The New Life

by Mike Ratliff

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts; who having become callous gave themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” (Ephesians 4:17-19 WEB)

The vast majority of professing Christians in the United States and in other countries, whose churches are patterned after American churches, are enslaved to their flesh. Why? The trend that I have witnessed in our churches for at least the last 25 years or so is a de-emphasis of discipleship. Evangelism or outreach has crowded out in-reach and Bible study. Why? Church growth has become the golden calf of the new evangelism. Because of that, church leaders strive to be culturally relevant even if it means dummying down the Gospel and no longer putting any resources into biblical discipleship.

The cost for doing this is extremely high. Biblical ignorance is rampant. Because of that, few believers know how to rightly divide God’s Word and this makes them susceptible to false doctrine and dynamic leaders who are mere hirelings instead of true shepherds of the flock. As a result, believers walk in ignorance of how they are meant to walk through this life. I remember a teacher in a former church sometime in the late 1980’s telling us that the Beatitudes were unattainable in this life for believers. This teacher told us that the ultra-high standards Christ set in His Sermon on the Mount were indications of how we would live in the Millennium.

I had been a Christian for only a couple of years at that time and I believed him. It wasn’t until I learned to study the Bible myself that the Holy Spirit showed me the truth. The new life in Christ is a reality for those who walk according to the Spirit instead of according to the flesh. Those who are enslaved to their flesh walk in the futility of their minds, which are darkened in their understanding. Since they are mired in sins of the flesh they are separated from fellowship with God. Their hearts are hard, being calloused over because they are enslaved to their lusts, uncleanness and greed. When professing Christians see Church services on Sunday as something that interferes with them being home in time to watch NFL Football on Sunday afternoons then there is a huge problem there. Yes, Christians can live as if this new life in Christ never happened.

But you did not learn Christ that way; if indeed you heard him, and were taught in him, even as truth is in Jesus: that you put away, as concerning your former way of life, the old man, that grows corrupt after the lusts of deceit; and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.”(Ephesians 4:19-24 WEB)

Notice that the Apostle Paul tells us in this passage that there are professing Christians who have never met Jesus and, therefore, are not regenerate and have not learned Christ by the working of God in their hearts. However, genuine Christians did and do learn Christ by hearing Him and being taught in Him. Genuine Christians know fully well that there is a dividing line separating their lives before salvation and after. There is a former way of life and new life in Christ. This new life in Christ is maintained and grows deeper by being renewed in the spirit of the believer’s mind. By this renewal, he or she puts on their new man who is in the likeness of God and is justified and holy in His eyes.

“Therefore I urge you, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service. Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2 WEB)

How do believers become renewed in the spirit of their minds? Look at Romans 12:1-2. It must begin by walking through each day as a living sacrifice. This means that believer’s lives should be walked before the face of God as an act of genuine worship in spirit and in truth. It begins there and it involves not being conformed to this world and its ways, but by continually seeking mind renewal. What does this mean? It means that we must seek the face of God in all that we do. If you desire to seek some fleshly pleasure that you know is contrary to what a Christian should be involved in then that is the opposite of Christian mind renewal.

Instead of polluting your mind with fleshly pursuits, seek God. Read your Bible. Listen to godly preaching, not sermons from the new evangelism or the emergent church. Let God direct your paths into what to study instead of doing what is “popular” with the masses. If we will do this then our minds will be transformed as the Holy Spirit works in our Hearts to direct our paths and God the Father prunes us. This is abiding in Christ in the strength of His joy. By living this way we will learn the will of God and we will know how to obey Him.

“Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak truth each one with his neighbor. For we are members one of another. “Be angry, and don’t sin.” Don’t let the sun go down on your wrath, neither give place to the devil. Let him who stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need. Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for building up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander, be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you.”(Ephesians 4:25-32 WEB)

Have you ever wondered where the strength and discipline comes from that would enable you to live this way? This comes from a life that is a living sacrifice. This believer is constantly renewing his or her mind and is abiding in Christ. God is working in his or her heart and because of that, he or she can have righteous anger and not sin. Coarse language is something from the past. Instead, this believer is meek and in control. Bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry and slander may be what marked their walk before, but now he or she is kind to others, tenderhearted and forgiving. Christlikeness is growing in this believer. Christ’s very character is becoming manifest in them. They do not repay evil for evil. Instead, they forgive and move on. This Christian is walking in the new life because he or she is spirit-filled.

“Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore don’t be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Don’t be drunken with wine, in which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing, and singing praises in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father; subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ.” (Ephesians 5:15-21 WEB)

We must pray for God to help us do this. He will only do this in us as we submit to Christ’s Lordship in all parts of our lives. This isn’t just stuff going on in our hearts and minds. This is something real that produces fruit. We must remember that the fruit does not cause our spiritual growth and obedience. It is the other way around. The fruit is evidence of God working in us as we draw near to Him in cooperation with Him in our sanctification. I pray that you and I will live out our lives this way for His glory alone.

SDG

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27 thoughts on “The New Life

  1. And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. (Luke 12:4-5)

    One would think fear of man should be a non-issue in light of the singular scripture above, yet still it grips men’s hearts and sways them away from the things of God and toward becoming itching-ears-tickling men-pleasers.

  2. Hello MIke,

    Great job of the Spirit working through you when you wrote this! The Lord has been convicting me and showing me a lot of things very recently, and I just wanted to keep encouraging you to keep growing and keep publishing. The fruit of the Spirit just pours out of you. Stay humble and fixed on the Cross!

    Gilbert

  3. Standards in the millenium? I believe we will be sinless, no? And if the standards are for a different time then maybe all the Biblical commands are in the future and we can just coast. Much of the church growth movement stems from:

    1. The competitive spirit
    2. Pride and power
    3. Building debt
    4. Watered down Arminianism
    5. A transfer of excitement from the Word to crowds
    6. Spiritual shallowness and laziness

    Preach the Word, live the Word, pray without ceasing, witness with fervor, and use methods with prayer ful caution. Test conversions with love and grace, but with truth and prayer. I believe most believers would have to admit that the number of true conversions today is extremely overstated. I will openly and sadly admit that I believe there will be people go to hell who I told were saved.

    Very sobering.

  4. Mike, great post! Great scriptures rich in exhortation for the Christian to walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel: Phil 1:27-30

    27 Only let your manner of life be worthy [8] of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

    These verses for me are a good summary of our actions as we walk according to the Spirit. And I agree with you that by far churches as a whole miss the whole point of doing and being “church”. I agree that Churches do de-emphasize discipleship. In fact many churches swing the pendulum too far and focus only on evangelism, and often their evangelism is void of truth and rooted in man-centeredness. And then other churches focus only on discipleship, and often its rooted in self-help and void of Christ. The pendulum swings too far in either direction. And then both groups tend to be seeker-sensitive rather than spirit-sensitive and cater more to man then God.

    I think Churches need to rediscover, as in refind the actual, Gospel of Christ and see it as central to everything. Churches need biblical discipleship and biblical evangelism. They need truth that is unwavering. And then when Christ is the center and truth is exalted, it will be okay to be “culturally relevant”, because the message won’t be changed just adapted to the people group being reached.

    Now trust me, I know that kicks up a red flag to many. And it would have to me in the past. But it depends on what “culturally relevant” means. Typically, what most Churches mean by “culturally relevant” means leaving out key truths of the Gospel and of God’s character and totally changing and adapting the message to please man. What I mean does not mean change the message. If the message is changed, then there is no hope. It also does not mean cater to the “needs or wants” of others just so you can reach them. It means walk the balancing beam of presenting the unchanging message of truth and offense while also relating it to them where they can understand it. That’s all. Too many christians, myself included, have been so desensitized to so many things because they have been so abused for so long. We are scared of words like “culturally relevant, love, grace, God’s love, relational” etc. Why? Because we throw the baby out with the bathwater. We say because it’s been abused for so long by so many people, it must be evil and ineffective and not God-glorifying. But there is a way to relate the Gospel to any person without changing it. There is a way to simplify the Gospel without stripping it of its power. There is a way to relate it without changing it. There is a way to explain it without leaving out its saving qualities.

