A Warning to Professing Christians

by Mike Ratliff

But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:6-11 ESV)

The Truth War is an ugly thing. Those attempting to dismantle Biblical truth and reform it to their own philosophies use tactics that could best be termed as deceitful. They accuse without any substance to their attacks. Their entire focus seems to be to muddy the waters and cast doubt using verbiage designed to discourage the warriors of the truth while confusing everyone else. Now I ask you, who does that sound like? Of course, it is our enemy who is behind this. He is a liar and a murderer. Those who serve him are spiritually blind and have been deceived. Our enemy is quite clever in that he attacks the truth from every conceivable angle and platform. Some of his minions are atheists. Others are pagans. Others are professing Christians, but they are not the genuine article. There are hundreds of different forms of Christianity, but there is only one true faith. The religion of genuine Christianity teaches that Christians are saved by justification by faith alone. However, there are hundreds of false prophets who have invaded the visible Church who teach vastly different false doctrines. However, there is one common denominator in them all. They teach in one form or another that salvation belongs to them because they have done something that has earned them recognition as Christians or as the emergents say these days, “followers of Jesus.” 

Making a profession of faith is essential. All genuine Christians must make a public profession of faith that they are in Christ and belong to Him. We see that in Romans 10:6-11, which I placed at the top of this post. The confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord is the public profession, but it isn’t valid unless it is rooted on what follows. The genuine believer “believes” in his or her heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. In other words, genuine salvation belongs to these who believe in Jesus Christ, that He is their Lord and Saviour and by His death, paying for their sins, and his resurrection, proving that He is God and that all who believe in Him are truly saved. This public profession of faith is vital, but not all who make it are genuine. There are two groups of people who claim to be Christians who prove by their actions that they are not. The first group are those who claim to be Christians when it is convenient, but when it isn’t convenient they deny Him.

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:32-34 ESV)

The motive for denying Jesus as Lord and Saviour can be just about anything. Some do it because they are embarrassed to be known as a Christian in the company they keep. Others deny Jesus by their hypocrisy. They are in Church every Sunday, but the rest of the time they are of the world. However, the most tragic ones are the ones in countries such as Iran or Pakistan who hear the Gospel, but deny Jesus because they know that if they make a public profession of faith it could cost them everything including their life. However, let me make this very clear my brethren. Genuine Christians will not do this. They will make that public confession regardless of the cost.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26 ESV)

The cost of true discipleship is stated very clearly by our Lord in this passage. That taking up of ones cross and following Him is a complete dying to self. Those who count the cost and follow the Lord as He commands gain their soul for eternity, but all who do not forfeits theirs.

The second group of professing Christians who are disingenuous are those who are religious, but prove that they are workers of lawlessness by their adherence to false doctrines and their following of false prophets.

“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. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:21-27 ESV)

21ου πας ο λεγων μοι κυριε κυριε εισελευσεται εις την βασιλειαν των ουρανων αλλ ο ποιων το θελημα του πατρος μου του εν τοις ουρανοις 22πολλοι ερουσιν μοι εν εκεινη τη ημερα κυριε κυριε ου τω σω ονοματι επροφητευσαμεν και τω σω ονοματι δαιμονια εξεβαλομεν και τω σω ονοματι δυναμεις πολλας εποιησαμεν 23και τοτε ομολογησω αυτοις οτι ουδεποτε εγνων υμας αποχωρειτε απ εμου οι εργαζομενοι την ανομιαν 24πας ουν οστις ακουει μου τους λογους [τουτους] και ποιει αυτους ομοιωθησεται ανδρι φρονιμω οστις ωκοδομησεν αυτου την οικιαν επι την πετραν 25και κατεβη η βροχη και ηλθον οι ποταμοι και επνευσαν οι ανεμοι και προσεπεσαν τη οικια εκεινη και ουκ επεσεν τεθεμελιωτο γαρ επι την πετραν 26και πας ο ακουων μου τους λογους τουτους και μη ποιων αυτους ομοιωθησεται ανδρι μωρω οστις ωκοδομησεν αυτου την οικιαν επι την αμμον 27και κατεβη η βροχη και ηλθον οι ποταμοι και επνευσαν οι ανεμοι και προσεκοψαν τη οικια εκεινη και επεσεν και ην η πτωσις αυτης μεγαλη (Matthew 7:21-27 WHNU)

