The other day in the mall, I came across life-like mannequins in convincingly natural poses. They were hanging out in an everyday setting. The bodies of the mannequins were incredibly close to a human’s and when I realized that they were not human, it was a bit disconcerting. At second glance, it was easy to see that they were different. Stores place life-like mannequins in natural settings so we see ourselves in them but, no matter how they dress them up, they are different.
When a non-believer comes across a believer, at first glance, he may think, “Well, that person is a lot like me.” However, being Christians, people should recognize that there is something different about us. II Cor. 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” In body, we may appear to be like others but, in spirit, we clearly are not.
God says that we are aliens or foreigners (I Peter 2:11) of this planet. Our home is Heaven. If the person before us does not recognize this, then we should examine ourselves. In Matt. 12:30 Jesus says, “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathers not with me scatters abroad.” Are we living for the world or are we living for Jesus Christ? The question alone conveys a stark contrast. If we are living for the world then, without question, we are not living for Christ.
Where does this leave people who believe they are Christians, but still live in the world? Let’s face it, there are many people who live in the U.S. and claim to be Christian by name alone, but every aspect in their life points to the life of a non-believer. You will hear these people say, “I prayed a prayer when I was younger, so I am a Christian.” When I hear this answer I am saddened, and I immediately think of how poorly we have evangelized in the western world.
In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul says, “Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith; prove yourselves.” Paul would not have penned this if some casual or emotional declaration in the past were the answer to deliverance. The word of God does not authenticate anyone’s salvation by his past actions but by his present state: Is he seeking God to glorify Him? There are many references to this in the New Testament. Why? Because there are many false conversions. And, as it says in scripture, these people’s faith will not stand the test of time. If there is no evidence of salvation in your life now, you need to honestly analyze who you are concerning Christ.
Matthew 5:20 says, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” The Scribes and Pharisees put on a wonderful show of righteousness, doing all the things people expected them to do. They consistently went to church, paid their tithes, fasted, and prayed. Everything a good “religious” person was supposed to do. Jesus was not duped by their religious recital. He knew their hearts. Remember, He said no one would enter the Kingdom of Heaven whose righteousness didn’t exceed the Scribes and Pharisees. Righteousness is not an act, or a studied routine. It is living by God’s standards, striving to be holy. This is the litmus test for salvation and this is what Jesus meant.
Hebrews 12:14 says, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord…” True holiness, a heart seeking God, cannot be counterfeit. If you have been living a life that does not feel as it should while claiming to be a Christian, please examine yourself. Your eternal salvation is at stake. If you didn’t come to Jesus Christ devastated over your sins, turning your life completely toward God (repentance), then you may be a false convert.
Repentance is the gateway to a new life. Without it, there is no salvation.
So, as with the mannequins, are you different – set apart? When people interact with you, do they notice you are unlike the world or do you closely resemble the world? Seek God and take the time to examine yourself today.
Stephen John Spivey