“Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – John 14:6
Because of Adam’s sin, every human being is born in sin. We all have a carnal, self-centered nature that has no desire to live righteously. Jesus came to die on the cross to blot out Satan’s legal charges against us. Then God gave us a share in the very life of Christ. He forgave all our sins by nailing them to Christ's cross. In this way God took away Satan's power to accuse us of our past sins, and at the same time He openly displayed to the whole world Christ's triumph at Calvary (Colossians 2:13-15).
One of Satan’s slickest tricks is to use his lie of condemnation to defeat us. God does not condemn us. He convicts us. Condemnation brings shame with no way out; but conviction brings guilt with a desire for repentance. Repentance means to turn away from sin toward the righteousness of God. Some people feel conviction and pray for salvation, but they continue to live in worldly pursuits and willful sin. Some even get more sinful in their thoughts and actions over the years. These people are not born again and they have a false hope of eternal salvation (Matthew 7:21-23).
Even though they responded to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they never fully surrendered their will to God, nor did they enter into a personal relationship with our holy God. Their heart never changed. It is still deceitful and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). They may even talk to God, read their Bible, attend church and serve in a ministry (Romans 3:21-22). The truth, however, is that they never totally surrendered their life to God or turned away from all of their sin. Even though they are doing good works, their spirit is still dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). They perform works of righteousness through self-effort instead of by the Spirit of God (Titus 3:5; 2 Timothy 1:9).
The Holy Spirit never breathed the breath of life into them and their spirit remains dead in sin (Job 32:8). They prayed a vain prayer and they gave God empty promises rather than authentic devotion. They still live for their own pleasure and give God a tip of their time and resources, rather than their full dedication. We can live our whole life thinking that we are going to heaven, when in the end, Jesus will tell us, “Depart from me, for I never knew you!” (Matthew 7:23).
So, how do we know if we are truly saved from hell and going to heaven? Take the Bible’s spiritual test to see if you really are a Christian. Do you feel Christ's presence and power growing within you more and more? Are you just pretending to be a Christian, when actually deep inside of you it is evident that you are just playing a game? (2 Corinthians 13:5-6; Lamentations 3:40-42). Do you feel like all your filthiness is washed away, or do you still regularly get sullied by sin? Has God given you a new heart, or do you still have the same cold, dead heart you always had? Is the Spirit of God within you, convicting you of sin and leading you throughout the day, or can you sin without conviction? Do you obey all of God’s Word, or do you pick and choose only parts of it that what you want to believe and follow? (Ezek 36:25-27).
We serve a Holy God who wants a holy people (1 Peter 1:16). We come to know Christ only through repenting from all of our willful sin and completely surrendering our life to Him. We allow God’s Spirit to convert our sinful nature to a spiritual one and to develop His spiritual fruit in us (Galatians 5:22-23). The process of God’s Spirit working holiness into our lives is called Sanctification. It takes a lifetime to accomplish this fully, but we can see the results a little more each day.
If we are living for God through our own effort, we are just self-righteous individuals who are trying in our own vain exploits to live a Christian life. If we are not washed clean by the blood of the Lamb, and do not have a new heart and righteous desires, we are actually not saved from hell and we are not going to heaven. We are not born again. So what do we do now? Truly repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Savior and your Lord. Then fully surrender your life to Him and walk in His ways.
As you do this, the peace of God will rule in your heart. You will no longer be a stanger and foreigner but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household (Ephesians 2:19). You will have a heart full of gratitude and joy, and the word of Christ will dwell in you richly. You will sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with your whole heart, not just part of it. Eventually, you will also teach and admonish others with His wisdom. Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, you will do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God our Father (Colossians 3:15-18).
Prayer:Father God, if I am not truly born again, if I have a false hope of going to heaven when I die, please convict me right now and lead me to true repentance. Give me Your Spirit to lead me into all truth and teach me Your ways. Help me to be holy, even as You are holy (1 Peter 1:16).
Thought for the Day:
“If in this life only, we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most miserable."
- 1 Corinthians 15: 19