Recently I was speaking to a man and generally seeking to exhort him to live out his profession of Christ. This was all very much resisted. Towards the end I sought to bring him back to the essentials of the gospel. At this point it became clear that he really did not have a clue. He did not understand the basics of the gospel.
This all led me to ponder upon something that I have regularly considered and even chastised myself about. It is the fact that you can’t expect goats to act like sheep. Someone who is a foreigner to the grace of our Lord Jesus, no matter how vehemently they might make profession of Christ, cannot be expected to act like a Christian. Paul gives insight when he writes: The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:14).
I am left wondering how much of my pastoral engagement with people has been misdirected because I have failed to establish of first importance, whether or not I am dealing with a sheep or a goat. If I am speaking to a goat exhorting them as regards to discipleship is not what is required. What is rather required is to exhort them to come to Christ and find salvation in Him.