93. Why Don’t Christians Care More About Their Sins?

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Andy received a Facebook message from a follower of his Contradict – They Can’t All Be True page that asked his thoughts on how to respond to the question, “Why Don’t Christians Care More About their Sins?”  This episode of Reconnect gives a lengthy response to this question, weaving in various Youtube videos that feature Alistair Begg, R.C. Sproul, and Paul Washer.

Show Links

“Why Don’t Christians Care That They Sin?” Video – R.C. Sproul and Alistair Begg

“Sensitive to Sin?” Video – Paul Washer

What is False Conversion?” Blog – Wrasman

You shall recognize them by their fruits – Judging fellow Christians.

“Every tree that does not bear fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” – Matthew 7:19-20

I have seen this passage used a lot lately for the purpose of spotting “false converts,” or people who claim to be Christian, but they really are not. The reason we can know they are not Christians according to these posts, articles, and videos is that they are not doing things that TRUE Christians would do, or they are doing the unthinkable actions that TRUE Christians would NEVER do. Such examples of these actions that a TRUE Christian would never perform are those of a husband beating his wife habitually, living in a state of adultery, or denying the existence of God.

The numbers from XXX Church for Christian involvement in pornography consumption don’t look good for men, or women, who claim to be Christians, and they look just as bad for the pastors in the Church – if not worse than for the laity. Does this mean that the bulk of Christians in America are false converts, or think they are saved when they are not, because many are hooked on pornography?

Do you know someone who lives with their fiancé, or girlfriend or boyfriend, who is likely having sexual intercourse or other sexual behavior with their live-in roommate of the opposite sex, and yet, they profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior? Do you know anyone who isn’t living with their significant other, but they are openly having sexual intercourse together, while confessing that Jesus is Lord and Savior? Or… what about this… how many Christian couples do you think are having sex outside of marriage, yet no one knows about it, but God?

When you see these brothers and sisters in Christ in visible sin, do you look at them and think, there is NO WAY that person is a true believer? Do you approach them and say, “How can you call yourself a Christian when you (blank), (blank), and (blank)?” Do you approach them and say, “You are not truly repentant. If you were, you wouldn’t do these things. Therefore you must stop what you are doing and ask Jesus to forgive you, and turn from sin, and NEVER do it again.” Do you look at them and say, “Well they think they have repented, think they believe, think they have surrendered their all to God, but they haven’t. They claim to know Christ, but they are so far from him in his actions. They are just pretending to be a Christian.”

Let me ask you? How many people do you know who profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior, yet they regularly, daily, commit adultery, lie, sin in their anger, hold some sort of hatred in your heart, steal, slander their neighbor, have idols in their lives, covet, and what have you?

Now let me turn it to you. Do you do these things, daily? Do you ever put anything or anyone above Christ in your life? Do you struggle with road rage? Do you get extremely angry and start cursing liberals when you watch FOX News? Do you struggle with pride? Do you say little white lies? Do you go a whole day, a single hour, without a sinful thought, action, or word? Don’t forget, sins are not just acts of commission, but also omission – not doing the things that you should. James 2:10 says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”

This should really make us slow to judge someone who claims to be in Christ to be a person who is NOT in Christ. If we judge someone else to not be in Christ based on visible sin in their lives, then how are we different? If we have kept all of the Law of God but have stumbled in one aspect, we are guilty of breaking it ALL. So what then… would we not be saved? Scripture NEVER says, “Once you have committed X amount of sin, you are no longer a Christian, you are no longer saved.”

Yet, it says that we will recognize them by their fruits! So some in the Church tend to judge other believers and say that certain persons can’t be a TRUE Christian, because they have done (blank), (blank), or (blank). This is problematic because we must remember that we TOO have done (blank), (blank), or (blank), just maybe not to the same degree, but that still makes us breakers of God’s Law, which means we deserve his eternal wrath. This is also problematic because we cannot see into the person’s heart. Is the person resisting the sin? Is the person contrite? Is the person inwardly begging Christ to forgive them? Is the person crying out – Lord help I don’t want to do this, and he manages to abstain for a time, but fails once again to meet God’s standard or righteousness? That would be Paul’s dilemma in Romans 7:15-25. The person might be struggling in such away, which would be a sign that the Spirit is active and repentance is present! You don’t know it, and I don’t know it, unless we approach them in love with God’s Word and ask.

