The Mark of a Genuine Christian

by Mike Ratliff

So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation– if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:1-3 ESV)

When the Manhattan Declaration controversy came about last year, it was truly amazing how God used that to clarify the dividing line between true Christianity born from above and that which is a manmade facsimile, which is, of course, not genuine. That dividing line was very precise. On one side were those who took a stand against signing the declaration because it stated that all who signed it were in agreement based on a fellowship of common beliefs. It inferred that within those common beliefs was that all practiced the sharing of the Gospel. The refusal to sign the document was because they would have by signing it, in essence, been showing an agreement with some who call themselves Christians, but who do not hold to the same concept of what the Gospel is in accordance to that held by Orthodox Evangelicals. In other words, this declaration was a means to make the Gospel an unimportant side issue.

I have been dealing with this on a different plane or level lately. When I compare and contrast true Christianity with what has been shown to be false such as that which claims to be “missional,” its defenders have made comments to me along the lines of, “Surely the gospel is defined in such sufficiently broad terms that we would be considered fellow Christians too, right?” This is the issue my brethren. The pressure being brought to bear on us as we stand firm in the middle of God’s Truth will be for us to compromise on what the Gospel is and what true Christianity looks like, et cetera. This confusion is the fruit of many years of deterioration through compromises in the Truth War. We are now at the stage where most professing Christians are biblically ignorant and view doctrine and theology as mumbo jumbo or the realm of the legalistic. If those concepts are true then I suppose the Apostle Paul would be accused right along with us as would the writers of the Gospels and the Lord Jesus Himself.

In our day, the concept of what genuine Christianity looks like is nothing but a mass of confusion. However, the Word of God does succinctly define it for us. Those who are truly in Christ are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17) and have been delivered from being slaves of unrighteousness to slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:15-23). In this post, we will look at this deliverance, which is the mark of all genuine Christians.

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:15-18 ESV)

What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. (Romans 6:15-18 KJV)

What then? shall we sinne, because we are not vnder the Law, but vnder grace? God forbid. Knowe ye not, that to whomsoeuer yee giue your selues as seruats to obey, his seruants ye are to whom ye obey, whether it be of sinne vnto death, or of obedience vnto righteousnesse? But God be thanked, that ye haue beene the seruants of sinne, but yee haue obeyed from the heart vnto the forme of the doctrine, wherunto ye were deliuered. Being then made free from sinne, yee are made the seruants of righteousnesse. (Romans 6:15-18 Geneva)

15τι ουν αμαρτησωμεν οτι ουκ εσμεν υπο νομον αλλα υπο χαριν μη γενοιτο  16ουκ οιδατε οτι ω παριστανετε εαυτους δουλους εις υπακοην δουλοι εστε ω υπακουετε ητοι αμαρτιας εις θανατον η υπακοης εις δικαιοσυνην  17χαρις δε τω θεω οτι ητε δουλοι της αμαρτιας υπηκουσατε δε εκ καρδιας εις ον παρεδοθητε τυπον διδαχης  18ελευθερωθεντες δε απο της αμαρτιας εδουλωθητε τη δικαιοσυνη (Romans 6:15-18 WHNU)

In v15 we see Paul’s answer to those Christians who shrug off their sin, saying that they are forgiven and are under grace so it doesn’t matter. Sorry, but μη γενοιτο! This is Paul saying, “May it never be!” This is a strong exclamation to make the point that this sort of walk is not the mark of true Christianity. In v16 Paul shows us clearly that those whose lives are marked by slavery to sin are slaves of unrighteousness, i.e. not saved. On the other hand, if they lives are marked by obedience to God then this is proof of them being slaves of righteousness, i.e. regenerate. Now, here is vv17-18 in a word-for-word translation from the Greek.