The proclamation, “Lord, Lord” is κυριε κυριε in Greek. This form of the word for “Lord” should be rendered as “O Lord, O Lord.” What does our Lord Jesus say here? Not everyone who makes this profession of faith will enter the kingdom of heaven. Who are the ones that make this profession who will enter in? It is those who do the will of the Father who is in Heaven. What does this mean? If we skip down a few verses to vv24-27 we have our answer.

The word “hears” in v24 is the Greek word ακουει. This word means “to hear or to give audience.” In v24 this verb is in present tense, indicative mood, and active voice. This describes something that is happening while the speaker is speaking. In other words. Those who hear the commands of Jesus actively and then obey Him are the ones who prove the veracity of their salvation through their obedience. These are the ones whose profession of faith is genuine and they will enter the kingdom of heaven to be with the Lord forever.

The verb structure for our Lord’s description of the ones who hear, but do not obey Him is different. It is the same Greek word, but in v26 it is in participle form. It is in present tense and active mood. This reflects repeated or continuous action. It is linked to the phrase, “does not do them” or μη ποιων αυτους. The participle ποιων is also present tense and active mood. So our Lord is describing people who are always hearing the truth and never obeying it. They pursue their own religious way by following false doctrines professed by false prophets or there is no place in their hearts for obeying the Lord in anything. However, they do profess to be Christians or “Jesus followers.”

My brethren we are not perfect nor does God expect us to be perfect in this life. However, genuine Christians are marked by the fact that they hear the truth and obey it as a way of life. They are walking in repentance. They are growing in maturity. On the other hand, there are many professing Christians who hear the truth continually and continually disobey it. This marks them as those who cry O Lord, O Lord, but are rejected by the Lord Jesus as being workers of lawlessness. In these last days these are becoming more an more vocal in their rebellion even going so far as to claim that any call for a walk of repentance is evil while their freedom to live as they want is the true form of Christianity. As I stated earlier, this is nothing more than lies by the father of all lies, our enemy.

My brethren, examine yourself. Don’t look for perfection, but look for a hatred of sin and a drive to find the victory over it in your life. Look for an intense desire to walk in obedience to your Lord. Look for a draw away from the pleasures of this world and its idols to a more intimate walk with our Lord Jesus. Take your concerns boldly to the throne of grace. On the other hand, if you are convinced that you are in Christ because of your own actions or abilities or talents or anything in you, but you are always doing things your own way, you have a problem. Why? The faith that says but does not do is really barren unbelief. Our Lord never suggested that works merit salvation but that true faith will not fail to produce the fruit of good works, which is obedience and humility. Examine yourselves my brethren.

Soli Deo Gloria!

15 thoughts on “A Warning to Professing Christians

  1. Thank you Mike. It’s always a bit scary for me to read articles like this but in the end it is of some comfort. I tend to look for perfection and when I don’t see it, it generates doubts.

    Then when I read about the second group denying the need for repentance, etc., it helps me to remember where I am and am *not*.

    I was talking with someone at church this morning about where I’ve been over the past 11 years and as I told her, there is no explanation for me still *standing* except for God because most everyone else, including the former pastors I have had, have all set off alarms. I’m not still here because of them but rather *in spite of them*.

    Do I hate sin enough and love God enough? No. But I do see a change there from what I used to be.

  2. Thank you Brother Mike.

    The pastors who teach the Holiness and the Attributes of God cause the listener to grieve their sinful state and give God the glory for His grace, mercy and riches in Christ.

