Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Who are we fooling?

Hebrews 3:12 - "See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God."

Deceit can occur both outwardly and inwardly.  An example of outward deceit is when we attempt to convince someone else that something is true of us, when we know it is not true of ourselves.  Inward deceit can occur when we attempt to convince ourselves that something about ourselves is false, when we know in our heart that it is true.

Take two cans of pure white paint.  In the presence of someone else, add a single drop of black paint to the one of the cans.  Stir it in completely.  Has the compostion of the paint permanently changed?  Can it continue to be referred to as "pure white paint"?

With the second can, tell the other person with you that, prior to their arrival, you add a drop of black paint to it.  By all appearances, it still looks to the other person to be pure white paint.  However, all they have to go on is the proclamation by you that it has been stained and is no longer pure white.  Only you know the truth about whether or not you stained the pure white paint, or if you are lying to the other person.

If you were to deny to the other person that you added a drop of black paint to the first can of white paint, they would know that you are lying.  They saw you do it, and they will not be convinced otherwise.  To argue it didn't happen is to argue a fact that is known to both them and you.  You are clearing lying to both them and yourself.

If you deny to the other person that you added a drop of black paint to the second can of white paint, they wouldn't know which of your statements to believe.  The belief that you added the black paint was solely based on your own disclosure.  Therefore, if that original statement is retracted, the other person has no factual basis to continue to believe that the black paint was added.  All they have to go on is your word.

When someone receives eternal salvation by acceptance of Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior through faith in His atoning sacrifice on the cross, they are transformed into a new living being by the presence of the Holy Spirit in their heart.  The immediate transformation is significant, yet not complete.  Perseverance in the faith leads to progressive sanctification where the Holy Spirit guides one to increasingly develop the character of Christ.  But once this initial acceptance and receipt of grace through faith has truly occurred, a person is never the same as they were before.

The writer of Hebrews was addressing those who were formerly of the Jewish faith, who had since proclaimed their faith in Jesus.  After facing resistance and persecution, some were in danger of reverting back to the Jewish customs.  Those who were in danger of going back to the Jewish faith can logically be placed in one of two categories.  The first is those who truly accepted Christ and received the Holy Spirit, but now would be willing to live as if it did not occur.  The second are those who proclaimed to have received Christ, but now would be reverting to what remained true in their hearts.  Which of the two categories they belong in is only truly known by the individual and God Himself.

The two categories are like the two cans of white paint.  With the first can, we know the drop of black paint was added, the composition of the paint was permanently changed, and to deny this fact is to deny reality.  A denial of the transformation represents both a lie to others and a lie to themselves.  They were previously presented with the truth of the Gospel, accepted such truth, and a permanent transformation of the heart occurred.  We may deny this at certaiin points for whatever reason, but we always know the truth of what has occurred.  And so does God.

With the second can of paint, we are simply telling others one of two stories.  Either we tell them that we are a son or daughter of Christ, or we tell them that we are not.  If the person decided that putting on the front of being a Christian was beneficial to them in some way, they might begin going through the motions of being a "good Christian".  But when the benefits of this false front go away, they turn toward something else that they now perceive as being beneficial.  They are able to make this turn because true acceptance of Christ and the permanent transformation of the heart never occurred. 

So the question becomes, to whom are we being truthful and to whom are we lying?  If we are putting on the airs of being a Christian without truly accepting the Gospel and submitting our lives to Christ, we may eventually fall away from the faith because the drop of black paint (or, more fittingly, the paint that washes us white as snow) that permanently transforms our heart was never really added.  We know the truth, as does God.

To have received Christ in your heart and then to deny that receipt is a denial of reality.  The heart is permanently transformed when salvation is received.  Denial of the receipt indicates a lie of one kind or another.  Either Christ was never received, and the previous proclamation of Christ as Lord was simply words with no meaning.  Or Christ was received, and denial represents a temporary self-deception that will not last.

Perseverance is the key determiner of faith.  And we all have faith in something, whether it is true or not.  So are you persevering in truth or in a lie?  We know which is real for ourselves, and so does God.