    But I think most churches have ruined that concept and have gone to extremes and man-centered lengths in the process. Their means and end become man-centered. Instead of both being God-centered like they should be. Their means are worldly and their end is pleasing men at all costs. Rather than using God’s means, the Gospel, and God’s end, His glory; or Himself!

    So great post and excellent points. Just wanted to share my thoughts on it. And share how I’ve been stretched lately to not get so upset about how some truths like “God’s love, forgiveness, relationships, friendship, grace, heaven” aren’t always bad to present. IF we want to preach the whole Gospel and counsel of God, all have to be included. Not just wrath, but also grace. Not just anger, but also kindness. Not just hatred of sins but also love for the ungodly. If we could learn to capture the whole story and present it in a way that pleases only God, then evangelism, discipleship, church, etc. would be done in a way that pleases and brings glory to God.

    May God continue to bless “Possessing the Treasure”!

  5. Jonathan,

    The church I go to would not be considered “culturally revelant.” In fact, it would be considered “traditional.” However, the Gospel is the center of everything. This gospel is about God’s wrath and man’s dire need of a saviour and it is about God’s grace and forgiveness for those who hear, believe and repent. My wife does not like the music because it is “traditional.” I don’t care. I love it. We aren’t supposed to go to church to be entertained, but to hear the truth and fellowship with like-minded believers.

    I am highly suspicious of slick churches that go out of their way to be “culturally revelant.” Why? As you said, most of the time the message is corrupted and watered down taking the Holy Spirit out of it.

    There is a very solid church in Edmond, OK called Henderson Hills Baptist that is very “modern,” but they do not water downt the message. It would probably be very close to a church you are describing so I agree that it is possible to be more modern and remain solid. However, I often wonder why they feel they must resort to looking like a rock show or a broadway play on stage rather than simply preaching the truth.

    I have been fed by the preaching of their pastor and I download his podcasts. When we are in OK to visit our daughter, we go to church with them there as well. I have seen spiritual growth in both my daughter and her husband since they have joined there.

    However, the last time they visited us in Kansas City we took them to the church we go to. My son-in-law loved it. He said it reminded him of the church he grew up in. I am not so sure my daughter did though. :-) This is puzzling to me as well. The preachers at the church we attend usually preach for 45 minutes or so. Both my wife and daughter have complained that it’s too long. I have not felt that way at all. The more the better as far as I’m concerned. :-) Both of them prefer more contemporary music while I and my son-in-law liked the more traditional music. I have no problem worshiping there so I don’t believe that music style has anything to do with it.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  6. We must remember that the fruit does not cause our spiritual growth and obedience. It is the other way around.

    In our success-driven culture, it is simpler and faster to just appear like we’re producing fruit. We focus too much on the fruit itself and not on the heart that produced it. Thus, we work to promote our own good fruit, the big shiny (plastic) fruit that makes us look Christ-like in the eyes of superficial Christians.

    Fruit can be faked to those lacking discernment. And man-made “new evangelism” fruit is easier to fake than the fruit of discipleship,

    I could never understand how Dennis Rader, the BTK strangler (killed 10), was the president of the Christ Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas. Isn’t that an indictment of the present-day visible church?

    Congregants Paul and Freyja Carlsted said they have known Rader for 30 years. “I think my mind is numb,” Freyja Carlsted told CNN. “When we found out, all we could say was that it’s impossible, it couldn’t be.”
    “The person that we knew was kind, he was a hard worker, he was willing to help and do anything at this church,” she said. “Obviously, we all respected him or he wouldn’t have been president of our church.”

