Is My Christianity Real? Pt. 1

Is My Christianity Real? Pt. 1

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 13:5, Lamentations 3:40, Haggai 1:5
Date: 07/07/2018 
Do we know that our Christianity is authentic? We get preoccupied with the actions and forget about our attitude. Part 1 of 2

Is It Possible to Live Without Sinning? - Paper or PDF Download

Is It Possible to Live Without Sinning? - Paper or PDF Download
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Doug Batchelor: At four feet tall, the emperor penguin is the largest penguin species in the world. Every spring, these majestic birds travel up to 75 miles inland on the Arctic ice pack, walking and sliding on their bellies to arrive at one of the most desolate and remote places on earth. Once the female lays an egg, her male companion quickly rolls it onto his feet and covers it with a fold of his fat, feathery fur to keep it warm. While the females leave to feed in the ocean for about two months, the males huddle together in clusters for protection from the frigid wind, incubating the eggs on their feet, while enduring the brutally cold, dark winter. Emperor penguins demonstrate some of the most patient devotion and warm love for their young of any creatures. And they do this in the coldest conditions on earth, where temperatures can drop to 85 below zero.

The Bible says in the last days, because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But your love can stay warm even in a cold world. As a Christian, are you warming those around you with God's love? At the heart of all of this is the question, is your Christianity real? Join me now, friends, as we look at what the Bible has to say on this very important topic.

Doug: I heard one time about this mission organization that was placing missionaries in different parts of the world. They had a unique way of testing the missionaries. The candidate was told to arrive at three in the morning for the exam, three in the morning. And so, this one candidate, he came at three in the morning, he went to the room where he was supposed to meet the examiner, and he waited there until five in the morning, nobody there. So, he waited a little longer until eight in the morning, finally the examiner came in at eight in the morning. He said, "Can you please spell the word 'baker' for me?" He said, "Baker, B-A-K-E-R." He said, "Very good." Said, "Now, can you please tell me how much is two times two?" He said, "Four." He said, "Very good." He said, "I think that the mission board is going to accept you as a missionary." And he got up and he left. That afternoon, the examiner went and he met with the mission board, he said, "You know, that candidate that I had an appointment with," he said, "I think he's going to make a good missionary." Said, "I tested him on self-denial. He got out of a warm bed on a cold night while I know he was still tired, and he came. So, I tested him on patience. I made him then wait from three in the morning until eight in the morning before I showed up. I then tested him on humility. I asked him questions that any child would understand, and he was not offended. Then I asked him a simple equation of addition, and he answered it correctly and politely." And he said, "He's got what it takes to be a missionary." It's going to require self-denial, perseverance, patience, humility.

And so, they were tests. Well, there are tests in the Bible. There--if you're saying, "Doug, how do I know if my Christianity is real? I want to know, can I know?" Good news, there's a test. The Bible actually gives you several tests. And so, we're going to ask that very important question today, is my Christianity real? And is there a way to know? Well you know, the Bible tells us that if we are going to do something about counterfeit Christianity, or if our Christianity isn't real, first you've got to identify that, is that right? And so, there's some preventative screening that happens.

Now, I don't know if you've been to the doctor for a regular checkup, but if you go for a checkup, you don't always want to wait until you're sick and then go to the doctor. As you get a little older, they say you ought to go do some preventative health screening. Something simple like a blood pressure check, you could prevent death by a simple test like that. A blood test that could tell you about your blood sugar. Diabetes can kill a person, you can slip into a coma. It could tell you about your cholesterol levels, that could help you prevent a heart attack. A whole scope of different things can be determined by that, cancer. And so, doing some preventative screening can save your life.

