Is carnal Christianity a deception?
Should a carnal believer expect Jesus to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant?"
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God gives all true believers the desire to seek after truth (Matthew 6:33), examine it carefully (2 Timothy 3:16), keep it in memory (1 Corinthians 15:1-2), and then make it a working part of their daily life (Philippians 2:12-13). God does not give His children the option to stay at the starting gate of carnality after salvation (2 Corinthians 13:5). If He did, then why would He bother to save any of us (and from what would He save us) if not from ourselves?
While the thief on the cross was saved, he had no opportunity to mature in Christ. So, in this isolated instance (and instances like it whenever a believer's life is cut short) the Bible agrees a person can believe (and be saved in an instant) without growing to maturity. So, while it is true sanctification is not a condition for salvation, sanctification (growing up) is evidence of salvation (Romans 13:14). To live without an increasing desire for holy living is foreign to the Spirit of God living in us.
Though justification is an instant work, sanctification is a lifetime work. God begins this lifetime work by preparing and declaring us holy vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7). As the Got Questions article on sanctification says, "Just as the temple of old was sanctified for God's use, our bodies, temples of the Holy Spirit, are set apart for God's holy purposes (1 Corinthians 6:19)."
I like to think about sanctification as the time we spend getting ready for the approaching wedding ceremony (Revelation 19:6-10). This "getting ready time" on earth requires personal involvement and cooperation because there is much to learn about the Bridegroom and His divine protocol for living in the Kingdom of God.
The Jewish wedding ceremony is a type of this future event. The betrothal period is the time both the bride and groom are separated but also the time for the bride to get ready. Though the Holy Spirit seals our heart with the "promise ring" that Jesus will return to take his bride (Hebrews 13:20, Luke 22:20, Ephesians 1:13), the Spirit (bridesmaid) labors long and diligently to ensure the bride will be ready and without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:27).
A believer exhibiting carnal behavior is warring against this holy preparation. I am not suggesting a born-again believer will never sin or backslide or resist. Heaven knows there are times when we all grow weary and slip from the high call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14). I have. We all have. But, here is the difference. The Holy Spirit will not allow us to remain in a state of carnality. The dominant idea promoted by carnal Christianity is that a carnal believer can stay as they are without any evidence or need for a changed life. Even more disturbing is the idea that at a carnal believer can opt to live unholy and then rightfully expect to be counted among the faithful in heaven. The Bible does not teach these unholy creeds (Luke 13:27-28).
What the Bible does teach is that the enemy will sow tares among the wheat, mixing false brethren among the true (Matthew 13:24-30). As a result, the Gospel we so dearly love and live by and bear witness to loses credibility and any gain by a moral and good people falls by the wayside. This is why a true witness of the Gospel is indeed a living and changing epistle, a person willing to show and tell the world that by personal transformation our faith is alive by the grace of God at work in us (Philippians 2:13).
In closing, Got Questions sums it up very nicely without any misunderstanding: "The key thing to understand is that while a Christian can be, for a time, carnal, a true Christian will not remain carnal for a lifetime." A true Christian will change. They will grow. And though they will stumble from time-to-time, they will continue to get up and move forward. They will be faithful to prepare and press towards the high call of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).
The true Christian will be ready like the wise virgins and faithfully trim their lamps daily to glow brightly on the narrow path of holy living. When the roll is called in heaven, they will be there to hear Jesus say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant...enter thou into the Joy of the Lord (Matthew 25:23).
Image Credit: Jay Wilson; Broken Cross Color 4; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | Eternity-Forever | False-Teaching | Theological-Beliefs
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