    And they would leave such a service, knowing they are new creatures called to be witnesses to all of the One True God as they grow in sanctification, to run the race and fight the good fight of faith by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

  3. Thank you Mike,
    Matt.5-7 are some of my favorite passages and this has helped me. The couple of times I have wanted to talk about Matt.7:21 with other Christians there has not been much desire and response, or there has been an inference that this refers to false teachers. Anyway, I want to know what it means to have our Lord know me so I love to think on this passage. I pray He will give us more truth concerning it.
    Gos bless you—praying for our Lord to strengthen you!

  4. You are very welcome Diane and thanks for your prayers. God is using my weakness to make me totally dependent on His grace. It is like blinders have been been removed from my spiritual eyes. My focus has been totally remapped. He has peeled away the layers of darkness from my spiritual eyes and now I see the idolatry that poisons everything we do outside of His grace. It makes it hard to watch TV. Everything having to do with it is an appeal to the flesh to distract us and draw us into idolatry. In any case, I have been doing a total reexamination of my own walk and all that I do. Also, it is as if I have new eyes to see the deceit in our religiosity. So much that Christians look to is so empty, so empty….

    Sorry, didn’t intend to go off there. I don’t know where God is taking me in this, but it is very humbling.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  5. The Lord led me to cease watching TV, and having done so, my life has changed, to His good, and I hope and pray, for His Glory.

    The Lord molds us when at our lowest ebb, in the midst of various trials and circumstances, along His Narrow Way.

    We truly called to endurance, daily, walking, not of our own strength, but that of the Comforter, in The Holy Spirit.

    God is Holy and desires His Glory be magnified 24/7 daily.

    Daily, I fall short!

    God is at work in your heart, life, and I am sincerely grateful for the privilege to be in the midst of readership fellowship here, with you, and all.

    Goodness knows, the Biblical Christian Walk, as A.W. Tozer aptly highlighted, is a lonely walk.

    May the Lord increasingly bless your heart, dear brother, and entire readership.

    In Christ,

    Karen

  6. There are times when I’m hit heavily with doubts concerning my salvation…I John 1:9 is what I cling to…and I know salvation isn’t dependent upon feelings, because if it were, I’d continually be condemned…I know that the closer we draw to God, the more opposition we will face from the enemy…my salvation hope is in Christ alone. Thank you, Mike, for writing articles that get right to the ‘heart’ of the matter. You tell the Truth, plain and simple, which is as it should be. No sugar added.

  7. When the Lord saved me 3 1/2 years ago He almost immediately took away the desire for any TV watching. I evidently had been doing too much of it!!! I watch a few cartoons now and then with my son and the weather and that’s it. That is not something I did on my own but He did it. I liked TV and did not have a thought to quit watching it.
    I am excited with what the Lord is showing you, me and everyone who visits here. The layers He will peel off us will not end in this life..but we do not become discouraged because although we may seem hopeless to ourselves it is He who does the work in us. We can take great comfort in that! He not only does it but cares for it, continues it, and will complete whatever He wills to do in us! I find that incredibly comforting and utterly amazing. What an awesome Creator.

  8. Awesome Diane! Yes indeed! That is how I have been seeing this as well. I watch the local news with my wife and have been watching some sports, but yesterday during the NFL games I kept having to look away from the screen because of the blatant idolatry and fleshly stuff going on. I was hearing my Lord and obeying Him in getting away from the idolatry. It is amazing how this leads to greater intimacy with Him. I pray and worship in place of me being self-focused now. When I start to recognize that slide into self-focus I pray for forgiveness, worship my Lord and move back into obedience in what I am supposed to be doing like work or writing or being a good husband, etc. I find this very difficult to describe, but I desperately want my brothers and sisters in Christ to “get this” and “do it!”

  9. Sounds to me like living at the foot of the cross.
    I pray that we would have teachable and humble spirits and for His great mercy towards us. I want a teachable heart.
    Bless you.

  10. Pingback: Defending the Faith: A Warning to Professing Christians « Slaughter of the Sheep

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