There is a sentiment among Christians that I must confess disturbs me to my core. I have heard this sentiment several times around forms and comments that I am compelled to speak about here. It is the idea, that unbelievers must "change or give up their lifestyle" to be saved.
"They don't want to give up their lifestyle"
Does this statement sound familiar to you? Maybe you have stated it yourself. I have heard statements of this sentiment repeatedly. It has never sat well with me.
This sentiment not only conveys an attitude of arrogance towards the unbelieving society, but shows a profound lack of understanding of what exactly the Gospel entails.
Today's Christian society is so upside down and inside out with pseudo doctrines and sayings that the Gospel has become something un-relatable to the unbelieving society. Because it is un-relatable, it never been easier to brush aside the message of grace as it presented, distorted and full of condemnation. It is distorted by the belief that Christians think they must live "morally" first before they can be saved. It is distorted by the pride that condemns those who live "inappropriately". By and by, we get unbelievers who despise the very (true) nature of Christianity, and in turn Christ himself. Christianity as it is today, divided and confused, is so tangled up with various worship, behaviors and speech of legalism, that it has become extremely difficult for those who are apart of the culture as it is today, to accept the gospel of grace as they know it to mean (by the truth of scripture). They have lost touch with reality in this sense. Condemning the lost for being lost, they present themselves as wholesome and pure. They present themselves "humble" yet, still condemning. Ignoring the basic principles of Christ. Christ came not to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. Yes, I've heard John 3:16 quoted more times than I can count, but John 3:17 is completely ignored, as Christians speak negatively against the unbelieving society they have never tried to minister to!
Christianity no longer looks like a model of grace, love and liberty. It has become a model of bondage, condemnation and legalism. I must confess, when I read comments from various blogs such as the one stated above, they do not surprise me, but truly... it makes me sick to my stomach. Such statements fly in the face of the basic principles of the Gospel.
1. The clear purpose Christ was the salvation of man, not the condemnation of man, as stated in John 3:17. I've said it several times and I'll say it until my last breath. Christ never condemned a sinner for being a sinner (demonstrated in various places in the Word) BUT He reacted HARSHLY towards hypocritical behavior in handling the Word of God. (Pharisees and Church, Revelation 2 & 3) If we, as a believing society, do not recognize this act of Christ's, we have every reason to expect His condemnation towards us.
2. There is a lie that needs exposing, NO amount of Bible studying, prayer, meditation, church attendance, counseling etc. etc. etc. will EVER save anyone. The single most life altering thing is belief in Him period. Check this out...it can't be a belief that acknowledges His existence, it clearly explains in James 2:19 that the "devils believe and tremble". So what then, is the difference between your professed belief and theirs (devils)? Hopefully, you'll have a lot more love, honor and respect that comes along with your belief than theirs! So what then, does it mean to "believe" Him. I don't believe that is is that difficult to understand, I just believe that it is difficult for a Christian with a legalistic mind set to apply, thereby, they don't really believe HIM, as it states in Titus 1:16, in "works they deny him". Let me expound a bit further the concept of "belief" unto salvation... Any of you who has a loving relationship with another can easily understand "belief unto salvation". If your spouse, parent, sister, brother etc. tells or promises you that they will do something specific for you, let's say go to the store to get eggs for a cake you plan to make, would you not believe them? Would you not wait upon them to provide and deliver upon their promises? Would you not trust them, because you know them? Because you have lived with them so long?? Many of those trapped in the lies of legalism, claim belief in the Lord, but we don't believe He will deliver those promised "eggs". Many of those trapped in legalism, do not wait upon Him to deliver those eggs. They run around the kitchen... recipe in hand trying in vain to make that cake without eggs. Trapped in legalism, they do not believe, because they do not know Him. It is by this very reason, they condemn the unbelieving society.
3. God is a spirit, therefore, He must be worshipped in Spirit. By default, we cannot... absolutely can not worship Him, know Him, understand Him and recognize Him under our OWN power.
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (This scripture alone strikes a blow against "dos and don'ts under our own power)
17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law" -- Galatians 5:16-18
Only by BELIEF, and TRUST do we receive HIS spirit to do all of these things, therefore, we MUST walk, live, and focus in SPIRIT, for the time has come that those must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. The danger of legalism, do's and don'ts, is that, it focuses on the physical. It focuses on sins, it creates a physical focus of a spiritual issue that has been taken care of at the cross. If you do not trust Him as simply as you would your own loved ones, then the Spirit of truth eludes you. If you are not walking after the spirit as exhorted by Paul in Romans 8, then all the studying, praying, counseling, church attending, pill-popping, group meetings in the world, cannot and will not help you. It may make you feel better for a while, but you will find yourself in the same vicious cycle once again. Tortured by the devil, who will replay your sins and guilt before you like a broken record, until you have taken all leave of any resemblance of trust, faith and belief in Him, the Savior of ALL in ALL things.
It Begins With Us...
If we as a believing society DO understand these basics then we KNOW and TRUST that any confessed/professed belief of Christ Jesus can only be determined valid in the eyes of God. We KNOW and TRUST that the Holy Spirit of promise is a LIFE altering force, that can change a hardcore such as the apostle Paul into a soul-saving entity! If we DO understand this and accept this, we most certainly do not need to be intimidated by an unbeliever's lifestyle. We do not need to... or wish to... condemn the unbeliever's way of life. Instead, we EXCLAIM and PROCLAIM the name of JESUS! The HOPE and the LOVE of Christ that He loves them as they are! We become fishers of men, and not bearers of bonds!
"For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?" --1 Peter 4:17
What SHALL the end of them be indeed???