“Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Jude 1:22-23 NIV
If you read the article, Watch Out For Wolves, that was published down below this piece you heard the story of a guy who told me he repented. This man is someone I’ve known for years. He had the reputation of getting into Bible fights with people and violently cursing folks out when he didn’t get his way. But people can change right? Of course they can which is why the day he told me he repented I listened to him. I congratulated him and told him how he can now be an effective witness for Christ and I remembered how different he was in the past. He then quickly cut me off and said, “I was the same, I was the same.” I looked at him puzzled. Then he quickly said, “What? What? I’m not ashamed of my past. What?” Our conversation ended shortly after that but I was disturbed by what the man said.
You see, when a person truly repents or is born again, they are not the same person now that they were in the past. This man said he was the same then as he is now. Also, when a person truly repents they are very ashamed of their past sins. But this man said he wasn’t ashamed of his. There were other things too the man said that didn’t add up to what someone would say who repented. So I knew I needed to be careful with this guy. And that he was still deceived.
I prayed to God about this and asked him what to do. He showed me to follow Jude 1:22-23, the title verse above in this article. While hating the man’s hypocrisy the Holy Spirit directed me to still try to help him, but to do so very carefully. We swapped phone numbers that day we spoke so I called him. He didn’t answer so I left a message. The next morning he called me. I answered the phone half asleep listening to this guy rattle on how we’re gonna do this and that together. I was too tired to respond properly to what he was saying. But after the call I woke up and was deeply disturbed again. Why? Because I knew everything I had just been told was as phony as a four dollar bill. He reminded me of one of those guys I’ve met in the past who was obsessed with starting their own church and was looking for someone (me) to help them do it. They too had not truly repented or been born again. I prayed to God about this and came to the conclusion that me and this dude needed to talk sooner than later. So the next morning I called him and this is how it went.
When I called he answered with this long religious bless you brother greeting. After he finished blessing me he started rattling words again but I wasn’t having it this time. So I calmly said, “The other day when you and I were talking there was something you said that concerned me. I wanted to talk to you about it.” He said, “Ok.” I said, “After we spoke about how you had repented and changed your life, towards the end of our conversation I congratulated you and said how you can now be a good witness for God because I remember how you was in the past. You then quickly said, ‘I was the same, I was the same.’ I looked at you strange when you said that then you said, ‘What? What? I’m not ashamed of my past. What?’ Do you see why those two statements; ‘I was the same,’ and ‘I’m not ashamed of my past,’ would concern me?” The man said, “No.” Then he quickly told me he had to do something and would call me right back. Hmmmm.
Anyways the man called back in a few minutes and said, “Brother I apologize if what I said offended you. I didn’t mean to offend you in any way.” I said, “No, it’s not that you offended me, I’m concerned about you. When a person repents or is born again they are not the same person they were in the past. You said that you were the same. That came from your mouth. And the scriptures show that when a person truly repents they are very ashamed of their past sins. You said that you’re not ashamed of your past. I do applaud you for admitting you did say these things and not say, ‘I didn’t say that,’ like so many folks do.” He then said in a smug tone, “Well I’m not like most people.” I then asked him to explain to me what he meant by the statements, ‘I was the same then as I am now,’ and, “I’m not ashamed of my past.” He then went on this long rant of how God took him out of sin like the apostle Paul, how he doesn’t do the same things he did before, and is now a changed man. I asked, “But how does that mean, ‘I was the same then as I am now?’ He then started answering me in the exact same way again, sidestepping the question, and proclaiming his righteousness. I said, “Ok, let’s forget about that. The basics of God’s word teaches us that when a person repents they are very ashamed of their past sins. But you said you’re not ashamed of yours. Please explain? The man angrily said, “I said I was in sin!” I said, “No, you said that you were the same then as you are now, and that you weren’t ashamed of your past sins. And you just admitted to saying that minutes ago.” He said, “Look, you’re trying to put words into my mouth. I didn’t say. ‘I was the same,’ I said, ‘I was in sin!’ I stopped doing the things I used to do, I turned from sin and turned to God like Paul said. That’s what being a Christian is to me!” He’s now taking back what he just admitted to saying minutes earlier. My how the spirit of deception is a liar! Did you notice that every time he defends himself he rants on about how he doesn’t do the same things he use to do anymore; he’s been delivered from sin, and proclaims his own righteousness? It is clear that he is tying to prove that he is a changed, saved man, based on his works. Something the Bible says is impossible.
The scriptures teach that God won’t save anyone who thinks they are so good they don’t have any regrets or remorse for their sins. (Luke 18:9-14) This is what the man initially said; “I’m not ashamed of my past.” And when he was telling me that day we initially spoke that he was the same person now as he was in the past, he was really saying that he was just as spiritual now as he was back then. He was trying to look good. But not understanding the basics of Christ’s teaching on what it means to repent (because he’d never done so), he found himself caught in an uncomfortable lie during our phone conversation. And instead of repenting right then and there he just kept on lying; contradicting himself, in a desperate move to prove his own righteousness. Sadly there is a certain irony in what the man said: ‘He is the same now as he was in the past.’ He hasn’t changed. Except I believe now he’s even worse.
“But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” 2 Timothy 3:13 KJV
Not once during our conversations did the guy mention JESUS and WHAT HE DID as the source of his salvation. Because Jesus is not his source. He just kept tooting his horn about his changed life and his works. But the scriptures say:
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
Scripture also says:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE through the redemption that came BY CHRIST JESUS.” Romans 3:23-24 NIV
Scripture says too:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV
It’s all about God’s grace, his kindness expressed through Jesus Christ and WHAT HE DID that saves us. His death on the cross for our sins is it, plain and simple. So many brag that their good deeds is what saves them. But Jesus himself said:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. MANY WILL SAY TO ME ON THAT DAY, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” Matthew 7:21-23 NIV
Wow! For Jesus to, “Tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me you evildoers!’ ” means this thing is way more serious than many think. And remember, these are religious people that Jesus is talking to: people who prophesy, drive out demons (or think they do) and do miracles, “in your [Jesus] name.”
For those of us with ears to hear may we never make the gross error of thinking that our good works will earn us a place in heaven, or that works alone mean we are saved and have repented. We are saved by God’s grace through faith. FIRST BY GOD’S GRACIOUS KINDNESS, then BY FAITH; by believing in the message about his son Jesus Christ. We are NOT SAVED BY WORKS, so no one can boast.
Back to my phone call with the man. I started trying to explain to him that there are people who stopped doing all sorts of bad things who even go to church and still are not Christians because they have not been born again. He basically said that’s them not him and that I was judging him and other people. I encouraged him to pray to God to give him a new heart and repent for real and God would forgive him. As I was saying this the man hung up on me.
I shared this experience with you not because it was something so epic or unusual. I’ve had many similar experiences with false brothers. I can’t even count them. I shared this with you because I know many of you are going through the same things. Some false believer out there is trying desperately to latch themselves on to you. They want you to think they’re just like you. They’re wolves in sheep’s covering. They were sent to you by Satan to lead you astray. Jesus told us to beware of wolves. Yet the scriptures teach us to show mercy TO SOME mixed with a healthy fear. (Jude 1:22-23) Fear of what? Fear that just as the serpent seduced Eve, we too might not be deceived by evil spirits that come through the mouths of hypocritical liars.
“The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” 1 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV
Please share this with a friend