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I'm not a practicing Christian

By Ron Graham

 

 

Whenever I’m confronted by someone who says they are a Christian but not a practicing Christian it really makes me cringe. I don’t know where that phrase first came from, but after studying the Bible for years my first thoughts go to what Jesus taught about those who think they're saved. “Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.” Matthew 25:11. And also “Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.” Luke 13:26-28.

I recently received an e-mail from a lady, who is a fairly new believer, who had a complaint against a friend of hers. She’s known this friend for 30 years. When this lady told her friend that she had become a born again believer in Christ, the friend told her that she, too, was a Christian. For 30 years they had known each other and had enjoyed a close relationship, but the friend had never brought up Jesus Christ in conversation.

If we are truly born again, Jesus is our best friend and we love Him more than anything. Is there any chance we would live thirty years as a follower of Jesus Christ and never mention Him to others? If we are truly living the Christian’s experience, the lost will take notice of that fact. That’s our opportunity to discuss the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them, unless we are no longer a practicing Christian.

If someone who at one time considered themselves a Christian no longer has a desire to practice Christianity (live a Christ-centered life) then they will have no desire to promote the truth of God’s word, and so the question arises: Are they really born again? Are they following Jesus’ commands? “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:30. Certainly if anyone makes the claim “I’m not a practicing Christian” they aren’t standing up for Jesus Christ by winning souls. 

When someone admits to no longer being “a practicing Christian” it tells me they are much more concerned with the world and with all of its tentacles than with Christ. This concern for the worldly pleasures will result in a thorough neglect of the truth of God’s word. They will quickly revert back to their old way of life. They want little or nothing to do with other believers. This, in itself, is quite telling. Think about it. Just where is Jesus in their heart? And, of course, reading their Bibles becomes non-existent.

When Christians stop associating with likeminded brethren and become embroiled in worldly affairs and with worldly folks who have no use for God and certainly no regard for His word, they will begin to renounce Christianity, and the following mantra will become their phrase of choice “I’m not a practicing Christian”. It’s offensive and discouraging to be confronted by someone making that statement. You’re either a Christian or you’re not. “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” Titus 1:16.

Recently I came across an old friend from high school and began an e-mail correspondence with this person. I knew my friend had attended a Christian elementary school until entering high school. We talked about our families and the old days in school. Before long, my e-mails began to include Jesus and what He has done in my life. As I broached the subject of Christ with my friend, I also began sending this person my commentaries. Almost immediately I was asked to discontinue our e-mail exchange. Why? Because the views I now hold are quite different than those I held as a senior in high school, some forty years ago. I had changed and this old friend had become worldlier. The last e-mail I received from this person held almost exclusively these words, “I’m no longer a practicing Christian, and I do not agree with your conservative stance on things.” I was then asked not to e-mail again. “He shall die without instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.” Proverbs 5:23.

I may get a lot of e-mail on this subject and that’s fine, but personally I see a huge gulf between a Christian, that is a true believer and follower of Jesus Christ, and a person who claims “I’m no longer a practicing Christian”. That gulf may very well span the same distance as Heaven and Hell. The chasm between these two concepts of being someone who is devoted to Jesus Christ and someone who declines to have an association with Jesus may very well span eternity. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15. Can anyone honestly love Jesus without keeping His commandments? “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” 1 John 2:19.

To me the life of a Christian is not just something we practice but it’s a new way of life we’ve chosen to embark on. We live our new life in Christ daily; there are 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week, and we are to be an active follower of Jesus Christ in every waking moment. Believers don’t turn on and off their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as the hour dictates. We belong to Him. He owns us. He gives us our marching orders and we follow His commands. Believers can’t walk away from everything Jesus teaches and still claim to be a born again Christian; it’s an obvious contradiction which has lead to open apostasy. (Here come the e-mails). Again, the question must be broached: Was that person really ever born again?

I’m not trying to be judgmental with these observations. I am not God and I can’t see into a person’s heart. That’s God’s domain and His alone. Yet He tells us to look to a person for the fruit that they produce to determine their relationship with Him. “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.” Matthew 12:33. Jesus made this statement while speaking to the Pharisees about blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. In God’s view there is no in between. Rejecting the message given us by the Holy Spirit is the only sin that will not be forgiven, either in this life or the one to come. Aren’t those who are no longer practicing Christians rejecting the message?   