How many of you have known somebody and they came down with some terrible terminal disease, and then somebody will say, "If they had only had that checked a little sooner, they could have done something, but they waited too long." You ever heard that? They waited until it was too late. Right now, praise the Lord, if you're alive and hearing my voice, you probably have not grieved away the Holy Spirit and it's not too late for you to ask those important and penetrating questions: is my Christianity real? Because there will come a time when it'll be too late. So, now's the time to find out. How sad it will be on that day to find out that you are self-deceived, that you figured, well, this was the world's standard of Christianity and I measured up to the world's standard, and so I thought I was going to make it. But to hear the words from Jesus say, "I'm sorry, I don't know you," I can't think of anything more frightening than that. And so, if you're going to know, don't you want to know? And wouldn't you want to know soon enough to make a difference?

Now, some people get angry when I talk like this. And they reproach me and they say, "Pastor Doug, you are so works behavior-oriented. We are not supposed to be looking at ourselves. We're just supposed to be looking at Jesus." And it is true, a Christian principally wants to fix their eyes on Jesus. But what I'm saying to you is biblical, and we're a Bible church. Listen to what Paul says. 2 Corinthians 13:5, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves." There is a time for us to scrutinize, to test, to examine. I'm going to come back to this verse, but I want to show you it's not the only one 'cause you need at least two or three witnesses here. Lamentations 3:40, "Let us search our and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord." It's talking about a search. In the book of Haggai chapter 1, verse 5, "Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, 'Consider your ways.'"

So, do I have your support that there is a time, the Bible says that every now and then, we ought to do a little bit of introspection and then figure out if there needs to be some changes? Now, you don't want to be driving a car looking in the rearview mirror all the time. The rearview mirror is there and it's very important, but if you spend all your time looking in the rearview mirror, you're going to have an accident. You got to be looking where you're going. So, principally a Christian wants to be forward thinking, amen? You want to look ahead, you want to keep your eyes on Jesus. You want to keep your eyes on the goal. But every now and then, you better check your mirrors. You better take--situational awareness is what they call it. And make sure that you're where you're supposed to be, you're not drifting into the wrong lane or someone's not coming up behind you, going to plow into you. And so, there needs to be a self test. The heart needs to be changed.

We need to know that we're converted. If our hearts are changed, if we are born again, there'll be a difference. So, how do you know if you're a real Christian?

Number one, going to start right with the most important, love. Do you love the Lord supremely? What's the great commandment? Love the Lord with a little bit of your heart. What percentage, eighty-five percent? Isn't that greedy that God would want 100%? Thou shalt love the Lord with all of your heart, all of your soul, all of your mind. And this is a test. Gospel of John chapter 14, verse 23, Jesus said, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come and make our abode with him. He that does not love me does not keep my word." So, what's one of the criteria for loving the Lord? Keeping his word. 1 John 2:15 and 16, "If anyone loves the world," meaning more than Jesus, "the love of the Father's not in him. For all that's in the world, the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life, it's not from the Father, but it's from the world." James 4:4, "Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."

So, we're going to have a struggle going on, and one of the principle tests is, do we love the Lord? Now, what if we find, Lord, I don't love you as much as I should? Or maybe some of you are thinking, "You know, I love the Lord, but I used to love him more. When I first became a Christian, I was ready to do anything, go anywhere Jesus wanted me to go. I was so grateful when I realized he died for me on the cross." Well, there's hope. Jesus speaking to the church in Ephesus, he said in Revelation 2:4, "Nevertheless I have something against you in that you've left your first love." He didn't say you don't love me anymore. You just don't love me the way you first did. A lot of couples might say that too. Remember therefore, so what's the solution? "Remember from where you have fallen. Repent and do the first works, or else I'll come to you quickly and remove your candlestick from its place."

Now, I want you to notice something, that in the verse that's really the foundation for this whole sermon, 2 Corinthians 13:5, he said, "Examine yourself to see if you're in the faith, whether you're in the faith." What does that mean? There's a possibility that you might think you are and you're not, so how do you know? Tests. Now, there's two words he uses, examine and then he says test.

