There was a man who has never entered a church building. He drinks alcohol with every meal. He has representations of false gods on his wall and believes various superstitions.
He struggles with pride, treats his wife bitterly, and is very materialistic.
There is another man who gathers regularly with other believers, prays multiple times every day, loves his wife, and spends most of his time and money in pursuit of spiritual things.
Which one is the Christian?
Would you be shocked to discover it was the first man?
“But!” you say, “A Christian wouldn’t do that!”
Salvation is Belief not Behavior
Being a saved person and a saint of God is not a product of a person’s lifestyle. In fact, salvation is not a product of any effort of your own. It is what God performs upon you through Christ’s finished work.
Since Christ did every necessary work for the salvation of your soul, it is free. There is nothing else required for you to be a saint of God. Christ is your righteousness.
A saved servant of God should not live the lifestyle of the first man, but the first case describes a man who heard the gospel from a stranger just two days ago and has trusted that Christ did every necessary work for his salvation.
There is no meeting for Christians nearby for this man, and he has only been able to read in his Bible to Genesis 34 in the past two days. He knows a few saved people, but they live a wretched lifestyle and justify their sins by their liberty in Christ.
You say, “A Christian wouldn’t do that!”
But they do, all the time.
Doctrinal Maturity is Needed to Change Behavior
Remember the Corinthians were called saved saints of God by Paul, but they lived the most reprehensible disrespectful lifestyle of any group Paul addresses. Paul calls them babies (1 Cor 3:1). Their position in Christ was right, their behavior was terribly wrong.
What the first man needs, as do all babes, is to mature in the doctrines of grace.
Paul says, the doctrines of grace teach us to live a mature life of godliness, sobriety, and righteousness (Titus 2:12, 2 Tim 3:16).
The effort to walk in right doctrine is not to earn salvation, but for the sake of Christ, the unbeliever, the naysayers, and for the first man who needs a godly example to follow (Phil 3:17).
The second man describes a devout Buddhist. Though outwardly spiritual, he does not believe in any single deity, and believes his neglect of the body is part of the noble pursuit of happiness.
He has no faith in the gospel, and does not think that Jesus is the only way to God. Surprised? Here is more proof that salvation is not a product of behavior but of belief.
His lifestyle also aptly describes false Christians that fill American churches. They meet with other “believers”, offer prayers, tithe, care for other people, and count on their good works to be justified before God.
They are as unsaved as last week’s leftovers, because salvation is not based on the outward appearance but the inward faith. They have no faith in the Christ’s finished work, even though they put enormous effort in pursuing spiritual things (2 Tim 3:7).
These so-called “Christians” participate in ministries all over the country and do not know or believe the gospel of grace of God.
What a Christian Should Do
There are so-called Christians who judge salvation by a person’s lifestyle (Titus 3:5). They are wrong to do so.
There are saved people who justify their own sinful behavior with liberty (1 Cor 6:12, Rom 6:15). They are wrong to do so.
There are “Christians” everywhere who participate in ministries but deny the gospel of the grace of God (2 Cor 11:13). They are wrong to do so.
What’s that you say? “A Christian Wouldn’t Do That”
Find out for yourself. You might be surprised at what some so-called Christians believe.
Do the work of an evangelist. This would be the right thing to do.
“But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.” – 2 Tim 4:5