Grace (χαρις) but (δε) to the (τω) God (θεω) because (οτι) you were (ητε) slaves (δουλοι) of the (της) sin (αμαρτιας) you obeyed (υπηκουσατε) but (δε) from (εκ) heart (καρδιας) into (εις) what (ον) you were (παρεδοθητε) example (τυπον) of teaching (διδαχης), having been freed (ελευθερωθεντες) but (δε) from (απο) the (της) sin (αμαρτιας) you were slaved (εδουλωθητε) to the (τη) rightness (δικαιοσυνη).

Here is this translation with an “English word order”: But grace to God, for you were slaves of sin, but you obeyed from the heart in which example of teaching you were delivered by, and having been set free from sin, you were enslaved to righteousness. Do you see the transition point of true salvation? The genuine Christian, like all people born into this world, was a slave of sin. However, he or she“obeyed from the heart the model or example of teaching he or she  was delivered by. This deliverance freed him or her from sin and enslaved them unto righteousness. These have been delivered and are new creations.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:16-17 ESV)

Yes, our justification is by faith and in it God declared us righteous by imputing Christ’s righteousness to our account, but He also sanctified us. This is what Paul is describing in Romans 6. This sanctification is a real deliverance. We are new creations who have been delivered from slavery to unrighteousness unto righteousness. This does not mean we will be perfect in this life. This does not mean that we will never sin. What it means is that we will be growing unto Christlikeness from this moment of deliverance until God takes us home to be with our Lord forever.

What is our part? Our part is to learn how to mortify our sins. My brethren, it is tragic that these truths and this understanding is so rarely taught or heard of in today’s version of Christianity. Yes, if we proclaim it we will be ridiculed and attacked, et cetera, but it sure didn’t stop the Apostle Paul from proclaiming this boldly in his epistles! Therefore, we should not conceal it either.

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 thoughts on “The Mark of a Genuine Christian

  1. Amen Mike!! I recently had a conversation with a young woman who spoke of a relative being gunned down during a robbery. This relative was stealing drugs from a pharmacy; I asked the young woman if she now considered this relative’s eternal fate. She responded, ‘oh, he believed in God’. I was amazed at her response. I gave some biblical truths on being born again, being regenerated, repentance, etc. I asked this woman if her church taught on the doctrine of regeneration, to which she responded with a somewhat confused ‘no’. This young woman claims to be a Christian as well, yet has said such things as ‘the bible doesn’t speak out against abortion'; she also believes it to be okay to drink, be sexually immoral, listen to worldly music…you get the picture. This is the mentality of many, many professing Christians in this nation. She didn’t much want to hear sound doctrine, which isn’t surprising, considering the times in which we live.

    Thank you for standing firm brother

    Lyn

  2. Lyn,

    That example was a pretty good summary of the condition of the visible church in our time. I know that the compromisers will have a problem with this message, but we cam’t do what we do with an eye on our own popularity. The ‘real’ reality is what awaits us in eternity. I think we had better start getting prepared for that don’t you?

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  3. Hi Mike,
    Your title–The Mark of a Geunine Christian–got me thinking about a verse I was looking at today:
    And He summoned the multitude with His disciples, and said
    to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny
    himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Mark 8:34
    I know I need to study more what this passage means.
    And verse 35:
    ….”but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s
    shall save it.”
    There is one gospel and we can know it and it is not an unimportant side issue to Jesus. If we are to lose our lives for the gospel’s sake and thus save them, then we should know what the gospel is as defined by God in the scriptures. Denying the gospel as defined by Christ unfortunately leads one to verse 38.
    Thanks, Mike!

  4. Sadly, many today defend their faith in God based almost entirely on the good things they do… They go to church, they give money to the poor, they go on mission trips (not to be confused w/evangelism). However, when it comes to things like theology, prayer, regular bible study, a growing passion for all things God, sharing the Gospel and standing for the truth w/o compromise and a growing separation from the things of the world, they shrug those off as religious dogma, legalism, fundamentalism or devisive.