Doug: Don't go anywhere, friends. In just a moment, we'll return for the rest of today's presentation. Did you know that aviation engineers have studied the bumblebee and determined with their small wings and their fat, hairy bodies, it is aerodynamically impossible for them to fly. But fortunately, the bumblebees have not read those reports yet, so they keep on flying. Sounds ridiculous, I know, yet amazingly many Christians say the same thing when it comes to obeying God. They say it's impossible for Christians to really live a holy life, but are they right? To help get your answers, Amazing Facts would like to send you a special book that's called "Is It Possible to Live Without Sinning?" Don't be scared by the title. This short, thought-provoking guide will highlight the biblical tools that God has provided you to help become a new creature and live a joyful new life. The practical steps to become an obedient Christian will open the door for you to receive the amazing rewards God has promised his victorious children. To get your free copy, call the number on your screen and ask for offer number 187. Or visit the web address. And after you read this incredible resource, make sure and share it with a friend. Well now, let's get back to the rest of today's presentation and learn some more amazing facts from the Word of God.

Doug: You ever shop for a car? I don't know about you, but when that happens, half the fun of a new car for me is shopping. Before I even buy it, I have fun doing the research. Now you can get online, there's all these tools that you can line up all the different models, there are comparisons. You can find horsepower, horsepower, gas economy, or comforts, all the different--I just love doing that stuff. And then you go and you walk around it. And as soon as you walk on a car lot, you know, they're circling. And you think, "Oh, there's nobody here." You get out of your car, five people show up. And they're very nice. And you start asking them a few questions, then you walk around, you kick the tires, you look at the sticker, you have a heart attack, right? And then if you're really interested, you don't walk in and say, "Okay, let's sign at the bottom line." Even the salesman would be shocked if you didn't say, "Let's take it for a drive."

So, when you're testing yourself, the Word is talking about really taking a serious, honest look in and around your heart and your life and find out, am I measuring up? So, one thing is, do I really love the Lord? Another test is not only loving God, it's hating evil. How did you know Job was a man of God? Says there was a perfect and upright man, so Job's a good example, right? Job's going to be in heaven. Says he loved the Lord, he hated evil. It's not just loving the right things, it's hating the wrong things. And the longer you walk with the Lord, the more you will hate sin.

You've heard it said before the longer I live, the more I know I don't know, right? It's also true the longer you walk with the Lord, the more sinful sin will appear. If you're drifting from God, the more you begin to accommodate and ignore sin. So, does sin grieve you is one of the tests. The great commandment, love the Lord, love your neighbor, love yourself. Sin is the opposite of that. Sin hurts God, it hurts others, and it hurts you. And so, you've got to recognize sin as an awful thing that it is.

Ezra, you ever read about this? In Ezra chapter 9, verse 3, when Ezra heard about the terrible things that some of the people were doing, he said, "I tore my garment and my robe. I plucked out some of my hair and sat down astonished." He was so grieved, and it wasn't even his sin, it was the sin of the people. David, when he realized about his sin, he said, "I have sinned." It says therefore he pleaded with God. He fasted, he laid on his face all night for seven days because of the sin. Now, we live in a sin-saturated world. And you can get used to it, and that's dangerous. Romans 7:13, Paul said, "Sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful." We want to understand the--Paul said, "You know, before I was converted, I thought I was a great Pharisee. And then sin revived and I died. I saw myself for what I really am."

Sometimes, it's only in the light of the cross we see how bad sin is. And so, that, I think, is an accurate test. Another verse, Isaiah 33:15, "He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, he shuts his eyes from seeing evil." Sounds like a fanatic, but listen to what Isaiah says, "He will dwell on high with the Lord." The person who is offended, plug their ears, hearing of violence. They shake their hands when someone tries to bribe them. They cover their eyes from seeing evil. You know what that's called? That's trying to be holy in a wicked world. You'll have an attitude where you'll understand something about the sinfulness of sin.

