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Who Truly Is A Christian? (2)

As we press on with our discussion on knowing who truly is a Christian, from last week, we again refer to John 8:31, in which the Lord said to the Jews who believed on Him because of the words which they heard Him speak, If ye continue in My words, then are ye My disciples indeed. This means that you are not a Christian just because you believe in the words of Christ or attend church services regularly; rather, you are a Christian because you put to practice in your life, His words. If you believe the words of Christ, then your belief in His words must of necessity translate into the practice of it. In 2 Corinthians 4:13, Paul, the Apostle, speaking by the Holy Spirit said, according as it is written, I believe, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak. This verse of scripture implies in essence that, your speech and actions must be in accordance with what you believe, otherwise, you are a hypocrite! Merely believing the word of God does not mark you out as a Christian; but living out the word of God on a daily basis, in your daily interactions with people, and in all your endeavours, is what marks you as a Christian.

The Lords statement also implies that the putting to practice of the word of God is not a church-on-Sunday affair, or a once in a while matter, or something that is done when it is convenient; rather, it is something you do at all times. This means that you are to keep on doing the word of God whether it is convenient or not; whether someone is watching you or not; whether you are in church or not! Thus, if you are not continually putting to practice the teachings of Christ in your everyday endeavour, you cannot be a Christian in the real sense of the word.

In addition to continuing in the word of God, in John 8:32, the Lord states that, a Christian will know the truth, and the truth will make him free. A Christian is someone who always seeks to interact with truth. It is as he interacts with truth in an intimate way, that the knowledge of truth sets him free from sin, the flesh, and the world! And the knowledge we are talking about here is not head knowledge, but experiential knowledge. As you cannot know a person very well unless you are constantly interacting with him, so it is with truth: you cannot know truth, unless you are constantly interacting with it; and this is what happens, when you continue in, or, as the New King James Version of the bible puts it, abide in [take up residence or live with] the word of God. If you are a Christian, you know the truth, and, are set free by it! Going to someone for deliverance apart from the word of God, is a sign of ignorance, and reveals a lack of interaction with the word of God; making ones Christianity suspect! Unfortunately, whole ministries have been established on deliverance, not as the bible teaches; but by the laying on of hands, by the bringing of sand from the village, by the bringing of unopened bottled water, by prayer mantles, by the use of old disused coins and cowries, and many other strange actions! But in Proverbs 11:9, the bible says, through knowledge the righteous will be delivered. After a person has been born again, it is expected that he will continue in the word of Godreceiving teachings and living by those teachings with the help of the Holy Spirit. And it is the experiential knowledge resulting from his practice of the word of God that brings him deliverance from anything or anyone that may still want to make a claim to his life.

