It’s Time for True Conversion
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. — Acts 9:5
Occasionally, I get asked if murderers go to Heaven. I always lay out the fact that according to the Bible, I am a murderer, yet I am going to Heaven. 1 John 3:15 says “anyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.” Yes, I have hated people before. I have certainly thought about killing certain people. I have learned to take those thoughts captive and give them to the Lord (or at least give them to my wife). Thank God I have learned to do this! I feel so sorry for the folks on Facebook that post everything that comes into their minds. It reveals so much about their character…or lack of it. Had Facebook been around 15 years ago, I know I would have been a drama king.
Here is the problem with sins such as gossip, greed, and hatred: If these are your sins, you don’t realize it. If someone points them out to you, you can easily rationalize it. A gossiper never thinks they are a gossiper, they’re just “telling it like it is.“ I’ve never heard a greedy person admit they are greedy, and haters don’t get mad, they get even, right? I don’t know about you, but I’m glad Jesus didn’t “get even” with me. He took my punishment and simply said “you are free from the punishment and bondage of sin.” Remember? Christ demonstrated His love for me in this…while I was a sinner, Christ died for me (Romans 5:8) I understood the punishment part, but I didn’t have a clue about the bondage part. There are many, many Christian still living in bondage.
After I got saved, I thought I could just clean right up. On my own, I thought I could clean up my mouth, stop going places I shouldn’t, stop hanging out with people I shouldn’t, and stop looking at things that I shouldn’t. I also did not even have a clue that I had idols in my life. I can see clearly now that I had God replacements: golf, guitars, and girls. Here is the major problem with all of this: I had people point all of this out to me, but I rationalized every bit of it. I was in bondage, but didn’t know I was in bondage. How does one get out of bondage that he or she doesn’t even know they are in? How does one get truly converted?
It all comes down to what you choose to focus on after salvation. Saul was a Christian murderer before Acts chapter 9. When he encountered Jesus, the first thing that He asked was “Who are you, Lord?” I wish this had been my first desire after receiving Him. I wish I had asked this question over and over. I wish I had read the gospels immediately and figured out who this man was that gave His life for me on that cross. I wish I had taken the time to get to know my Lord and my Savior. Saul had a desire to get to know this man who just knocked him off of his high horse.
Here is the deal: If you have no desire to spend time with the Lord Jesus Christ, you might be saved, but you have not been converted. I lived “saved” for about 5 years. But, after realizing I couldn’t change on my own, I wanted to be converted. Therefore, I made it my goal to read through the entire Bible in a year. I did it in 15 months. I can’t explain it, but somehow during those 15 months, things changed, I changed. My mouth cleaned up and I didn’t even try to clean it up. I didn’t have to go to church anymore, I wanted to go. I had this really intense sick feeling in my spirit when I was somewhere I didn’t need to be or doing something I didn’t need to be doing. I looked back over the last 15 months of my life and even though I wasn’t’ even close to where I needed to be, it was clear that I was heading in that direction and I was different. I now felt like I “knew” Jesus! I understood that it wasn’t a religion, it really was a relationship. I now had confidence in my salvation that I didn’t have before.
I say all that to say this: There are a lot of people who have been saved, but have not been converted. I believe saved people are going to Heaven, but they don’t help others get there. I believe saved people do more harm to the kingdom of God than good, at least I did when I was “saved only.” If you believe that you are in this group, it is time for true conversion. If you don’t know if you are in this group, consider these questions: Do you spend time with the Lord? Is it ever just you and Him? Do you take a minimum of a few minutes everyday to simply thank Him, talk to Him, or just get to know Him more? Are you completely honest with Him? Are you any different as a result of His forgiveness? If not, let Saul’s question guide you for the rest of the year…
Who are you, Lord?