What do you do when you run into a person who has asked “Jesus into his heart” but still leads the life of Hitler?
How should a Christian respond to someone who says that they were born again at age three but their mug shot is on the post office wall?
How should a believer appropriately deal with a “cursing like a sailor” yet “Spirit-filled, sealed by the blood” follower who also owns a strip joint?
Simple. Don’t assume that they actually are believers.
Most likely they are false converts who believed that all they had to do was pray a “simple prayer” without any repentance. Or possibly, some well-intentioned disciples surrounded the poor pagan and “made” him “accept the Savior.”
Jesus says that a believer will bear “much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” There really should be evidence of a changed life when someone calls himself a Christian. If there’s no fruit, they are still in their sins and will end up in Hell if found guilty of breaking any of God’s ten commandments, like lying, stealing, lusting, or misusing His name.
John writes, “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.” (1 John 1:6) And “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. The man who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar and the truth is not in Him. But if anyone obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in Him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:3-6)
Now back to that questionable Christian. He’s not so questionable now, is he? Although he says he loves the Lord, he still gets loaded, lies to his wife, runs guns to the Middle East and voted for the pro-choice candidate.
Don’t sweat it. Don’t argue about whether he’s truly saved or not. Treat him like a pagan by lovingly asking if he’s kept the Commandments, warning him about Judgment Day and Hell, then telling him about the Savior who died for poseurs as well.
The church can always use more ex-hypocrites!
(For more Scriptural references about how to tell believers from unbelievers as well as the church’s mandate to judge believers…)
1 John 2:15; 2:19 3:10
1 Cor 5:12-13b; 1 Peter 4:17; 1 Timothy 3:15; 2 Thessolonians 1:8-9
A good reason for judging believers: James 5 19-20