Please Don’t Call Yourself A Christian If…
Some of the worst “advertising” for Christ are the people who say they’re Christians but aren’t. The truth is, anyone can call themselves a Christian, whether they are or not. There is no restriction that can keep false believers at bay. In fact, Scripture said there would be false believers and even false prophets. (I wrote about one of Jesus’ most famous teachings on “Beware of Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing.”) So perhaps the only defense against this potential major turn-off is to ask: “Please don’t call yourself a Christian if…”
I’d like to examine three categories of false Christians. My hope is that if you fall into one of these three categories, that you please don’t call yourself a Christian. In my next blog, I’ll discuss the flip side of this equation: Please DO call yourself a Christian if…
The Bible says; “Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine.” (2 Corinthians 13:5a NLT) Here are three ways to examine yourself.
Please don’t call yourself a Christian if:
1. You live a non-Christian lifestyle.
Please don’t call yourself a Christian if you live a non-Christ-honoring lifestyle. You turn people away from Jesus.
People do this in many ways when they…
Are dishonest in business or personal finances.
Are rude and unloving to others.
Support behaviors that are contrary to Scripture.
And so on.
This is not to say that to become a Christian you just live a moral life, or that if you ever make a mistake, you can’t be a Christian.
Scripture is clear that Christians make mistakes. The difference between real and false Christians is habitual lifestyle. If we continue in sins without repentance and a change in behavior, it shows we’re not true Christians.
“And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, ‘I know God,’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth.” (1 John 2:3-4 NLT)
So please don’t call yourself a Christian if you live a non-Christian lifestyle.
2. You don’t fully believe in and obey the Bible.
Please don’t call yourself a Christian if you think the Bible is not the infallible Word of God and our final guide for living.
The Bible says it is the final Word: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT)
Jesus believed and taught, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.” (Matthew 5:18 NLT)
While Scripture is meant to be authoritative and final, some think they can call themselves Christians, yet pick and choose what they want to believe and obey.
The problem is that if we think we can just pick and choose what to obey:
We make ourselves the final judge of right and wrong, truth and untruth. In other words, we make ourselves “gods.”We effectively create a system where “anything goes” because there are no absolutes. You believe and follow what you want and I follow what I want. The standard is effectively destroyed.
I’m aware that at this point some want to say, “It’s a matter of interpretation.” But most biblical issues are not just a matter of interpretation. The Bible is clear. People simply don’t like what it says, thus they try to argue around it. For example, see my article “What Scripture Says About Homosexuality: Uncut, Uncensored and Unedited.”
Please consider carefully the warning of 2 Peter 2:1-3:
“But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves.2 Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. 3 In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.” (NLT)
So please don’t call yourself a Christian if you don’t believe in and obey the Bible.
3. You think you’ll get to heaven by being good.
Please don’t call yourself a Christian if you think you’ll get to heaven just by being “a good person.”
As a church planter, I visited hundreds of homes asking the question (with permission) “If you were to die today (God forbid) and to stand before God and He said, ‘Why should I allow you into heaven,’ how would you respond?
The clear majority of people, even if they said they were Christians, responded that they would tell God they had been “good enough.” They thought that their goodness was a lot better than their badness, thus, they should go to heaven instead of hell.
People are totally unaware that our “goodness” has nothing to do with our eternal destiny. In fact, the Bible says “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” (Isaiah 64:6 NLT)
So, what does God say can save us and send us to heaven when we die? It is what Jesus called being “born again.” In fact, He said, “you must be born again.” (John 3:3, 7)
The reason so many think they are Christians but don’t act like it, is that they have never actually gone through the process of becoming a Christian. They’ve never been “born again.”
We are “born again” when there is a spiritual transformation from the inside out.
The way to receive this spiritual transformation is described in Romans 10:9-10 “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (NLT)
But, you might ask, where does Christian living come in, which you said earlier is so important. The answer is that we live a Christian lifestyle in obedience to the Bible, not to be saved, but because we are saved. “We love Him because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19 KJV)
Recently Carolyn and I celebrated our 37th anniversary. We did a few special things, not so that we could love each other and become married, but because we already love each other and are married. Likewise, we love and serve Jesus because we are saved and love Him, not to become saved.
So please don’t call yourself a Christian if you think your goodness will get you into heaven.
In my next article, I’ll look at the opposite question: Please do call yourself a Christian if…
Additional resources about related subjects on this site:
Video vlog: Twisting Scripture