    Perhaps the true test of our faith is in the area of self-sacrifice and how we respond to trials in life. Do we go through the motions of looking like a good Christian simply to make ourselves look good (or convince ourselves that we are)? Or, do we follow Christ’s guidelines in Matthew 6:1-2? Do we practice humility even when no one is looking? Do we give until it hurts or do we give without it costing us anything?

    Standing for the truth will cost us something at some point.
    A true follower of Christ will experience some form of persecution otherwise, they need to examine themselves to see if they really are following Him.

    Great post as usual- THANKS MIKE!

    ~ktf~
    John

  5. Good article, Mike. Sadly, you are right about the lack of biblical knowledge. Reminds me very much of this …

    Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst.
    Isaiah 5:13 (KJV)

  6. Yay! Wonderful, wonderful wonderful!The Spirit must be moving in me this morning, I could hardly see the words for tears.

    Mike

    ‘May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. HE WHO CALLS YOU IS FAITHFUL; HE WILL SURELY DO IT.’
    (1 Thess:5,23 – 24).

    HA HA!! How brilliant, fantastic, amazing : ))Unfathomable wonder.

  7. Hi Mike,
    Amen to your post. The peace that you will find as a christian is when you honor God. Every day now I say to myself, “Honor God and He will honor you.” I’m finding such peace these days even in trials and temptations I am remembering these words “Honor Him and He will honor you.” Mike I am reading a devotional EARS FROM HARVESTED SHEAVES by J.C. PHILPOT What a blessing it is too me.

    Cristina

  8. Matthew 7:21-23 (English Standard Version)

    I Never Knew You
    21(A) “Not everyone who(B) says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will(C) enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who(D) does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22(E) On that day(F) many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not(G) prophesy in your name, and cast out demons(H) in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23(I) And then will I declare to them, ‘I(J) never knew you;(K) depart from me,(L) you workers of lawlessness.’

    The last 4 words of God speaking to people who had many outward good deeds and preachings in the name of the Lord are the most telling: “…you workers of lawlessness.”
    Same as: ” you practicing sinners.”
    Can we even imagine that Jesus’ called out disciples would slip away at night after Jesus went to sleep or pray in the garden and practice sin?
    This is what is being taught (deception with empty words) today by the ‘workers of lawlessness’, that you can still be: ‘sexually immoral or Impure in sexuality’, ‘covetous: Idoater etc. etc…

    Ephesians 5:5-8 (English Standard Version)
    5For you may be sure of this, that(A) everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous ((B) that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6(C) Let no one(D) deceive you with empty words, for because of these things(E) the wrath of God comes upon(F) the sons of disobedience. 7Therefore(G) do not become partners with them; 8for(H) at one time you were(I) darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.(J) Walk as children of light

    Paul clearly says, these types “has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”
    They are not, “Christians”(kingdom of Christ and God), “Saved”, “Born Again”.
    They are lost, outside, undelivered, not spirtually reborn from above.
    The false teachers of a “manmade facsimile” (as Mike wrote above) type of Christianity will “go on decieving and being decieved and will be damned for thier unrepentant lies they sow into the field of the Lord as ‘Tares’ to be thrown into the fire.

    Matthew 4:17
    From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

    This message of repentance from disobedience to God (sin) and faith and action toward God has never changed nor has the command to preach this same message!
    What the ‘lawless’ preach is their is no need for repentance it is all okay.
    FALSE!
    By all degrees in today’s sinful (lawless) so-called ‘christian’ culture, Eve’s ‘simple disobedience’ in the garden is nothing for anyone to be punished for by God, yet EVERY killing, abortion, war, sexual crimes and on and on is from that 1 sinful act of disobedience to God and His spoken command to obey Him alone.
    ANYONE or ANY Teaching that says that the gravity of ‘sin’ is really no big deal is a liar and is under the control of the flesh and most of all: “the father of lies” the Devil.

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