to the Lord, we must act like it. Even the demons believe in God, and Satan witnessed the birth, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The devil knows the truth about Jesus, but he is still the most evil being around. He inspires people to do wicked things. However, every human being has a free will and can choose to do good or evil. Genuine Christians are not perfect, but they do their best to live according to God’s will and not their own.
But someone may say, “You [claim to] have faith and I have [good] works; show me your [alleged] faith without the works [if you can], and I will show you my faith by my works [that is, by what I do].” You believe that God is one; you do well [to believe that]. The demons also believe [that], and shudder and bristle [in awe-filled terror—they have seen His wrath]!
James 2:18-19 (AMP)
A person becomes a genuine Christian and part of God’s kingdom when the Holy Spirit draws them, convicts them of their sin and shows them their need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. We either dedicate our lives to our Most High God, or we don’t. There is no middle ground. True conversions to becoming a child of God and following His Son, Jesus Christ, happen one time. Genuine believers will never need to “rededicate” their lives to the Lord, because they did that once and for all time at some point, and they never looked back.
Jesus answered, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot [ever] enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh [the physical is merely physical], and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be surprised that I have told you, ‘You must be born again [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified].’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it is coming from and where it is going; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
John 3:5-8 (AMP)
Once a sincere confession of faith and acceptance of Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior occurs, there is no turning back. From that point on, our whole perspective and focus changes to line up with God’s Word and His will. People who respond to altar calls, or invitations to accept Jesus, over and over have never before sincerely become born-again Christians. During difficult and frightening times, people may turn to God, but once the crisis is over, they often return to their wicked, worldly ways. Jesus taught about that in Matthew 13:18-23. Steadfast faith only happens if someone is truly born again.
“Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom [regarding salvation] and does not understand and grasp it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and at once welcomes it with joy; yet he has no [substantial] root in himself, but is only temporary, and when pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles and falls away [abandoning the One who is the source of salvation]. And the one on whom seed was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the worries and distractions of the world and the deceitfulness [the superficial pleasures and delight] of riches choke the word, and it yields no fruit. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands and grasps it; he indeed bears fruit and yields, some a hundred times [as much as was sown], some sixty [times as much], and some thirty.”
Matthew 13:18-23 (AMP)
It is time for pseudo Christians, wolves in sheep’s clothing, to be revealed for who they really are and, if at all possible, for genuine followers of Jesus to separate from those people who are just playing games. The sin in the lives of pseudo Christians will have a negative effect on God’s children if they allow those wolves in sheep’s clothing to influence their hearts and spirits—knowingly or unknowingly. Paul warned the Galatians about this peril in the following Scriptures.
You were running [the race] well; who has interfered and prevented you from obeying the truth? This [deceptive] persuasion is not from Him who called you [to freedom in Christ]. A little leaven [a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers] leavens the whole batch [it perverts the concept of faith and misleads the church].
Galatians 5:7-9 (AMP)
Only godly sorrow for sin will result in a true born-again experience in someone’s life. There is no fake it until you make it in God’s kingdom. We are either sold out for the Lord, or we are on our way to Hell.
For [godly] sorrow that is in accord with the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but worldly sorrow [the hopeless sorrow of those who do not believe] produces death.
2 Corinthians 7:10 (AMP)
Living for—and obeying—our Most High God in every area of our lives is the only way to truly honor Him. Asking Him for forgiveness when we miss that goal and sincerely repenting by intentionally changing our behavior to be God-honoring will be a natural response for any genuine, born-again Christian. Only genuine, born-again Christians can receive the healing and freedom offered by our Most High God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus came to heal the brokenhearted and to proclaim liberty to the captives (Luke 4:18, NKJV), but we must be sincerely following Jesus and walking in God’s light to receive the peace and joy produced by those incredible gifts!