The best way to define what is a true Christian and what is a false Christian is to define true Christianity according to the Bible.  I know that many people say that this is not a good way to discover the difference because there are many forms of Christianity based on the Bible.  There are also groups that most Christians would define as cults that are based on the Bible.

I disagree with such a conclusion.  If there is false Christianity or cults based on the Bible then they have not interpreted it correctly.  Thus, they are founded on misinterpretation and falsehood.  One can misinterpret most anyone's statement if that is their wish, but everyone should agree that there are statements that cannot be misinterpreted.  For example, I could say  "I'm thirsty."  One could come up with all sorts of commentaries on that statement, but even a child understands it and everyone would eventually have to admit that the statement is declaring that I am thirsty.

The Bible has clear statements that no on should misinterpret unless of course they deliberately trying to change the meaning.  There are people who have changed the meaning of the Bible by deliberate misinterpretation in order to serve their own interests.  Such people can be dismissed as having no ethical points that one can sincerely debate them on.   There are others who just don't understand God's word and have taken the Scriptures to mean something that is incorrect.  If they are honest and reasonable, correct information should help them to clear up their error.

When it comes to Christianity, God made it clear.  He left nothing to doubt because true Christianity is the heart of the gospel.  It is what Jesus died for.  There is no way to attain heaven without true Christianity.  That makes it imperative that we know what true Christianity is.

There are just a few key points to consider when you are trying to understand what true Christianity is in the Bible.  The very first and most important point is that a true Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ.  Declaring   you are a follower of Jesus Christ is obviously not the same as actually being engaged in following Him.  To be actively following Jesus Christ you must be in the process of emulating His life.  It would benefit everyone who is seriously intent on being a true Christian to study what the Bible says about the life of Christ until they are completely familiar with His characteristics.  It is a very good starting point since the Bible says He is our example.

(John 13:14-15 NKJV) "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. {15} "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you."

(1 John 3:2-3 NKJV) "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. {3} And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure."  {7} "Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous."

(1 John 4:17 NKJV) "Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world."

The apostle Paul is the foremost example in the Bible of a person who followed Jesus Christ.  In several places he informs us how we should live in this world after committing our lives to Christ.  Since Paul wrote over two thirds of the New Testament I would have to believe God intended his words to be taken seriously.

(Rom 13:14 NKJV) "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts."

(Eph 4:20-24 NKJV) "But you have not so learned Christ, {21} if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: {22} that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, {23} and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, {24} and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness."

(A person interested in true Christianity should read the rest of chapters four and five.)

(Col 3:1-11 NKJV) "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. {2} Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. {3} For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. {4} When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. {5} Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. {6} Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, {7} in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. {8} But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. {9} Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, {10} and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, {11} where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all."

(The rest of this chapter is also full of references to being changed into the image of Christ.)

I could show you so many scriptures that I would practically post the entire New Testament because there is so much in the Bible that tells us how to live as true Christians.  The bible is not vague or so complex that we cannot understand it if indeed we are saved.  If we are not saved it is fruitless to attempt the Christ-likeness necessary for true Christianity.  That leads me to another important point, that is, the fact that God's word condemns certain activity as un Christ like and sinful.  We should be able to understand by these scriptures what God doesn't like in us and endeavor not to engage in such activities. 

(Gal 5:19-21 NKJV) "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, {20} idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissentions, heresies, {21} envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."

(1 Cor 6:9-11 NKJV) "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 homosexuals, nor sodomites, {10} nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. {11} And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God."

(Rev 21:7-8 NKJV) ""He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. {8} "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.""

In this matter there are also many more scriptures.  These scriptures and more give us a clear indication that there is right and wrong, holy and unholy, good and bad, darkness and light, God and Satan.  There is no in between, no gray zone, neither a middle ground where we may conduct both sin and righteousness.  I do know of some doctrines in professing Christianity that amount to nothing more than hell insurance.   If you believe these doctrines you can live in wanton wickedness and still be guaranteed a place in heaven.

