Isaiah 29:13 “Therefore the Lord said: “These people draw near to Me with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is but rules taught by men.”
How does someone reject Christ if they don’t know Him?
If there is one thing I’ve learned from those who live their lives by the world’s standards, they really have no idea what they are missing.
In like manner, the majority of people I know that have abstained from trusting in Christ, never really understood who He is. They think they know about Jesus but their knowledge is based off a perception that came by way of others experiences. They may have known someone who claimed to be a believer, heard how Jesus died for them on a cross, or they may have opened a Bible and read parts of the gospels and think that is all they need to know. Their superficial knowledge of Christ was limited by someone elses portrayal of Christ or b their own limited understanding.
For those who truly know Jesus, who have fellowship with His Spirit, who walk with Him day by day and listen to His instruction, the experience and knowledge of the Lord is far different.
For those who lack salvation by grace, the conundrum of where they stand can be difficult to ascertain.
Some people claim to know Christ and they do just enough to convince others that they are legit. They might occasionally go to church and when they do they wear their Sunday best, smiling and shaking people’s hands while looking the part, but all the while their hearts are far from God. Isaiah described these people through the condemnation by which the Lord revealed to him—“they honor me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me”.
When I was a young man our church had an overflow parking area on the side of the church. Off the sanctuary was a door in the back that people would use to quietly sneak into the service when late, avoiding the greeters in the foyer and assuming their seats in the back without much interruption. What I found troubling about the people who consistently entered in this manner was they would exit in like fashion. As the final music would play and the conclusion of the service was nearing its end, they would quietly slip out the back in like manner of how they entered, never having identified themselves to another.
I used to refer to these people as “back door christians“.
The term for christian was more rhetorical in nature, I don’t know how someone who claims to be part of the body of Christ can live like they are isolated from the body.
Do you know what happens if we lose a part of our bodies?
Without a connection to the body, there is nothing to sustain the requirements for life.
How far from Christ is the person who maintains a proximity to God and yet fails to partake of Him?
Psalm 17:1-5 “Hear a just cause, O Lord,
Attend to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.
You have tested my heart;
You have visited me in the night;
You have tried me and have found nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
Concerning the works of men,
By the word of Your lips,
I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.
Uphold my steps in Your paths,
That my footsteps may not slip.”
David understood that a man who pretends to honor God on the surface but not in the heart is deceitful in nature.
It’s one thing to be a seeker, drawing near in the assembly of the righteous to discover something you do not know. It’s another thing to be a pretender, claiming allegiance to the throne of God while living like His enemy.
Front Door Believers
John 4:23-24 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Being the church is more than showing up to a Sunday service, listening to a message, maybe quietly singing along and then leaving. The church of God is comprised not of a particular group or building, it is a collective of people who have given their life to Christ in service for His glory. It is individuals apart from any particular denomination who love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength and they are world wide.
To those who have been filled with the love of God, the perspective changes when it comes to interacting with a body of believers.
- A love for one another is inseparable—John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
- Worship at church is personal and it is holy—John 4:23 “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.”
- The Word of God is like water to the soul—Colossians 1:9-10 “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God”
You see, coming to church is not a chore to those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb—it is a privilege.
Being a part of a body of Christ is more than filling a pew, it is becoming a part of a people who are united in one Spirit, walking in power, and strengthening one another in love and good deeds.
The Holy Spirit manifests His presence in people unique to how they were created. Your personality and attributes don’t get tossed out when the Lord abides, they get amplified. The Lord didn’t ask the disciples to become something they were not, He only supplied them with the power necessary to fulfill His purposes in them.
Psalm 68:35 “O God, You are awesome in Your sanctuary; the God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to His people. Blessed be God!”
How can you know your position in Christ?
When the Lord tests someone, He tests their hearts and their minds. (Psalm 26:2)
If we would apply the same test to ourselves, we would measure ourselves against God’s standard and see how we fair.
When I was a kid my parents enrolled me in an early form of christian education called the Accelerated Christian Education system or ACE for short. These groundbreaking christian schools allowed for a low cost approach to educating kids from a godly perspective and it swept the nation in the late 1970’s and early 80’s. Part of the low cost approach were the self-learning modules the kids would work through and then check at the end of the day. Within each module or ‘pace’, there were self-tests to help gauge the development of the kids learning. We would take our pace module up to a central area and open the test booklet and correct our answers. We were then encouraged to go back through the module section and find where we missed the information so then we could move on.
The Answers to God’s test is the Word of God.
If you examine your life honestly to God’s moral law, you will quickly discover if your life has been just a lie or not.
Galatians 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, 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.”
I underlined the end of this scripture to point out a key phrase—there is a difference between stumbling into sin, and practicing sin. A believer can stumble but he can never continue to practice sin, the Spirit of God prohibits it in the life of a believer.
Those who practice sin, continue in sin without the conviction of the Holy Spirit because He does not indwell within them.
Galatians 5:22-24 “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.”
Those who live by the Spirit of God, they are sons and daughters of God. They reflect the attributes of the Spirit of God who dwells within them.
Not all believers manifest these qualities all the time, the sinful nature is constantly wrestling against the Spirit of God. A tell tale sign of spiritual maturity is the one who does manifest these qualities more consistently and in greater portion than others.
Personally, I am striving to exhibit these qualities in myself everyday.
What’s your position? Are you a back-door christian who thinks that proximity to a church will somehow save your soul? Or, are you real about your faith and have made Christ the priority in every aspect of your life?
The worst thing you could do is lie to yourself about your faith, the shocking reality of standing before Christ and Him telling you He never knew you would be a load too great to bear.
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”
Do God’s will—humble yourself, repent of your sin, and then follow Him. There is more life in that position than you’ve ever known.