. . . and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. – Revelation 21:8
About 25 years ago, after reading this verse on a t-shirt and then looking it up in the Bible, God gave me my first command, “Tell the truth.” Looking back, I had so many things wrong with my life that it is hard to imagine that this would be my first command. Even now, there are still a lot of things wrong with my life, but God has brought me back to this verse this morning.
What is the real difference between an authentic Christian and one who simply professes with his or her own mouth? What is the difference between Christians and non-believers? Sometimes you can’t spot any differences in the lives of Christians and non-believers.
I had someone ask me the other day, “I’m doing things that I shouldn’t be doing. I’ve asked God to save me before. Do you think God will still accept me into heaven?” From my church experience, there are two answers: The Baptist answer, and the Pentecostal answer. One says, “you can’t lose your salvation,” the other says, “you can be in a backslidden state separated from God; therefore, you better get right.” That may be an oversimplification, but like I said, it is my experience.
I think this is a wall that all Christians will run into. There are two responses, “This Christian thing is too hard,” and “Lord, this is where I am . . . I need You!” I guess there is a third response, and that is to ignore the matter altogether and go on like nothing is wrong.
Here is my conclusion: You are either holding onto Jesus Christ and trusting Him for your salvation, or you are not. When it comes to sin, the authentic Christian will make an authentic assessment of himself or herself. Right now, in my own life, I have hatred in my heart for certain people. I go weeks and even months without thinking about them. Then, all of a sudden, it is like my soul gets flooded with this darkness. I look at a verse like 1 John 3:15, “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.” Now, knowing this about me, what do I do? I can’t just stop. If I could, I would have a long time ago. Also, knowing this about me, I have sin in my life. In fact, I’m on equal footing with a murderer! What in the world do I do? What does the young kid do that asked me the question, “Will I still be accepted into heaven?” No matter what his sin is, we are in the exact same boat!
Here is what I do as soon as I realize this about myself. Here is what I told the young man to do. Take it immediately to God. The only reason he or I could ever stop any particular sin is because He changes our hearts and minds. We are going to heaven because we are holding on to Him, not because our deeds justify our entrance.
Lord, it stinks sometimes to make an honest assessment. It is hard. Years ago, Your command to tell the truth seemed so simple, but now I see just how deep those three words, tell the truth, goes. Not only does it mean to be truthful in my statements, but it means to tell You, Jesus. You are the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through You. When I am ever so aware of my sin, I can tell You, I can tell the Truth. You are faithful and just to forgive me for my unrighteousness. You hear from heaven and begin to heal my broken heart and mind. There are so many things wrong with me. I get so tired of trying to fix them. This morning, I hand them over to You. Make me righteous, Lord. I open up my heart to You. Help the kid who is honestly worried about his salvation. Do a greater work in him than you’ve ever done in me. Give him peace that passes all understanding. Help him know that he can bring it all to You . . . His eternal Father in Heaven. Amen