  7. Dale,

    Great comment! I know, it is puzzling how somone like Rader could be a serial killer and highly visbile and respected professing Christian. What do we learn from this? He obviously knew how to answer the right questions in order to rise to that level in a church. Our works are not what makes us genuine Christians. They are evidence, but temporal works can be faked or produced by anyone. The fruit that cannot be successfully counterfieted by our enemy and his seed is the fruit of the spirit and what I call the fruit of salvation. The following is an excerpt from a chapter in my first book.

    Genuine believers bear genuine fruit the vine produces. Immature believers don’t bear much fruit, but as they mature they will. What sort of believer bears no fruit? Some might say the Adolescent or Soul-led bear no fruit, however, it may not be much, but all in Christ will bear some fruit because they are attached to the true vine. The branches which bear no fruit are taken away from the vine. They are not genuine believers. Just because someone “professes” to be a believer doesn’t mean they are.

    How can we know if we are truly in Christ? Or you may ask, “What is the fruit which genuine believers bear?” If true salvation is as impacting on a believers life as we contend then there should be verifiable evidence or fruit manifested in that life. The problem is in knowing what evidences really prove the presence of God in person’s life and those that don’t. I have noticed most of us look at the wrong things to determine if we are in Christ. Real evidence of the presence of God in a person’s life will be the fruits of salvation. These fruits will in turn lead to outward manifestations of “goodness” or “religiosity” which, unfortunately, can be counterfeited. These outward manifestations are often what we look at to determine if we are a “good Christian” or not. That is a fallacy. Any activity or attitude which can be counterfeited by a false believer can not be used to verify ones salvation.

    Let’s take a close look at these evidences that should never be used to verify our salvation. The first evidence which neither proves or disproves ones salvation is Visible Morality. We all seem to fall for the idea that if a person is a “good person” God surely will automatically accept them. Some atheists and agnostics are “good people.” However, the Bible is very clear in stating salvation comes only through a relationship with Jesus Christ. I have known many people who were kind and decent yet were not genuine believers. People with a strong conscience will not stray far from high standards of behavior. Believers do not have a monopoly on high moral standards. In the book of Matthew a rich young man comes to Jesus seeking a savior.

    And behold, a man came up to him, saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Then Peter said in reply, “See, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” (Matthew 19:16-27)

    In these verses a “good person” with Visible Morality comes to Jesus to fill the void in his life. Jesus tells him to put away everything else he valued in his life then come to follow Him exclusively. He would not do it. He was a person with high moral standards yet he was not a believer.

    The next attribute that cannot be used to determine true salvation is Intellectual Knowledge. Many mistakenly believe that belief in God is the same thing as believing God. I pity the so-called Biblical scholars who have gone hard after intellectual biblical knowledge without one iota of faith. These are the same bunch who will issue statements every so often questioning the veracity of the Gospels or the Deity of Christ. I do not understand why people who are supposed to be intellectual believers do everything they can to water down and liberalize Christianity into just another man-made religion. I don’t know what their motives are, but it is obvious they do not know Jesus as Lord and savior.

    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18-21 NKJV)

    The majority of the Jewish leaders in Jesus’ day had a great deal of head knowledge of their religion, but they were the ones who rejected Jesus as the Christ. Those who should have known and recognized Him missed Him. They had knowledge without faith.

    Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,”[as it is written. For circumcision is indeed profitable if you keep the law; but if you are a breaker of the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision” (Romans 2:17-25 NKJV)

    Rightness with God comes only by believing on Jesus Christ as Lord and savior not by knowing about God and the Law.

    Another snare many fall for is Religious Involvement. Man is naturally religious. Many people who are deeply involved in religion are not genuine believers. Being faithful in church attendance is not an indication of true saving faith because anyone can do that. Remember only those who know Jesus as Lord and savior are truly saved. “Going to church” is simply religious works not an act of faith. In one of Jesus’ parables He contrasted the genuine believers who are wise with the lost who are foolish.

    “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’” (Matthew 25:1-12)

    The wise know Christ and serve Him obediently. The foolish think their Religious Involvement will save them so they do not submit to Him as Lord or trust Him as savior.

