All possessors profess, but not all professors possess. Now what does all that mean? It means that you can profess to be a Christian, but never really possess that which makes you to be a real Christian. But if you are truly a Christian then you will naturally give profession to the faith you possess.
Our Saviour faced the issue of those who professed to follow God, but had no real desire to follow God. On one occasion when He was face-to-face with some religious people who were doing their utmost to avoid following God’s Word. He said to them: “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me`’ (Matt. 15:7-8).
Experiencing this hypocrisy is a particular danger for those who have been brought up in Christian homes or have moved for sometime in evangelical church circles. It is easy to get to know what to do and what to say; you pick up the way of doing things and start to behave in the “expected way”. Soon we become the hypocrites that our Saviour spoke about. This happens when we use the right words and do the right things, but have hearts which are far away from God because we have never known God.
This leads us to think of how easily terms are used; how easily we can call ourselves Christians. In fact, in the 2001 census of the British population 71.6% of the population classified themselves as Christians. But how many of those really are Christians? Of course God knows the heart, but there are certain tests that we need to use in order to check out whether we really are possessing what we profess.
The most important thing we need to posses is eternal life. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him (John 3:36) are the words of our Lord Jesus. We may profess to be Christians, but do we really believe in Jesus Christ? If we truly do believe then we really do possess eternal life. If we do not believe, then we reject. There are only two alternatives; we either believe or reject. And if we reject then we face eternal wrath.
Our Saviour further filled out this whole concept when He said that I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full (John 10:10b). Jesus came on a mission to bring life to His people. This raises the issue of how we can know we have this life. The book of 1 John gives us certain indicators as regards to whether or not we have this life.
- Obedience. We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. (1 John 2:3-4). Quite directly John says that if you profess to be a Christian and do not obey the commands of God then you are a liar; a hypocrite.
- Love for other Christians. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light (1 John 2:9-10b). Are we drawn to other Christians; that is those who are in the family of God? If so then that is a mark that we share eternal life with them.
- Do not love the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him (1 John 2:15b). The world is that system of things and ways of thinking / operating which is organised without reference to God whether it be social, political, economic etc. If our lives are pre-occupied with this world then we do not know God; we do not have eternal life.
- Not persisting in a sinful lifestyle. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him (1 John 3:6). To have no concern about sinful practices in your life indicates that you have no knowledge of God’s eternal life within you.
- Right views of Jesus. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son ( 1 John 2:22). If we think that Jesus was just a special man then we have not got eternal life. For such people any profession to know God is just a deception. We must have right views about who Jesus is.
These are five ways whereby we can examine ourselves to see whether we are truly in the faith (see 2 Cor. 13:5). Peter spoke along similar lines when he spoke to his fellow-believers that they should make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love (2 Pet. 1:5b-7). No doubt the more we have these things in our lives then the more sureness we can have in our hearts that we have eternal life. So Peter further says Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election (2 Pet. 1:10b).
As Christians then it is our great joy to know that His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness (2 Pet. 1:3). But we need to go in and possess our possessions (see Obadiah 17). Like the nation of Israel entering the promised land they had everything there for the taking, but they had to go and take it. And that required lots of strivings and battles as the book of Joshua recalls. For ourselves as Christians to possess all of God’s good gifts to us requires us to strive according to his working in us (see Col. 1:29).
So we conclude asking the question is your profession genuine? You could be baptised and a church member and still not possess eternal life. Let’s check ourselves over to see whether we are the genuine article or just a hypocrite. Remember to get this wrong has massive and that really is massive consequences because it is either eternal life or eternal wrath. And you can’t get more serious than that.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter from August 2009)