I have been concerned about the number of people who say they are "Christians". It seems that everyone I talk to says, or believes, they are. You have to wonder because Jesus said there would be few that would walk on the narrow and straight way, but ninety to one hundred percent of the people I talk to say they are. Is there a litmus test to discover who is real and who isn't? Is there some guideline that we can go by to determine who is a Christian and who isn't? Can we know if we are being deceived into believing we are a Christian when we are not?
Yes, there is. (By the way, before you throw the "judge not" card on me, the Bible tells us to judge righteous judgment and there is a difference in discovering the truth and making a judgment call about something. Correct judgment is based on truth and fact.)
The test is called transformation. The true Christian life is a life of transformation, not just a life of change. Some people change a few habits and consider that Christianity. But there is a difference between change and transformation. Here is the best definition that I have found: Change uses external influences to modify actions, but transformation modifies beliefs so actions become natural.
When Jesus comes into our lives (which is the only way and entrance into Christianity-- you must be born again), He doesn't just change us, He transforms us. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." (2 Corinthians 5:17) He changes us from the inside out. The change is internal and begins to show up externally. He calls us into a life of transformation, which is not a "one time" thing, but a continual process throughout the rest of our lives. There is also a goal behind this transformation-- transformed to look like Him.
Transformation doesn't just change our actions, it changes our beliefs. Once our beliefs are changed, our actions will demonstrate that belief. Transformation changes us into something we were not before. Before I was a Christian I was selfish and self-centered, now I am others and Christ focused. Before it was all about what I wanted, now it is all about the will of God. Before I was hateful, spiteful, bitter, mean, ill tempered, lustful, unkind, etc. Now I have love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, etc. in my life. That is who I am now-- not just what I do. I have been transformed.
There is another litmus test. It is called love. "By this all men will know that you are My disciples. If you have love for one another." (John 13:35) True love, Christ's love, transforming love is not selfish or boastful, puts others first, bears with others, believes for good, hopes and endures. It does not keep a record of wrong. It keeps on going and does not stop.
Just because a person says they are a Christian does not make them one. Jesus Christ comes into our lives and along with Him comes transformation. If you still act like, behave like, think like, you always did before you became a "Christian", then you may be a Christian in word only. You better check and find out for sure, this is too important to not know the truth.
Have a great day. The test of whether you are really a Christian is not in the fact that there has been some change, but in the fact that you are being transformed.
For further reading:
1 Corinthians 13
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Coffee Break is a morning devotional written by Lorraine Ezell
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