    The fourth indicator that should never be used to prove our salvation is Active Ministry. In every church I have been member I have seen people who have served in ministries for years who were not real believers. They thought they were, but they were trusting in religion and ministry to save them. In every case I saw each one repent and come to Christ. However, many who have the title “Pastor” or “Preacher” or “Evangelist” or “Teacher” or “Deacon” or “Elder” do not even know Christ as Lord and savior. How can I say that? I have seen the evidence myself. I have heard the testimonies of those who have gone through seminary and entered the ministry and never knew they were lost. How can this happen? The only answer I have for that question is the wrong indications of true salvation were used by them instead of the correct ones.

    Active Ministry can be counterfeited. Some of the hogwash I hear from some radio and television “evangelists” verifies that statement. Jesus Himself attacked them.

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matthew 7:21-24)

    What did Jesus say? He said not everyone who says Lord, Lord is really saved. He says many of them perform all sorts of religious activities, but their works are actually lawlessness. Only those who are obedient to the will of God by His grace are truly saved. Remember, Active Ministry can be counterfeited.

    The fifth false indicator of true salvation is Conviction of Sin. Just because someone feels guilt about their sin does not mean they are saved. The Holy Spirit convicts the lost about their sin to draw them to Christ. Until the sinner repents and comes to Christ for salvation they are still lost. When the Apostle Paul was imprisoned in Caesarea before being sent to Rome for trial he witnessed to the Roman procurator, Felix.

    But when Felix heard these things, having more accurate knowledge of the Way, he adjourned the proceedings and said, “When Lysias the commander comes down, I will make a decision on your case.” So he commanded the centurion to keep Paul and to let him have liberty, and told him not to forbid any of his friends to provide for or visit him. And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him. (Acts 24:22-26 NKJV)

    Felix was convicted of his sins, but that did not bring him to salvation.

    The sixth false indicator of true salvation is Assurance. Just because you or I might think we are saved because we believe we are does not mean we are. In fact the self-righteous are the ones who attack the truth most vigorously. They believe they have a corner on the truth and are above everyone else. They believe they are the true believers because of their religiosity, but they do not know God and His truth. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were perfect examples of this.

    But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. (Matthew 23:13-14 NKJV)

    Their pride led them to believe they had the truth, but there Assurance was based on “works” not faith.

    The seventh and last false indicator of saving faith is Time of Decision. Just because someone makes a public decision to receive Christ as Lord and savior does not mean they really do. I have seen many come forward at altar calls, tearfully confessing their sins, asking to be led to Christ. Of course we would attempt to do so. After a few Sundays they were gone. They had no power in their life to remain faithful. They responded to conviction by the Holy Spirit, but did not believe. Jesus told a parable about the false and true believers.

    Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard. Then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. (Luke 8:11-15)

    The ones on the rock and the ones in the thorns are those who “believe”, but not with a whole Heart. They fall away because they didn’t really believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Their Time of Decision was false and could not save them.

    Here are the seven evidences that can not be used to prove or disprove ones salvation: Visible Morality, Intellectual Knowledge, Religious Involvement, Active Ministry, Conviction of Sin, Assurance, and Time of Decision.

    Genuine salvation produces fruit which is produced abundantly as we abide in Christ. The more we abide in Christ the more fruit is produced so we can bear it. We can not manufacture it. It can not be counterfeited. Since none of it can be faked we should examine each one so we can “know” whether we are truly saved or not. If these fruits are missing from our lives then we should be very concerned.

    The first fruit that is produced in the life of a true believer is Love for God. The true believer who learns to abide in Christ will be living closer and closer to the Lord each day. They will be changed from the inside out. The changes they see in themselves and the enormity of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross will bring deep gratification and Love for God. As the believer spends increasing amounts of time in the presence of God they commune with Him deeper and deeper each day. They Love the Lord their God with their whole Heart. The Psalmist compares our Love for God as in insatiable thirst.