When we approach a fellow human being, who confesses Christ as his Lord and Savior, we should follow what Christ told us in Matthew 7, the chapter that tells us “thus we shall recognize them by their fruits.” In that chapter, Jesus tells us “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Jesus then tells us, “Do not give dogs what is holy and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” In other words, don’t hypocritically judge other precious believers, who are holy and seen as valuable as pearls, by throwing them out of the Christian assembly to the dogs and swine of the world.

So before calling someone who you see to have visible sin a “false convert” or unbeliever, you must examine yourself first, and approach your fellow believer (who you might think is a non-believer due to his actions) in humility, admitting your own sin, confessing your own sin, and gently showing them the error of their ways. This would be part of the process of “iron sharpening iron” as Proverbs 27:17 mentions, or being a Watchman and warning the wicked of their evil ways (Ezekiel 3:18-19). If you approach a person in this manner and he then denies what he is doing is sinful, and you show him in Scripture where it is sinful, and he still denies it as being sinful, it’s time to approach him with another brother, and if he still denies you and the Word of God that you bring that reveals his actions to be sinful, you then bring that person to the whole assembly of the Church, and if the person still denies God’s Word at that point, then we can count the person as LOST, NOT SAVED. I am getting that process of a solo approach, tag-team approach, and then congregant approach from Matthew 18:15-20. That process is for if someone sins against you personally, but I think it can be applied to anyone committing an openly visible sin, because it is harming the witness and image of the Church, and it is hurting his relationship with God. I do believe a person can fall away from the faith, and that would occur when they have rejected the gift of faith and chosen instead to deny Christ and his work to embrace the sin that they love without having to deal with the struggle against that sin any longer.

Now let’s look at King David! Was he a false convert?

David was a man after God’s own heart. (1 Samuel 13:14) Yet… after doing so many great things for the Lord and in the Lord’s name and for the glory of God, David has a string of horrid sin, that involves adultery with the wife of a devoted man of God and one of David’s soldiers. The wife of this other man gets pregnant by David while her husband is out on the battlefield. To cover up the adultery, David has the husband killed on the battlefield. Then he takes the man’s wife as his own to cover up the adultery. (2 Samuel 11) David, a man after God’s own heart, actually did ALL of these things. Was he a “false convert”? Was he not saved because of these things? Was he not fully surrendered and committed to God? Was he not truly repentant? And since he wasn’t fully, truly, actually (blank), (blank), and (blank) was he not a TRUE believer? This is how these “false convert” warnings are initiated against people who confess to be Christians and based on these “false convert” warnings; David wouldn’t be a TRUE believer!

When David is called out by Nathan (2 Samuel 12), Nathan does it by telling David about a very sinful man in the land. Not knowing who this man is David says that man deserves to die! And Nathan tells David, that man is YOU. David then simply says, “I have sinned against the Lord”. And the reply from Nathan is, “The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.” I think David was always in faith through it ALL! Have you not covered up sin? Tried to hide it? Got called out for it, and initially denied it, before finally, confessed your sin? When we have faith in Christ, our sins are forgiven! We do not have to completely turn from our sins so that we NEVER sin again. We do not have to name every one of our sins and confess them to have them forgiven? It’s not even possible to name all of our sins, because we sin, when we aren’t even aware we are sinning! That really is how wretched we are.

Back to Matthew 7:20

When you are read Matthew 7:15-20, you’ll see that Jesus is talking about recognizing false prophets. He says that false prophets come to us in sheep’s clothing, but that inwardly they are like ravenous wolves. Can you judge the inside of a man? Outwardly, these false prophets would appear as if they were TRUE believers in their actions. That’s why they look like sheep. So what fruit would you need or even be able to judge to know that they are false prophets? That would be their words, their teachings. Do their teachings align with God’s Word? Do their teachings point to Christ as Lord and Savior? 2 Peter 2:1 tells us that this is exactly what false prophets do: they “will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them.”

