Commentary By: Gordon King
What makes some people do horrible things, what makes them believe that they are doing good when it is actually evil?
There are many people in this world who proclaim to be doing good works, in fact if you look at the things that they do they appear as good. Many even proclaim to be believers yet they live a sinful lifestyle. But God tells us that our good works are as filthy rags to Him.
“But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.“
Our righteousnesses or our righteous acts, our good works, are as filthy rags to God. But doesn’t this contradict the fact that as children of God we are to perform good works? How could they then be filthy rags to God?!
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Our sin separates us from God, and when we perform good works from our own righteousness then they are as filthy rags, they are full of sin! Even Christians can do things which are sinful and we all do, we can perform good works from our own righteousness and not from the Lord’s, and they are as filthy rags. But when we are born-again and perform good works in the name of Christ they are “good works” for the Lord. When unbelievers perform good works they are always as filthy rags to God. We must always remember that we are not saved by our good works but by the grace of God Almighty! Our good works for the Lord are a sign of our salvation.
So how can we accurately discern if a person is actually a true believer in Christ? Have you ever seen an unbeliever doing good things such as helping other people, feeding the homeless, comforting the hurting? I have, and they look a lot like the fruit of the spirit.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
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. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ “
This can be very deceiving and it’s often difficult to know if a person is actually saved or not saved. Even though a person says that he or she is born-again that doesn’t mean that they actually are. Many will come professing to be a Christian, they shall perform righteous acts, they will appear to be saved. Yet, many will live a sinful lifestyle contrary to the teachings of scripture, and many may profess things which are contrary to the teachings of the bible. However, could it also be that some of them are saved but prodigals?
This is where I have difficulty understanding and discerning who is saved and who isn’t, for I myself was a prodigal son. I was born-again but living in sin. Perhaps the difference was that I knew that I was living in sin, yet I would not pronounce that it wasn’t sin, I knew that it was sin! There are many people who profess to be Christians yet they are living in sin, does this automatically mean that they are not saved?
These are the times that we are living in, times when we can be easily deceived. Times when wolves are dressed in sheep’s clothing, when they proclaim to be children of God yet inside are ravenous wolves!
Sometimes it’s very easy for me to discern if a person is saved or not, yet at other times it is very difficult. I can see them doing good works, yet I also see them living a sinful lifestyle, this does not automatically mean that they are not saved, but perhaps they have been led astray as I was.
Some believers think that if you live a sinful lifestyle that there is no way you could be born-again, yet I disagree! Some also believe that you can lose your salvation, I also wholeheartedly disagree!!!
As believers in Jesus Christ we can be led astray, we can be led to believe lies, and we can live in sin if we allow ourselves to. All of us sin, yes even Christians! None of us are immune from sinning, none of us are yet perfect, no not one. Can a Christian live a sinful lifestyle? Yes, of course. If a Christian lives a sinful lifestyle does that mean that he or she is no longer saved, has he or she lost their salvation? No! We all battle between the flesh and the spirit, as believers we also battle against evil spirits.
We are told in scripture that once we are saved we are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.“
We have been sealed as children of God, sealed until our redemption in Christ. Who or what therefore can break that seal? No one or nothing! If God sealed us then nothing or no one can break that seal!
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.“
Jesus Himself said that He shall lose none that the Father has given to Him.
“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.“
All that the Father gives to Jesus and who come to Him will He by no means be cast out! He shall lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day, raise us up on the last day. Everyone who sees the Son and believes will have everlasting life! Everlasting means everlasting, forever, not until you sin again, if it did none of us would ever be saved in the first place.
Once we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior we have been given eternal life, meaning that we have it already. Eternal means eternal, it doesn’t mean until you live a sinful lifestyle, until you sin really bad, until you sin 100 or 1000 times, it means forever! Jesus came and died on the cross for our sins before we were even born, he died for all of our sins, not just the ones we committed before we were saved. Does this then mean that we should go on sinning? No, of course not! We are to allow the Holy Spirit within us to lead and guide us into all righteousness, we are to put God first in all things!
All of us can and do sin, if you say that you don’t then you are a liar and make God out to be a liar! None of us are perfect but God is. We can be led astray and many are. We can be deceived if we allow ourselves to be. We can live in sin if we choose, we can walk away from God but He will never leave us nor forsake us.
God punishes those who do not believe, but He does not punish His children, yet He does discipline us. We all will pay the consequences of our actions, and as children of God if we live in sin then God will discipline us, you can count on it!
We don’t always know if a person who claims to be a believer actually is or not. But I suppose that it doesn’t really matter if we do or not, God does! I struggle with this question everyday, I don’t have all of the answers. But I pray to the good Lord to give me wisdom, discernment, and understanding. I pray for those that are lost, and those that claim to be saved yet are living in sin, I pray for the Lord to open their eyes and their hearts to the truth, for Him to soften their hearts, to bring them to Him in salvation.
One last note, I know that in order to be saved, in order to be born-again a person must acknowledge their sin, but they must also repent of it! So many people I believe do acknowledge their sin but don’t repent of it. We must repent of our sins to God, we must have a change of heart regarding our sin, we must choose to turn from it before we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, if not then are we truly saved? I don’t believe so. It’s not merely enough to say that you believe that Jesus Christ is God in your heart, but to have a change of heart first.
‘There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” ‘
Jesus said two times in Luke 13:1-5 that unless you repent you will perish.
2 Peter 3:9
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.“
God’s will is for all to come to repentance.
God is a holy God, He is Almighty, Creator of the entire universe and all that it contains, and it is ever-expanding as I write this post! He is love, He is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. But He is also a jealous God, He is a God to be feared, to have reverence and awe for. As His little tiny creations made from the dust of the earth, a very small planet in one galaxy among billions or even trillions of other galaxies, we must fear God with all humility and respect.
We don’t know everything nor can we, the depths of God are unfathomable, we could search His ways for eternity and still not know them all. As Christians we are continually be searching God out, learning more and more about His ways, about who He is, about who we are in Him.
God bless my friends! Maranatha!