So, as you continue to walk closer with the Lord, you may spot more and more wrong with your life. That doesn't mean you're not saved. Really, it's a test, are you still sensitive about sin? Or have you gotten where you're just not bothered by it anymore because too over-exposed, you become numb? It's like a person who lives by the railroad track and they just don't hear the train anymore, right? Or you're in the flight path of an airport, you don't even notice. Friends are visiting, the whole house is shaking as a jet comes in for landing, and you go, "What noise?" You just don't hear it. Or a teenager who learns to sleep through the alarm clock. It wakes up everybody in the house, but it doesn't wake them up. It's kind of frightening, that's where you get to the point where you're grieving away the Holy Spirit when you're not convicted by sin. It's a dangerous thing. So, that's one of the tests. And so, that's test number two.

Number three, do I obey Jesus as Lord? We often call him our Savior, and some say Lord and Savior. Well, what is a lord? A lord is someone who gives commands and you obey no matter how difficult those commands might be. Now, this is a Bible test. 1 John 1:6, "If we say we have fellowship with him and we walk in darkness, we lie and we do not practice the truth." John 14:15, he said, "If you love me," you know that, "keep my commandments," amen? 1 John 2, verse 3 through 6, "Now by this we know him, if we keep his commandments, he who says, 'I know him,' and does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps his word, truly the love of God is perfected in him."

Now, what's the reason for keeping it? A love of God. By this we know that we are in him. Notice the wording here. Paul said, "Let us examine ourselves whether we are in the faith, whether we are in Christ. John tells us here's a test. By this we know if we are in him. He that says he abides in him ought himself to walk as he walked. But what do you get when you do that? You get everything else.

Being a real Christian means that you obey the Lord. You're not just a hearer of the Word. James 1, chapter 1, verse 22, "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." That's what I don't want, friends. I don't want to come and stand before the Lord in that day, what you think of me doesn't matter at all, do you know that? I mean, there's days I care, but in the big picture, it doesn't matter. What's really going to matter is what does he think. Isn't that right? What you promise me doesn't matter. What he promises me is what matters. And if I stand before him and he says, "I don't know you," because I've deceived myself--James says, "Here's one of the ways you could deceive yourself is thinking if I've got the words, I don't need the deeds." He said, "If you're not a doer of the word and only a hearer, you're deceiving yourself. For anyone who is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he's like a man who observes his face in a mirror; he observes himself, and he goes away and immediately forgets what kind of man he is. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty," meaning the commandments, "and continues in it, not being a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be," cursed? No, he'll be blessed.

You want to be blessed? There's also blessings that come with the commandments. Now, is God asking us to keep 80%? Do we get a 10% discount and he just wants 90%? Some churches think 90% is all you need. Or does the Lord say, Deuteronomy chapter 5, I think it's verse 29, "Oh, that my people would fear me and keep all of my commandments always that it might be well with them," that's a blessing, "and their children forever." He's calling us to obey all that we know. And he promises you'll be blessed. This is how you separate the genuine from the counterfeit.

Now, I'm not saying that you're not a real Christian if you sin. Is that clear? The Bible makes that clear. You look at 1 John 1:8, the same guy who said you need to be a doer of the word and obey, he said, "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves." Now, he's talking to the church there. But what's the difference for the true Christian? What has dominion? Paul says, "Do not let sin reign." Reign is on the throne. Do not let sin have dominion over you.

Sin should not control your life. There should be no area of your life where the devil has a regular foothold. It doesn't mean that we don't fall, it doesn't mean we don't make mistakes. You have to apply these tests and you'll understand. There are fruits of sin. It's adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousy, outbursts of wrath, you have an anger problem, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, evil, murders, drunkenness, revelry, and the like. Those are called the fruits of the flesh. He says, "Let all fornication and uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named once among you, as fitting for saints." So, there ought to be a difference in the life of the saints. "Whoever says, 'I know him,' and does not keep his commandments," he says is a liar.