When you look beyond Matthew 7:15-20, to the context of the entire Sermon on the Mount, you’ll clearly see that Jesus isn’t asking any of us to judge the salvation of anyone based on their external actions. He is calling out hypocrisy. He says, “Oh you don’t think you have committed adultery, you don’t think you have killed anyone? Guess what! You have – in your heart.” He actually throws all of the Jews who are trying to justify themselves by their “fruits” under the bus of the Law! He says, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)

Please, don’t judge people as being TRUE Christians or not based on their external actions. God judges the heart. We can’t see into the heart. What we can do is have deep concern for our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, especially when we see they are struggling with specific sins. Come alongside them. Share your own struggles with sin. Confess to one another. Pray for one another. Hold each other accountable. If the person denies his actions are sinful, and you show that person from God’s Word with the counsel of other believers present that it is sinful, then according to Matthew 18, it’s safe to consider them as LOST.

Recognize false prophets by their words and teachings. Don’t try to judge someone as Christian or not based on their external fruits, because we can’t see into the hearts of men to know the heart position behind the fruit we see to know if it is from faith or not. Do you know who the judge is of the fruit? God, the Father. Check out John 15. Jesus says that he is the vine, and that we are the branches. The good fruit we bear is because of him and being connected to him. He also says, “My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2). So we aren’t the ones judging the fruit – God, the Father, is the one with that job. He cuts off and throws away the branches not bearing fruit. He prunes the branches that are bearing fruit, so they might bear more fruit.

What is a false conversion?

I have seen a recurring theme lately on social media sites… the false conversion!  These social media posts, videos, images, and websites are claiming that a false conversion is when people think they are Christians (or saved), but in reality, they are not.  Why wouldn’t they be saved?  It’s not because they don’t believe Jesus died for their sins, it’s because they aren’t doing the things Christians ought to do.  This means these false converts are somehow openly sinning in a way that  Christians should never do, they aren’t bearing the proper Christian fruit in their lives, or they think that a prayer that they said at some point means they are absolved of all their sins.  The other recurring theme I am seeing amongst these posts that talk about false converts is a question of “true repentance”.  They claim that a false convert hasn’t truly repented, or hasn’t really surrendered to God, or doesn’t actually desire a relationship with God, they’re just wanting “fire insurance”.

Here’s a recent example I saw:

An example of this false conversion talk.

An example of this false conversion talk.

This quote by itself leaves a lot of questions of what exactly does Paul Washer mean, but a guy named Michael on Facebook explained the above Paul Washer quote by saying:

He’s speaking about how people are very quick to get someone saved that they basically never tell the the gospel but rather spend five minutes and make them mouth a sinner’s prayer. Then we end up spending the next 50 years trying to get them to actually follow Christ as part of God’s flock.

In other words, people are being deceived into believing they’re saved just because they said a simple prayer, without ever actually understanding what the Gospel is, and so they’re unfortunately never brought to the place of actual conversion to truly follow Christ. And unfortunately many will indeed do as Jesus says, “Many will say unto me, Lord, Lord,” and believe they’re saved, but they never actually gave their lives to Christ.”

Another commentator agreed with Michael, saying:

What Michael said is correct. Our current society [I think he means church congregations] tries to do whatever they can to get a “decision” for Christ, with a Gospel void of repentance and faith. Then this “convert” doesn’t act like a Christian, so we spend years and years trying to “disciple” a non-believer into acting right, without realizing they were never saved to begin with.

There are even websites dedicated to warning people that they might not be true converts to the Christian faith.  At one site, you’ll find numerous confessions from former “pretenders” and you’ll be greeted with a load of questions that are designed to lead you to the realization that you are not a true believer, such as the following question:

What if I have not honestly been broken over my sins against God and completely surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ?

The measure of your salvation in all of these “false convert” warnings lies with YOU and YOUR work, not in Christ and HIS WORK.  The work lies upon your degree of commitment or involvement.   Do you really believe, have you completely turned from your sins, do you actually hate ALL of your sins, are you truly following Christ?