    As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. (Psalm 42:1 NKJV)

    God is above all in the Hearts of the genuine believer.

    Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You. (Psalm 73:25 NKJV)

    The believer abiding in Christ, the Spirit-led, loves God and that love grows continuously. The lost who is attempting to fake salvation can not do this. It can not be counterfeited.

    For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:5-8)

    The second fruit that is produced in the life of a true believer is Repentance from Sin. True salvation produces true repentance. No matter how hard carnal people try to repent they can’t do it for long. They are simply trying to change via will power. The believer abiding in Christ will be living a life of walking in repentance. Repentance from Sin is a hallmark of the abiding believer’s life. God changes the Spirit-led believer from the inside out. Repentance from Sin is not something we have to try to do via will power. Thank God! Our part is to determine to obey God then rely on His power to Grant Repentance in our Hearts. This is the actual transformation that takes place in the Heart of a believer who is Spirit-led. A life of repentance is a pure life. A pure life lived before God is a holy life. There is no way a non-believer can fake or counterfeit this. Repentance from Sin is part our responsibility and part God’s. We must seek it and pursue it as the Holy Spirit convicts us, but it is God who changes us.

    But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. (2 Timothy 2:20-26 NKJV)

    God grants repentance to those who pursue godliness. This Repentance from Sin is a work of the Holy Spirit in the Heart of the believer who abides in Christ.

    The third fruit that is produced in the life of a genuine believer is Genuine Humility. The truly humble believer is that way because of the good work God has done in their Heart. There is false humility, but it is actually pride pretending to be humble. Its goal is to bring recognition for being seen as humble. That form of humility can be produced by a non-believer. However, Genuine Humilityis a fruit of salvation. The non-believer could never counterfeit it. Why? Genuine Humility is a product of “agape” love. This form if Love seeks the best for the one loved and is not concerned with self. Genuine Humility and “agape” love are two sides of the same coin. It is the outcome of God loving others through the believer. The Spirit-led believer will abide in Christ. As they stay in God’s presence God’s love flows through them to all around them. They will never be selfish or self-seeking. They will be treating all around them as Christ would.

    The Spirit-led believer is humble because they know they can do nothing without God. They approach God recognizing their utter spiritual bankruptcy before Him.

    The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalms 51:17)

    They recognize they are sinful when compared to God.

    But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:6-10)

    There is no way for a non-believer to produce this fruit. Genuine Humility is a fruit of true salvation.

    The fourth fruit of salvation is Devotion to God’s Glory. As the maturing believer spends more and more time in God’s presence their character is changed. It becomes more and more Christ-like. Part of this change is an understanding of how vital it is to live a life that glorifies God. God is worthy of glory. We are not. The only good we do is submitting to God as He works through us. The maturing believer understands this. The non-believer has no clue about this fact. When a non-believer tries to please God with religion they are really after self-gratification not God’s glory. The Spirit-led believer abiding in Christ is devoted to God’s glory. Their devotion is reflected in the next two passages from Psalms.

    Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD! (Psalm 105:3 NKJV)

    Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth. (Psalm 155:1 NKJV)

    All praise and worship of God should come from a Heart directed towards God like this. The non-believer can not see this nor counterfeit it. They are dedicated to self-gratification.

    The fifth fruit which is exclusive to true salvation is Continual Prayer. The non-believer does not really understand prayer. They see it as some sacred or holy exercise to try to sway God to please them. Continual Prayer is even stranger to them. The Spirit-led believer is in a constant state of communion with God. That is Continual Prayer. The Soul-led believer has a problem with this one as well. The reason they are Soul-led is they aren’t doing this. This isn’t walking around all day continually talking to God. It is consciously keeping the Lord in your Heart and on your mind all the time. This is meditating on God Himself. All decisions are made in light of that communion. Worship is continual.

    Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV)

    This attitude and abiding in Christ can not be faked our counterfeited.