I would not want to gamble with my soul in eternity that these sort of doctrine are true, especially since they came from man and have no foundation in the word of God.    One such doctrine is the "Once, Saved, Always Saved" doctrine that declares if you ever confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior you can live as wicked as you desire and still be admitted into heaven with eternal life.  There is nothing in God's word that ever remotely suggests such an atrocious and disgusting doctrine.

There are also denominations that insure you a place in the kingdom of heaven for the price of simply joining their group.  The Church of Christ is one such group and Roman Catholicism is another.   Some churches do not actually declare this but they imply it.  It gives the adherent a false sense of security to believe in this sort of deception.  I cannot think of a more horrible thing than to stand before the judgment throne of God and find out the church you attended all your life lied to you, caused you to live in rebellion against God and ultimately insured you a place in hell.

Jesus made it clear what God thinks of hypocrites.  Apostate people attempt to label people as hypocrites who speak the truth and challenge people to live righteous.    This is based on their belief that no one can live according to God's Word, that everyone has faults and makes mistakes.  Thus, they conclude that if no one can live righteous, no one should try and those who exhort us to live godly are hypocrites themselves.  Being a true Christian does not mean that one will never make a mistake and even sin.  It means that one has committed their life to Christ and is devoted to following Him in spite of their humanity.  The following process includes a daily spiritual growth during which one overcomes weaknesses and develops a powerful resistance against the forces of evil.    A hypocrite is not someone who occasionally sins as they endeavor to attain the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, but a true hypocrite is someone who says they have surrendered to God, but live their life as if they love the devil more than Jesus.

  (Mat 23:4-33 NKJV) ""For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. {5} "But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. {6} "They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, {7} "greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.' {8} "But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. {9} "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. {10} "And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. {11} "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. {12} "And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. {13} "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. {14} "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. {15} "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. {16} "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, 'Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.' {17} "Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? {18} "And, 'Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.' {19} "Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? {20} "Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. {21} "He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. {22} "And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it. {23} "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. {24} "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! {25} "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. {26} "Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. {27} "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. {28} "Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. {29} "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, {30} "and say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' {31} "Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. {32} "Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' guilt. {33} "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?"

These hypocrites were very religious and had a lot of rules they invented that they insisted everyone but themselves had to obey.  They would parade around in public places and in the places of worship as if they were really something, God's special people, more righteous than everyone.  In secret they were completely different.    They made business deals to cheat people out of their homes, lived lawless lives and were basically repulsive to the Lord Jesus.  Had they been truly righteous, they would have reach out to the multitudes of hurting, bound, diseased, poor and rejected people that were all about them.

It isn't enough to make sure you are pure in all your actions, even though this was certainly not the case with the Pharisee's; you have to go further with your commitment to God.  True Christianity is about more than personal righteousness.  It is also about loving the lost and the downtrodden.  Jesus said the entire law and commandments were based on these two commandments:

(Mat 22:37-40 NKJV) "Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' {38} "This is the first and great commandment. {39} "And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' {40} "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.""

Loving God is nothing more than dead religion if it does not cause you to love your fellow man.  All the goodness you could fashion in yourself is as refuse if you do not care enough about the tortured and blind souls about you to tell them about Jesus, to bind up their hurts, to help them see the love of Christ in you.

(1 John 4:20-21 NKJV) "If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? {21} And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also."

(Luke 10:30-37 NKJV) "Then Jesus answered and said: "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. {31} "Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. {32} "Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. {33} "But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. {34} "So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. {35} "On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.' {36} "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" {37} And he said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

(See the second great commandment in reference to this story.)

Today the professing church has entered into a great apostasy that I believe is the final apostasy before the second coming of Christ Jesus.  There are many hypocrites who claim Christianity yet they would never dirty their hands to help the poor or win the lost.  They fill the church pews on Sunday and listen to a twenty minute sermon that is usually more pop psychology than biblical truth.  Many of these people would rather break God's kingdom to pieces than to be broken.  What I mean by that is they will cause tremendous church strife to eject a pastor who would preach them the truth.  They are guilty of the body and blood of Jesus because they are crucifying Him afresh each time they do such a thing.


        COPYRIGHT (C) 2003 C.R. FISHER       

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