All right, test number four. Talked about a loving God. Who else are you supposed to love? Your neighbor. Do you love your neighbor? Jesus said that his followers will be known by love. "By this all people will know that we are his disciples, by our love for one another." 1 John 4:20, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' and he hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother who he has seen, how can he love God who he has not seen? And this is the commandment that we have of him. Whoever loves God must also love his brother." So, is that clear or is that ambiguous? Or I should unambiguous? Again, Jesus said, "Everyone who is angry with his brother without cause is liable of judgment." We're supposed to love our brothers. Matthew chapter 6, verse 14, "If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

So, one of the tests is not only do you just love people, do you care about the needs of others? Do you have sympathy and compassion in your heart for others? Do the crying need of poverty and the problems in the world when people don't know the gospel, do you feel concern for your fellow man? But have you forgiven people? You know, Jesus said that this is the benchmark. He said if you're going to come to my altar and ask for mercy, but you've got anger in your heart for someone else, Jesus says what? "Leave your gift at the altar. Go be reconciled with your brother, then bring your gift."

The Bible says you should love your neighbor, and the Bible says you should love your enemy. I think that it's interesting that he says love your neighbor, which is your nigh brother, and then he says love your enemy. And it is possible that's because so often in the Bible, your nigh brother becomes your enemy. You notice the biggest problems in the Bible was with friendly fire. Joseph's brothers sell him. David's son hunts him. David's king tries to kill him. You often find the disciples are arguing among themselves which of them is the greatest. Sometimes, it's those closest. And there are people who are married for years to people that they feel like they're enemies. What could be closer than a spouse?

So, part of salvation is loving and forgiving those that are close to you. That would be brothers and sisters in the church. What's going to do the most for evangelism? All men will know you are my disciples by your love for one another. In the early church, they would marvel, they'd say, "See how they love each other." And so, this is one of the criteria. Do we have that primitive Christian love? Have we forgiven others? You know, one of Abraham Lincoln's early political rivals was a man named Edwin Stanton. And he was just absolutely vicious in his attacks of Lincoln for his politics. He called Lincoln an ape, a gorilla. He called him terrible things. Well, when Lincoln became president, he said, "I want Stanton to be the secretary of war." And everyone said, "Are you kidding? He's your worst enemy." He said, "Yeah, but he's the best man for the job, and I've forgiven him." You know who spoke at Lincoln's funeral? Stanton. And he said, "Here lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen," because Lincoln knew how to forgive. And he knew that he put into practice the things that he saw in the Bible.

Another test. This one you already knew, what are the fruits? Jesus said you'll know them by the fruit. What kind of fruit are you bearing in your life? Galatians 5:22, "Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." You're not saved by your works, but your fruit is going to tell whether or not you are saved. Do you have the fruits of the Spirit? If the Holy Spirit is in your life, you're saved. If you're being led by the Spirit, you're saved. And what is the fruit of the Holy Spirit ruling in your life? It's going to be all those good things. Galatians tells us that, then Matthew chapter 7 said, "Do men gather figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree will bear good fruit." You want to know if you're real or not, what kind of fruit? "A bad tree has bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. By their fruits you'll know them."

You ever heard the expression if it swims like a duck, if it waddles like a duck, if it paddles like a duck, if it flies like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, what is it? It's a duck, isn't that right? And so, you start applying some of these tests and you say, does he talk like a Christian? Does he spend like a Christian? Does he love like a Christian? Does he or she obey like a Christian? That's a Christian. Do you have the fruits? You know what else, Jesus doesn't just say you're supposed to have the right fruits, you're supposed to have lots of them. Says every branch that abides in me will bear much fruit. So, you might say, "Well, I got a little love, and I do make a little donation, and I do--" I mean, you know, even the people in jail obey God some of the time, so you're going to find a little bit of good in everything. But Christians should have much fruit in their lives, amen?

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