Many people they say they believe in the Bible and what Jesus did on the cross. I know people who say this and yet they are (knowingly) outwardly living in sin and ignoring it. But yet they believe in the Bible and that Jesus died on the cross to cover our sins. So then I wonder what does it REALLY mean to believe? How do you know you really believe?
There are several things here that need to be addressed. First of all, and I’ll come back to this, it’s easy for us to know individually. The hard part of this of course, is if someone is deceived. The Bible does speak about people who thought they were fine, but in fact were not. The famous Matthew 7:23 (NASB) tells us about this when Jesus said, “I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”
Really, this scripture is key to understanding what’s going on here. We must remember, everything comes down to the heart of a person. Ask ten different people what that means and you’ll probably get ten different answers. The only way we can sort this out is not just reading a scripture or two, but through study of the scripture, to understand the heart of God in it. People often deceive themselves by reading scripture to figure out what they can get away with and not to get understanding. There are people that only seek God for what He might do for them, never to know Him. There is a key phrase there in that scripture of Matthew and it is, “I never knew you.” What did Jesus mean by this?
This reference isn’t as much about actually knowing (God knows all things), but about us knowing. The idea is that there was not an intimate relationship. The word is sometimes used to also talk about sexual intercourse. Now I’m not trying to be unholy, the idea is being very intimate with a person, one that just anyone wouldn’t know. There are plenty of people that know about Jesus, and think because of this they are good. This is where the hang up comes in.
People talk about having faith but then act opposite of what scripture tells us to do. I am not saying we won’t make mistakes. However, we all know the difference between someone making an honest mistake and someone who just purposes to live wrong. Ultimately, God is judge, but when it comes to hell, I want to be as far from that line as I can. Why? Because I know Jesus.
To intimately know someone is to know their heart. I fell in love with my wife pretty much instantly. I can tell you however, though losing her would have been hard then, it is nothing compared to what it would be today. A person who understands what it means to be born again isn’t just trying to stay out of hell, the real fear is being separate from God. A real believer can’t imagine a worse fate.
I don’t try not to sin just because it’s wrong. I try not to because my sin separates me from God and I can’t barely stand that. See, when you truly know someone you desire to please them. I still have my own desires, but if it comes down to mine or my wife’s, because I know her, I will choose her. God desires that intimacy with each of us.
The problem exists in the gray area. What can you get away with and still be saved? The truth is, I don’t know. I can say according to the Word that person who constantly lives in the gray probably has a good chance of not being with God eternally. How can I say? What would make us think that God wants to have us in a place that we’re trying to skirt around all the time? In other words, if we are always trying to find a way out of holiness why would we think that we would live eternally in the presence of holiness? It’s foolishness.
But this does bring a dilemma, doesn’t it? And that’s because we are asking the wrong questions. We can KNOW salvation as it pertains to us individually by our desire to know and please God. We cannot, however, always know other people’s salvation. I will say this though, that a person who constantly runs towards sin, not fearing His holiness, that persons salvation is questionable. We all struggle, but again, there’s a difference in one who struggles and fails, yet remains repentant, and one who seems not to care at all. Ultimately, the Lord will judge this.
I will tell you as a fact, it is dangerous as a “believer” to justify our sin, when we sin and we constantly try to point to scripture as to why it’s ok. The scripture never teaches us that it’s ok to embrace sin. In fact, exactly the opposite. How can we know sin for sure when there is gray areas? Look at what kind of fruit it produces. Are people in clouding the one partaking bettered by these actions? Do they or others grow closer to God as a result? Or does it do the opposite. Do these actions lead to strife, anger, jealousy, suffering or other works of the flesh or to the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23?
All in all, we cannot know the heart of a man, only the Lord can. We can recognize people that aren’t safe and we should pay attention. We keep a heart tender before Him, and do our best to walk humbly. We allow God to lead us and trust Him to correct us if we are wrong. We can’t always know everyone’s salvation, but we can know ours.