    The sixth fruit of true salvation is Selfless Love. This is “agape” love directed towards others. It is the expression of True Humility. The presence of Selfless Love for other believers is an indicator of true salvation.

    We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. (1 John 3:14 NKJV)

    Selfless Love can not be expressed by anyone consumed by self-gratification. It is present only in those who are owned and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The Soul-led believer has a hard time with this as well because they abide in Christ intermittently. The Spirit-led express it because they abide in Christ consistently.

    The seventh fruit of true salvation is Separation from the World. This fruit in the life of a believer results in the jettisoning of worldly attitudes and activities which are replaced by godly pursuits. This comes as the vinedresser prunes us. The believer, who goes hard after God, abides in Christ and becomes Spirit-led fasts from secular attitudes and feasts on Christ’s character.

    The ways of the world are going to be judged. The true believer must learn to separate themselves from them.

    Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions–is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

    The eighth fruit of true salvation is Spiritual Growth. The non-believer can not do this. Only the genuine believer, because of the indwelling Holy Spirit, is being sanctified.

    But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience (Luke 8:15 NKJV)

    In the parable of the sower, in Luke 8, Jesus portrays the word of truth being scattered throughout the World. Some of the seed falls on bad or stony ground and does not grow. Some falls in thorns and is choked out. Only the seed that falls on good ground, the genuine believer, grows and produces fruit. This Spiritual Growth is not accomplished by habitual religiosity or will power. It is produced in the life of a true believer only. It will be manifest mostly in the Heart of the believer who abides in Christ. The Spirit-led are growing in Christ continually. The Soul-led grows in spurts accompanied by much back-sliding.

    The ninth and last fruit of true salvation is Obedient Living. This is living a life in obedience to the will of God. This is a life that is submitted to the Lordship of Christ. Many believe they are believers because of their religiosity.

    Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

    The non-believer does not have the ability to be obedient to the will of God because their will is in bondage to sin. Their will is corrupt and is incapable of choosing to not sin. They don’t know His will anyway. The Soul-led believer may know the will of God, but they try to be spiritual by will power even though their regenerate Heart now has the ability to choose to not sin. Sadly, it is still hit-or-miss with them. The Spirit-led believer abides in Christ and is submitted to the Lordship of Christ. God’s will is imparted to them constantly as they stay in His presence. With their regenerate Heart they have the ability to choose to obey God through His grace and walk in victory. They are learning how to hear God. This can not be faked or counterfeited by a non-believer.

    Here are the nine evidences that are the fruit of true salvation: Love for God, Repentance from Sin, Genuine Humility, Devotion to God’s Glory, Continual Prayer, Selfless Love, Separation from the World, Spiritual Growth and Obedient Living.

    If the evidences in the first list are true of believer, but the spiritual fruit from the second list are suspect then so is their salvation. If the spiritual fruit in the second list are manifest in a believer’s life then they will also take on the evidences from the first list. It makes sense if you prayerfully consider this argument. The first list can be faked, but no one can fake the second list. Also, there are many sincere people who are like that. They may really believe they are truly saved, but have never come to that place in their life where they have submitted to the Lordship of Christ. If that is the case they are able to be “religious”, but not have the relationship with God that results in the fruits of salvation being manifest in their life.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  8. Amen Mike! Are you on a roll or what!! The Lord is sure working through you. Music………..we like the more traditional even though we play the guitar, bass, and drums, trumpet, and keyboard. In fact, no instruments have been proving to be very nice. Keeps your heart on who you are singing to, and not on the gift the musician has from the Giver. Its a blessing the way we see it. No distractions that way. Also, the longer the preacher preaches, the more we like it! None of this 20 minute stuff. 1 or 2 hours is fine to us and very appreciated. Now that we have FINALLY found a church who is solid in their doctrine. Good article Mike. May the Lord keep using you for His vessel here.

  9. Wow Mike!

    Your last comment was worthy to be an entire post in and of itself – and I’m not saying that tongue in cheek either! I would suggest you dust that comment off and post at CRN and here for the edification of your readership.