Moving on, we find in John 8:33-34, an ensuing confrontation between the Jews who had just a few verses before laid a claim to believing in the words of Jesus, and the Lord Jesus Himself. These believing Jews were indignant about Jesus allusion that they were in bondage, and needed to be delivered from it, claiming that as children of Abraham, they are not in bondage to anyone or anything. But the Lords position was that the issue is not about being Abrahams children, but whether or not they are in bondage to sin! He said in verse 34, Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave to sin. Sin, which is transgression against God, is enslaving. Once a person commits any sin, and does not immediately confess it before God, he inadvertently becomes a slave to sin. Such a person will be unable to resist sin from then on, and begins to be led by sin. A serial killer began with the first act of murder which probably tormented him, but then he progressively became numbed to the torment, he killed more people. The same is true of rapists, armed robbers, prostitutes, corrupt officials, and sinning Christians to mention a few. The Good News Bible translation of 1 John 3:6-10 states: So everyone who lives in union with Christ does not continue to sin; but whoever continues to sin has never seen him or known him. Let no one deceive you, my children! Whoever does what is right is righteous, just as Christ is righteous. Whoever continues to sin belongs to the Devil, because the Devil has sinned from the very beginning. The Son of God appeared for this very reason, to destroy what the Devil had done. Those who are children of God do not continue to sin, for God's very nature is in them; and because God is their Father, they cannot continue to sin. Here is the clear difference between God's children and the Devil's children: those who do not do what is right or do not love others are not God's children. The emphasis here is on continuing in sinthe deliberate and blatant acts of disobedience, and of walking contrary to the word of God; not the occasional errors of unintended sins, which must nonetheless be confessed. If a Christian sins unintentionally, which is the only way sin is associated with a Christian, he will have no peace within him; only the nudging of the Holy Spirit, asking him to confess his faults unto God, so that he can receive Gods forgiveness. Anyone who is living a life of sin is clearly not a Christian. It is not possible for a Christian to continually commit sin, as the life of God, Who cannot sin, is in him. Indeed, the distinguishing mark between a child of God, and therefore, a Christian, and a child of the devil, is that the child of God does not and cannot knowingly, wilfully, and, continually, commit and live in sin! Only a person who is not a Christian can knowingly, wilfully, and arrogantly commit sin, and continue in sin! In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, the bible says, Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. The people referred to as engaging in fornication, idolatry, adultery, and so on, are people who do so as a matter of daily life, for they are referred to as fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, and so onit is who they are; and it is what they do continually! Such people are not Christians, for they cannot inherit the kingdom of God; which is the inheritance reserved for Christians only! A deeper study of the various people referred to in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, reveals a shocking truth.
- Fornicators are people who engage in pre-marital sex, and these will include those who prostitute themselves either for money, for career advancement, or for one favour or the other.
- Idolaters are those who engage in the worship or adulation of anything or anyone other than God; be he a man of God, a man of position, a man of wealth, or a spouse; be it a wood carving, money, career, and so on. Idolatry really, is placing anything and anyone above God. So, whilst we may give honour to whom it is due, we do not place such individuals above God!
- Adulterers are those who engage in extra-marital sex, and include those who are divorced and remarried to someone else, and those married persons who look upon someone else with lust.
- The effeminate are those men who dress and act like women; also known as cross-dressers, usually for homosexual encounters.
- Abusers of themselves with mankind are those who are engaged in sexual activities with persons of the same gender: people we call homosexuals, gays, lesbians, or bisexuals. They are collectively known as Sodomites!
- Thieves include those who take what does not belong to them, like government officials who steal from State coffers, or company officials who steal from their organizations, or those so called Christians who do not tithe.
- The covetous are those who always desire to have what others have, and include people who wrongfully accuse others, with a view to occupying their position or for some other advantage, whether or not they eventually occupy their Office.
- Drunkards are those who are involved in drinking alcohol, or taking stimulants and hard drugs, which alter their personality. The bible says in Ephesians 5:18, be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. Rather than engage in drinking alcohol, here referred to as wine, the bible encourages us to be filled with the Holy Spirit. There are many who have tried to convince themselves that there is nothing wrong with drinking alcohol; well, the bible says that there is something wrong with it (and for a good reason)those who engage therein will not inherit the kingdom of God!
- Revilers are people who are abusive and those who scoff at the things of God (that is, they believe that the things of God do not require the kind of attention it is being given). They also include scorners (these are people who make fun of the things of God, or people who jest about Godand there is a lot of that going on in many churches today, where comedians mount pulpits and make fun of God and the things of God).
- Extortioners are people who take what belongs to others by force, and they would include, policemen who insist on payment for bail, when it is clearly written on the bail paper that you dont pay for bail; customs officers who make life difficult for shippers, unless they pay a bribe; immigrations officers who make demands for something for the boys at airports; etc.

That these unrighteous acts are committed by unrighteous people is bad enough; but that they are also engaged in by some people, who attend church every Sunday; who regularly attend bible study; who are involved in church work, including some who preach the gospel, is indeed terrible and horrifying! Can such people really be Christians? In verse 11 of 1 Corinthians 6, the bible says, And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God implying that when you were not a Christian, you may have engaged in such unrighteous acts, but now that you have been washed, sanctified, and justified, in the name of Jesus and by the Holy Spirit, all these unrighteous acts should be, and indeed, are in the past! This is the good news about the Christian faith! Once you are born again through Christ, you become a new person; your past is completely wiped away! It is therefore sad and even embarrassing, to find someone who had been washed from such unrighteous acts, set apart for Gods use, and treated by God as though he had never sinned before, to be again engaged in them. Of such the bible tells us in 2 Peter 2:22, it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. Being a Christian means continually putting to practice the word of God and living as God expects of us. It means not going back to the life of sin; neither going back to live as we once did. Can you imagine having to eat your own vomit? Can you imagine picking up boy from the streets, bathing him, clothing him, feeding him, and giving him a home in a mansion, with everything at his disposal; and yet that boy prefers to return to the streets and its filthy lifestyle? We would say that it is obvious that the boy is more of a street boy than a tameable boy! So is anyone who has been washed from the filth of sin, but who prefers rather to engage in unrighteous acts continuallyhe is not a Christian!

Friend, while the Christianity enables a filthy sinner who acknowledges his sins and sinfulness before God, to be washed from sin, and set apart for use by God; it does not encourage, in any form or shape, a person whose sins has been washed away by the blood of Jesus to return to a life of sin. Be that as it may, there is a provision for a person who has backslidden from the Christian faith to return to God and be washed again. And if this applies to you, you can be washed, sanctified, and justified this instant, if only you would admit your sinfulness, and express your desire for God to come and take away sin from your life. Merely attending church, singing in the Choir, or doing one thing or another in the house of God does not cleanse youonly the blood of Jesus, which was shed at Calvary, does the cleansing. And after the cleansing, the ability to live above sin, as God expects, is supplied through the Holy Spirit. Turn now from your unrighteous lifestyle; turn to God in repentance, and you will be cleansed forthwith from sin, and empowered to live righteously henceforth, as all Christians do!

Let us pray.