True born again followers of Christ no longer want to have anything to do with that old sinful life. We are filled with remorse each time we stumble and take a step back. Our lives as Christians are focused on our first love, our most precious love, Jesus the Christ. Everything is second to our Lord and Savior. Jesus wants to be where we know He should be in our lives – at the highest rung on the ladder of our lives. The reason the Bible warns us so vividly against apostasy and false prophets is because true conversion can only be measured by visible fruit. “Ye shall know them by their fruits...” Matthew 7:16a. Non-practicing Christians will find it virtually impossible to bear fruit for the Kingdom of God because they aren’t interested in doing so. They want their cake and to eat it too (they want to live like the world but inherit Christ’s promises).

Those who make the claim “I’m no longer a practicing Christian” wish to remain neutral. They are fence sitters. From afar they see the path of least resistance and are able to change their colors like a chameleon so as to not be detected as a rival by whomever they see approaching. To be truly born again is not an easy road. Persecution can and will come into the lives of all believers, even from one’s own family and friends, and this, my brethren, can be daunting. But there is no neutral ground when it comes to following Jesus. “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” Matthew 12:30. Jesus Himself tells all those who would make such a statement as “I’m no longer a practicing Christian” they are in big trouble. Therefore one must weigh the cost to see whether or not following Jesus is worth the final prize.

Folks such as those who claim this status of “I’m a Christian but I don’t really want to live my life like you other Christians” can be easily manipulated by God’s adversary. They grow in their acceptance of the worldly influence and before long they can no longer see truth. They become adverse and blinded to the truth. What was once preached to them at church is foolishness, and now they put their faith and trust in what is preached to them from their television sets. Blindness to God’s truth turns the world upside down. Black is white, up is down, right is wrong, good is evil, love is hate, and on it goes.

I am a firm believer that once a person is born again, born from above, born from God, that person is forever in God’s hands. It’s God’s responsibility to keep us that way. I can almost hear the computers being fired up and readied to bombard me with an onslaught of e-mails refuting my claim. Guess what? God declares it so. Of course I must agree with God. “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30. Paul tells us that those who are born from above, born from God, have the Holy Spirit of God sealed within them unto the day of redemption. That’s God claim, His promise. Who am I to argue the point?

There’s an old movie that includes the following line, “It’s not my fault, I only read it”. Those who were listening to him read from that particular news story tried to blame this guy for the bad news he continually read to them. In my case, though, it’s only good news; you can’t lose your salvation if you are truly born again, period. Here’s the rub; those who were once professing Christians but who now recite the statement “I’m no longer a practicing Christian” may not have the Holy Spirit sealed within them, thus they may be in for quite the surprise as they reach their eternal destination.

There are many people, especially here in America, who claim the title of “Christian”, yet haven’t a clue as to what that title encompasses, which in turn makes it easy to claim a position of non-practicing Christian. They have no comprehension of what it means to live a life devoted to Christ therefore they have no idea the consequences of that statement and how it puts them at odds with the Savior of the world. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22, 23. These nine characteristics will become evident in the life of a true believer in Christ.

How can anyone take the position “I’m no longer a practicing Christian” when they know the truth? Perhaps they never really believed and what they heard about Jesus was robbed from them at some point by Satan. Take a look at the explanation Jesus gives His disciples when asked about the parable of the sower. “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.” Luke 8:5-14. In this parable Jesus is speaking about those who would make the following statement “I’m no longer a practicing Christian”. They no longer hold on to the hope and joy of knowing who Jesus really is.

“These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.” John 16:1. Offended in the Greek is “skandalizō”. The complete meaning behind the rendering of this word is: To put a stumbling block or impediment in the way, upon which another may trip and fall, metaphorically to offend, to entice to sin, to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey, to cause to fall away. Jesus taught all things to His disciples and to us so that we “should not be offended”, fall way. 

I’m continually being bashed about by my brethren for my biblical stance on abortion, homosexuality, same sex marriage and the fact that I believe Obama is the worst and most offensive Muslim to invade the U.S. in the last 233 years. Those who make the statement “I’m no longer a practicing Christian” will never feel the heat of persecution and maybe that’s why they continue to recite that statement. Perhaps it just got too hot in the kitchen. Those who make that offensive statement are most certainly at odds with the Creator of the universe.






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