    That was as complete a dissertation on the true and counterfeit effects of salvation as I’ve read in quite some time. Great work!

  10. Something else to mention here Mike, you also notice I’m sure, that there is NO disapline (sp) in the churches. Anything goes.

  11. Paul and Luann,

    Ah, now you have opened up a sore wound. :-) Since I have been a Christian I have seen Church discipline exercised just once. Leadership in our churches refrain from doing so because they fear that they will drive people away. What is more important, obeying God or being popular with people? We know the right answer to that, but it seems that these fellows’ consciences are quite calloused over so they can easily disobey God by giving all of the congregation free passes no matter how unbiblical and worldly they act.

    No one is allowed to join the church we have been attending without first agreeing to submit to the authority of the leadership there. Wow! You don’t see huge numbers of people running down to the front to joint because membership there is not done that way. It is done via examination. People must be approved for membership by whoever examines them. Then they are voted in by the assembled congregation. You don’t see that much anymore. :-)

  12. Mike,

    Thanks for your comment post in which you describe traits of true believers. I am part of a church whose leadership team is characterized by: Love for God, Humility (genuine as far as I can tell), Devotion to God’s Glory (they are always giving Him credit for anything good), and Obedient Living (at least to what they believe God is telling them to do). The other traits are more difficult to discern, but Separation From the World is definitely not high on their priority list (it’s the world they want to reach!). I feel like a Pharisee (the older brother in the Prodigal parable) because I’m so judgmental about what I perceive to be worldliness in the church, its activities, and its services. I struggle with the knowledge that it might be an issue of pride on my part (I used to be an elder and a teacher before we adopted our current philosophy), so I am careful not criticize openly. But I keep hoping that God will show me His path. I appreciate everyone’s comments here as I work through this.

    David Ozsvath

  13. Its rare indeed to see any kind of discipline. Like you, the church we now go to also do what your church does. It is SO refreshing to see they won’t just let anyone come in. They are determined to keep the ‘leaven’ out. What a blessing!

  14. David,

    There is nothing wrong with wanting to reach the lost, but you can’t compromise to do so. If the church is becoming worldly and uses the excuse that they are trying to be “missional” then they are compromising. The Gospel breaks down when it is tampered with like that. The Gospel is the bridge that God created so that lost and dying people can come to Him and be forgiven and given eternal life. If lost people never hear this good news because they aren’t given the bad news first then they aren’t hearing the gospel. Worldliness in the church is what causes this. No one wants to offend the worldly people. This is what happens when people try to be the Holy Spirit.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  15. Wow, Mike!
    What clarity and insight. Instruction, not “conversation”. :-)
    That excerpt put in words many of my stray thoughts.
    I ordered your book from Amazon. Can’t wait to read!

    David:
    What struck me about your comment is that you are testing yourself (2 Corinthians 13:5) as to whether you are acting from pride or from faith. I love to see comments that reveal scripture! I’m praying for you brother.

    Dale

  16. Dale,

    Thanks – I just want to be certain. Although my “inner man” (at least what I had always thought was my inner man) has no peace about what is happening in my church or in U.S. Evangelicalism in general, I want to be careful. I’m sure that Paul felt confident in his persecution of the church before the Lord got ahold of him…

    David

  17. Dear Mike, Like others, I am finding the comment you made in which you respond to Dale, and address evidences of the fruit of the Holy Spirit, a great encouragement and blessing. Thank you.

  18. “Many mistakenly believe that belief in God is the same thing as believing God. ”

    Mike, I printed the response to Dale out some time ago. I was reading it over again. This sentence just jumped out at me and I have been thinking on it; the greater than ocean wide difference between belief in God and believing God. O Father help me believe You in everything You have revealed to be true about You in Your written Word. Help me to believe that all Your directives and commands and walk in obdience. Only by your Holy Spirit alive in me and leading me; being my very breath and heart beat can it be. Rule and overrule. Superintend every area of my life.

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