Based on these types of questions and warnings, a person is left to turn inward to himself, and not outward to the cross of Christ and his empty tomb.

Do I really believe?  What does that mean?  Do I ever have doubts?  Do I ever question God’s calling in my life? Is my entire theological system 100% correct, free of all errors?  Are there miracles accompanying all my prayers?  Have I been bitten by a poisonous snake and not harmed at all?

Have I completely turned from my sins (often worded as truly repented)?  What does that mean?  Does it mean I hate every single one of my acts of sin?  Can I even enumerate all of my acts of sin?  God forbid, but what if I fall into some sort of horrible cycle of sin, such as what King David and Samson did?  Were they not truly repentant because of those nasty spills of temptation and failure to resist?  Is it even possible to completely turn from my sin in this life?  Won’t I always have sin in this life?  And since I know I will always have sin this life, how many sinful acts are too many for me to have completely turned from my sin?

Am I truly following Jesus?  Let’s see… Am I holy as he is holy?  Do I always pray for and love my enemies?  Do I ever have hatred in my heart, or lust?  Do I ever covet my neighbor’s house, or my boss’ salary?  Do I have one too many coats?  Do I always do the things that Jesus would want me to do, just as he was always doing what his Father wanted him to do during his time here on earth?  Do I ever go astray like the dumb sheep of Psalm 23?

Do you get my point?!!?  Are any of us really, truly, completely (fill in the blank) so that we are deserving of salvation because we have (fill in the blank)?  Are any of us even capable of properly making these judgments about ourselves?  And I know for certain no other man can know my heart!  So please, don’t get sucked into justifying yourself, or trembling that you aren’t doing enough to prove yourself a true convert.

So how does conversion take place?  A person hears the Gospel and believes.  It’s that simple.  Conversion occurs instantaneously, as does our justification.  Sanctification however is a process, in which we will become more and more like Christ, likely sin less, and grow in faith and love more and more, etc.  But that process will never be complete in this life… NEVER.  When we die and are raised at Christ’s return, we will then receive heavenly bodies – that are sinless.  As for now, we will always struggle between our new nature in Christ and our sinful nature that we inherited at our conception (Romans 7).  And our justification is not dependent upon how we are progressing in sanctification!  Our justification always comes by grace through faith in Christ.

Here is Paul Washer (to use him again in this blog post) explaining how a person is converted:

I absolutely love that Paul Washer explanation of how a person is converted and how we should lead a person to Christ! I hope you watched it. His explanation shows that conversion is not saying a prayer or making a decision. It’s simply faith coming to a person through hearing the Gospel message proclaimed, just as Paul says it does in Romans 10. After we have faith, we do pray, we do decide to follow Christ, etc.  Perfectly?  No. Never, not in this sinful body.  Should the quality of my obedience dictate my salvation?  No. Never. The perfection of Christ’s obedience dictates my good standing before the Lord, and Jesus was obedient unto death – even death on a cross!

And to close… since the focus of these “true conversion” tests is for a person to discern his works and see if they are in line with the Lord’s will (“acting like a Christian”), I offer the following passage, Matthew 7:21-23:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Do you note what happened here?  Not everyone who prophesies in Christ’s name and drives out demons and performs miracles will be saved.  Why?  I think it is because they were justifying themselves.  If Jesus ever said to me, you can’t enter heaven, I won’t respond with, “But Lord, did I not (blank), (blank), and (blank) in your name?”  No!  I will say, “But Lord, did you not take on flesh and humble yourself to live amongst us in order to fulfill all righteousness for me?  Did you not die as an atoning sacrifice for my sins? Did you not rise from the dead, conquering sin, death, and the devil?”  Do you see the difference?  The ones who did not know Jesus, pointed to themselves and the work they did in Christ, not recognizing that they are evil-doers.  The one who knows the Lord will point to Christ alone for his salvation.  The point is that we are all evil-doers.  We don’t deserve salvation.  We deserve hell.  So let’s not make salvation (or our conversions) about how well we are following Christ, how committed we are to the one True Lord, how much we hate our sins, or how much fruit we are bearing.  Let’s always beat our breast and proclaim how wretched we are and that we need Christ to justify us!