Acts 3:19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
Last week I shared a message about false converts. Unfortunately there are many who believe they are Christians, which means one who follows Christ’s example, but have never had a true conversion experience. When you do have a true conversion experience you are a convert in Christ. The word converted here in this verse means you have turned your life around and done a 180 and are now walking after God.
The concern I have for many who say they are Christians is that they may not realize they are false converts. Jesus did not die to give us a “ticket to heaven”. Jesus died to change our life here on earth and provide us the way to heaven. Do we really think based on all of what scripture reveals of how God wants to transform our life that we are to pray a prayer and not see change in our lifestyle? Should we still look and act like those who don’t know God at all? Not according to scripture.
Matt. 12:33 “Make a tree good, and then its fruit will be good. Or make a tree rotten, and then its fruit will be rotten. A person can recognize a tree by its fruit.
I hear people saying today that we should not be concerned about the way people live, but if you read what Jesus said here we should. To tell people that their lifestyle really doesn’t matter because after all God loves you is not telling the whole truth. God does love you and He will never stop loving us, for He has loved us with an everlasting love. That is not the issue at all. But what some are not addressing is what the scriptures do address, and that is if you have come to receive Christ into your life there should be a change. If there is no such change we should find out why. Anyone who loves you and cares about you is simply wanting to make sure you are not a false convert.
Jesus said it clearly here in Matthew 12; if you make the tree good its fruit will be good. A person can recognize a tree by its “fruit”. If the person has not had a true conversion experience then guess what you are going to continue to see? You will see bad fruit, the same type of fruit that a sinner produces because if they have not been truly converted they are still a sinner. Yes there are carnal Christians who did see a change but chose to go back to the ways of the flesh, or have been deceived through their lifestyle back into sin. No one is perfect on the outside, that is a given, but please read the whole Bible which teaches us in 2 Corinthians 7:1 we are to cleanse ourselves of all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and we are to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Some seem to have forgotten these verses are in the Bible.
So those who address such issues and are sincere in their motives of trying to help people walk in newness of life are not trying to beat people up with the Bible, nor are we saying we are better than others, because every believer is the same in the eyes of God. But our concern is for those who truly have never had a conversion experience and are therefore separated from God. This will explain for some why they have never seen their lives change, and why they don’t love God’s house, God’s Word, and the things of God. You get your heart changed by falling in love with God and these things become something you enjoy doing, they are not a religious chore. So what does it take to become a true convert?
2 Cor. 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Look at this scripture carefully as we shared this last week because it is the key to a true conversion experience. If you, after seeing the sinful nature within which is revealed through God’s law have godly sorrow, then repentance will be an automatic by product of that godly sorrow. Godly sorrow PRODUCES REPENTANCE, which is a change of mind, change of heart, change of lifestyle. But the sorrow of the world leads to death. The sorrow of the world means you are sorry you got caught, but you don’t really have a desire to change.
Matt. 19:16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
Matt. 19:17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”
Matt. 19:18 He said to Him, “Which ones?” Jesus said, ““You shall not murder,’ “You shall not commit adultery,’ “You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’
Matt. 19:19 “Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ ”
Matt. 19:20 The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept from my youth. What do I still lack?”
Matt. 19:21 Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
Matt. 19:22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Here we have a perfect example of what 2 Corinthians defines as worldly sorrow. This rich young ruler found out that his money was his god and he was unwilling to give up his god to receive Jesus as the Lord of his life. This produces death, which scripturally refers to being separated from God. Notice that when Jesus revealed the fact that money was his god he went away sorrowful. Today if someone dealt with you about having another god in your life most people would say you are being to critical or harsh. But Jesus was showing this young man what he needed to do to change and enter into the kingdom of God.
When people see the true nature of their sin they don’t always want to turn from such a lifestyle. You cannot just come to an altar, pray a prayer, and think I am going to heaven because after all I believe in God and prayed a prayer. This man believed in God and if Jesus would have just asked him to pray a prayer to enter the kingdom he would have done so. But if that is what Jesus would have asked him to do he would not have been a true convert because we see clearly he does not have godly sorrow. People don’t understand that it is not just a prayer that gets you born again. Without godly sorrow there is no repentance produced. No desire to change you mind, change your heart, and change your lifestyle.
Most people want to be introduced to Jesus and think they are therefore born again but don’t want to change. They want to keep living the way they always have as a sinner, chasing the same fleshly carnal desires, in love with the world and the things of the world, which scripture says if this is true of your life then the love for the Father is not in you. If you don’t have a love for the Father you are not going to repent, turn your life around and change your lifestyle with God’s help. Many have met Jesus Christ, but have not been dealt with according to their sin to find out if they have godly sorrow. In fact many ministers today and believers say we should not address people’s sins, but Jesus did. If they don’t realize they are a sinner, and if they don’t then have godly sorrow, there will be no conversion as scripture clearly teaches.
John 4:15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
John 4:16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
John 4:17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’
John 4:18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
John 4:19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.
John 4:25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
John 4:26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
Here we have Jesus coming to a woman at the well of Sychar. He speaks about water that she could get that does not have to be drawn from this natural well. She wants to know where it comes from. He then deals with her by a word of knowledge that she is living in adultery. She did not walk away sorrowful like the rich young ruler, instead she acknowledges that He is a prophet. Then notice what she says in verse 25. She knew that the Messiah, the deliverer was to come, and when He did He would tell us how to get free from our sins. Jesus reveals Himself to her and declares I am He. Jesus did not do so for the rich young ruler. This is godly sorrow. She wanted to turn from her sin but knew that could not happen until the Messiah would come.
We need to make sure people, including ourselves have actually had godly sorrow in our life. If we have then repentance was produced and that is what leads us to salvation. This is what must take place in our lives for one to become a true convert in Christ. Without godly sorrow there is no repentance and therefore no change. Make sure you are a true convert and then keep chasing after God with all your heart and you will see you life transformed by God. That is what being born again is all about.
See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”
May God’s Best Be Yours!
Pastor Darryl Baker