John Newton wrote the song Amazing Grace in 1779. By his own words he
was a vile and wretched man until he gave his heart to Jesus and
followed Him the rest of his life. Mr. Newton knew of the amazing grace
of God, and every true Christian has also a personal experience of that
same amazing grace.
We were all vile and wretched before knowing Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, but then He cleaned us up and put us on a new pathway to follow Him.
As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." "Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit." "The poison of vipers is on their lips." "Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-18)
But thanks be to God "Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them." (Romans 4:7-8)
To understand just how awesome God's grace really is, perhaps we should stop and consider the utter hopelessness of our predicament without Him. Every man, woman and child (past the point of accountability) is doomed for an everlasting hell, a place apart from God, in absolute darkness and fiery torment.
The common thought among fallen man is that our good deeds will outweigh our bad deeds and we will be accepted into the Heavenly realm upon our death. Also, I am convinced more and more than many today believe that it doesn't matter that we live in sin, we still to go Heaven. Several well-known people have died over the past years that have lived a life in the sewer, but because they are loved by family, friends, and fans it is believed by these same people that the deceased will be welcomed in Heaven.
Now before you open your mouth, I am completely aware that there is only one thing that can be done to reward us with Heaven when we die; i.e. true belief in Jesus Christ. Works do not save anyone. Nothing can save but the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. By Him we are saved and Him only. He is the only way period. Now that that is settled, I'll move on.
Having faith in Jesus or believing in Him, both are the same, is more than a movement of the mouth based on a half-hearted response to the Gospel. Anybody can say, "I am Christian." Since only God knows for sure who is and who is not, we'll certainly leave that area up to Him. I'm sure that's not in my 'pay grade,' and most certainly it is not in yours either.
The point is, I'm hearing more and more say or imply that they are Christian, but other than that, nothing is evident in their lives that this is true. Again, we'll leave the final determination to God. It is in His 'pay-grade.' The Bible does however make it very clear that when you plant an acorn you will get an oak tree. I'm not seeing many oak trees. Are you?
Sins do not send anyone to hell, except for the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ. Works, good or bad, do not get us to Heaven. Jesus is the only way to Heaven. He is the door, the life, the light, the only pathway. So no one should be flippant about claiming to be a Christian when their very life proves they do not believe in the only one sent of God for salvation.
The power of God in a man, woman or child is a life changer. God changes lives. All through our lives He is sanctifying us, bringing us to our final perfection once we arrive in Heaven. Since we have nothing within us to make us righteous on earth, we are clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ. In Him we are always righteous, clean without spot, from the day of our salvation to all eternity. So obviously Christians, in our mortal bodies, still sin, but we strive through the power of the Holy Spirit within us to follow Jesus simply because of our ever growing love toward Him.
Think about this. Jesus said on numerous occasions, "Follow Me." I repeat, on numerous occasions He said, "Follow Me." Jesus is not going to lead us into sinful thoughts and actions. For example: Jesus is not going to lead us into homosexuality, adultery, illicit drug use, child abuse, fornication, lying, greed, lust of money, jealousy, murder, theft, pride, etc. He will lead us away from them.
When a person is truly saved, Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, will lead that person out of that sinful state. Jesus will not lead us into sin folks. He will help us flee from it. Will we still sin occasionally? You bet your sneakers we will, but a Christian knows what sin is, is miserable in sin, and runs from it. We may get snagged in it again, but again our goal is to run from it once more with the power of God on our side.
So if your life is consumed with sin (disobedience to God's will) and you have no desire to repent of it, don't try to convince me that you know Jesus. The only way you will ever know Jesus is that He will be your judge at the white throne judgment.
If you identify yourself as clergy and homosexual in the same breath, you have no business behind that pulpit. You need to be on your knees in repentance before God and get saved.
When people who claim to be a Christian are lying, stealing, gossiping, murdering, on drugs, alcoholics, homosexuals, adulterers, hateful, greedy, etc. it is no wonder that people are confusing a lie straight from Satan with real bona fide Christianity.
Now for the Good News of God's Amazing Grace: Anyone, I repeat, anyone can be saved and thereby a true Christian by really trusting in Jesus. That person can say, "Here I am Lord. I believe you and will follow you, and I trust you that when I fall you will pick me up." No matter what you 'were,' God can change you.
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such WERE (emphasis mine) some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
Notice that Paul says, "Such WERE (emphasis mine) some of you." God changes lives. Now that's grace folks. God can take our lousy messed up lives and completely turn us around. It doesn't matter what you were. God can change that. However, if you think you can just claim the name of "Christian," but have no desire to follow Jesus, you're just fooling yourself. You may call yourself a sheep, but you're still a pig, continuing to wallow in your own sinful slop.
Jesus will never lead anyone to the pig sty. He will only lead us to be holy.
"For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. For I am the LORD that bringeth you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: ye shall therefore be holy, for I am holy." (Leviticus 11:44-45)
"But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16)
Have you ever tried to change your life from bad to good? Have you ever tried to stop a sinful action? You can't do it can you? That's because it's a heart problem, and only God can mend a heart. Only God can truly change a person. When a person legitimately comes to Jesus to be saved, they will be changed. It may not happen overnight, and it will be slower for some than others, but it will happen. But for those who have not changed, and don't want to change, stop identifying yourself with Christ. You don't know Him, and until you do, you are not one of His.
Now consider what God can do if you are willing.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Ephesians 2:8-10)
God is holy and does not walk in sin. He will lead us in righteousness away from sin. He makes us holy by His righteousness. So let us not claim his holiness, when we live in sin and refuse His gracious gift of grace through His Son, Jesus Christ.