By R.E. Olsen
Have you ever heard anyone say, “Some of the worst people I know are Christians”? Well, just because they go to church does not mean they are Christians. Many who profess to be Christians are not Christians at all. They are “fake Christians.”
“For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
The false teaching that is so prevalent in liberal churches these days results in many congregants who do not know the truth of God’s Word. Instead, they are practicing an easy, comfortable religion that allows them to live the way they please.
“For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 1:4).
Many people mistakenly believe their church attendance or good deeds will put them in favorable standing with God. While true saving faith will indeed produce works or “fruit” in the life of the believer (James 2:17-26), you cannot work your way into Heaven.
Sadly, some may live their entire lives believing they were Christians only to one day hear Jesus say, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23).
With so many contradictory teachings, how can one possibly know what is true or false? There is only one way, and that is through God’s Word as written in the Holy Bible.
According to the Bible, a Christian is defined as a person who fully trusts in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). True Christians are “born again” (John 3:3). They repent of their sins and are no longer controlled by their sinful nature, but are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9).
The Bible clearly states that when someone is saved, his life will definitely change as he is a “new creation, the old has gone and the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). A true, born-again believer will strive to bring glory and honor to Christ by living a life that is pleasing to God (1 Peter 1:15-16; 4:1-4) and being obedient to Him.
As the apostle Paul told the Romans, the genuine child of God has been set free from sin and is no longer a slave to sin (Romans 6:22). This means that Christians will not engage in deliberate or habitual acts of sin (1 John 3:6).
That being said, we know that humans are not perfect. Christians can still be tempted to sin, and that is why Paul admonished the church in Thessalonica to abstain from even the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22), and to live in such a way as to “win the respect of outsiders” (1Thessalonians 4:12).
If a person is grounded in Christ, it should be evident in their lifestyle. Any profession of faith that does not result in a changed life and good works is a false conversion. So if there are no deeds of love or charity in someone’s life, a careful self-examination is certainly called for.
Paul instructed those in Corinth to do this very thing. He said, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you – unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
In addition, Paul said, “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law” (Romans 8:7-8). “God’s law” refers specifically to The Ten Commandments – the moral standard of righteousness given by the direct command of God (Exodus 20:13).
Jesus obeyed God’s moral law completely. Anyone who does not follow in Jesus’ footsteps; i.e. by obeying the Ten Commandments, is simply proving that he does not know Christ. Instead, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).
So even though someone may go to church regularly and may appear on the outside to be a Christian, deep down inside the person may not really be a Christian. People like this are hypocrites, actors, false converts.
The same is true not just for the congregation and laymen but for pastors as well: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Matthew 23:13).
Actually, the term “fake Christian” is kind of a misnomer. You are either a Christian or you are not a Christian; you are either with God or against God (Matthew 12:30). Those who call themselves Christians but really are not Christians, unfortunately give true Christians a bad name.
The Bible warns about false prophets, telling us to beware of any claims that conflict with Biblical truths. Even today, false teachers are sucking in many people who are blinded by false hopes, false promises, and false doctrine…
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” ~Galatians 1:6-7
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” ~Romans 16:17-18
“My dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.” ~1 John 4:1-3
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” ~2 Peter 2:2-3
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” ~Matthew 7:15-20
Food for Thought
Jesus said: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away…. [The man said] ‘Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’” ~Matthew 13:24-30
Are you a wholesome, healthy plant nourishing the life, growth, and strength of the Christian church? Or are you an unruly weed, smothering the seeds of righteousness that the Christian church has worked so hard to sow among the people?
True & False Conversion – Are our churches really filled with true believers? This message explains why divorce, addiction, immorality, and abortion are so prevalent within the church today. Click here for a printable copy of “True & False Conversion.”