Backslider or False Convert?
I grew up going to church. In fact, I’ve been told that I played Jesus in the manger as a baby and my parents played Joseph and Mary in a church play. When I was 11 years old, I said the sinner’s prayer and thought I meant it.
But when I went to junior high, there was no way to tell that I was a Christian. I easily fit into the crowd by doing the types of things most kids at that age do. In high school and college I again looked and acted like most other students. You couldn’t see Christ in me by my actions. Even after college you still couldn’t tell that I was a Christian. I used to have a really bad temper. After I’d yell and scream at my family, I would feel really bad and wonder to myself, “How can a Christian say and do the things that I do?”
You see, I was taught about Jesus being my Savior, but no one really taught me about Lordship or repentance (if they did, I wasn’t listening). I ran around spouting off, “once saved, always saved” and thought I could live any way that I wanted to. I was all right, I was saved. After all, I’d said the sinner’s prayer and I hung my hat on Romans 8:1, that there is no more condemnation.
It’s just been in the last few years that I’ve realized the error of my ways. You see, God is loving, full of grace and forgiveness. But He is also just, righteous and Holy (1 Peter 1:16). He can’t tolerate sin. Our sin separates us from God because of His Holy, righteous and perfect nature. God opened my eyes and showed me that I had broken His Ten Commandments: I had lied, stolen, coveted (wanting things that belonged to someone else), I had hated which is the same thing as murder, according to Scripture. I hadn’t put God first in my life. The same verse I counted on to appease my mind, sorely convicted me one day. There is no more condemnation for those who walk after the Spirit and not after flesh (Romans 8:1). I had lived selfishly for myself and not for God. Instead of being saved, I was actually a condemned unrepentant sinner.
I also learned from reading the Bible that I would have to stand before God on Judgment Day (Acts 17:30-31) and give an account for everything I’d ever done and everything I’d ever said (Matt. 12:36). I knew I was going to be in big trouble. It became clear to me that if I had to stand before God in my current state I would be one of those people that said, “Lord, Lord I went to church, I served you in many ways.” And then I would hear those fearful words,“Depart from me you worker of iniquity, I never knew you.” (Matt. 7:21-23). To learn that I would actually be found guilty before Almighty God was a shock to me, beyond belief! I began to also understand that there was more to being a Christian than saying a few words when I was a child.
The Bible says that salvation is a free gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). It also states that we are to have repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). Repentance means to turn away from our sins and turn toward God. I said I was sorry when I was 11 years old, but I didn’t repent from my sins. Even though belief requires follow through (Matt. 7:18-20), I kept right on sinning. I thought Jesus was my Savior, but I didn’t treat Him like He was my Lord. To treat Jesus as Lord, you must choose to give up your selfish ways by surrendering your will completely to Him.
A false convert is someone who, as Ray Comfort says, "Never slid forward to begin with.” After studying the Scriptures I can say without a doubt that I was a false convert. The question, “How can a Christian say and do the things that I do,” was a credible question. The reason I didn’t have a valid answer is because I didn’t truly understand what it meant to be a genuine Christian, a true follower of Christ.
Rather than following Christ, I was headed for Hell. Some people say that there is no Hell or My God wouldn’t send anyone to Hell. The scriptures clearly state that there is a real place called Hell and that it is for eternity (Mark 9:47-48).
Please don’t make the same initial mistake that I made. Don’t make a false idol for yourself, by making a god to suit your desires (Jeremiah 17:9). An idol or false god is anything that you put before God. A false god allows you to set the standards. This doesn’t work. Almighty God has already set the standard, the Ten Commandments. The Bible says that God made man in His image. Unfortunately, a lot of people make a god to suit them and this is called idolatry. The Bible states that no idolater shall inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Instead of continuing on this path, I thankfully, asked God to forgive me of my sins and I repented. I put my faith and trust in Jesus. You can do the same. No matter where you have been or what you have done you can have a relationship with Jesus. Whatever you may consider to be your spiritual condition (saved, unsaved, a backslider or a false convert) there is a way that you can know for certain that you are indeed saved. The apostle Paul says that we are to examine ourselves to make sure that we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).
God uses our conscience to get our attention. If God is working on your conscience, please allow Him to examine your heart by becoming sensitive to what He wants to show you about yourself. Ask God to forgive you of your sins, repent-turn away from your sins and turn toward God and put your trust in our Lord Jesus Christ. God gave me a new heart and today I can say that Jesus is Lord of my life and people recognize Him actively at work in me. I pray that you ask Him to do the same for you.
I'm Dennis Vance and this is my testimony - seek and save the lost