“I KNOW YOUR WORKS, THAT YOU HAVE A NAME THAT YOU ARE ALIVE, BUT YOU ARE DEAD.” (Revelation 3:1b)
I am pretty sure the congregation of Sardis couldn’t believe what the Lord said to them. Some of them probably stared at the Apostle John’s letter thinking “How does he dare to call us dead? He doesn’t know what he is talking about! We are Christians!”
Well, the Lord knew them intimately and since He ordered to John to write this letter, he knew what he was talking about. They looked alive, they seem to be alive to themselves and others, but they were spiritually dead; they were “spiritual zombies”.
Have you ever wondered if you are truly a Christian? I have, many times. In the past when my behaviors and decisions were not very Christ-like, I wondered if I really was a Christian in the way that the Bible teaches. Being wrong is one thing, but being wrong about your spiritual life is something very dangerous. One can end up in hell!
There are some things that we associate with Christian life: reading the bible, praying, going to church, helping the needy , serving in the church, tithing, knowing the story of Jesus and even having Christian parents or raising your hand at the invitation of the pastor, but none of them will guarantee you’ll go to heaven.
The Lord says this about real Christians: “You will know them by their fruits. A good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known for its own fruit. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth well; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil” (Matthew 7:16-17)
According to the Lord, our outward behavior shows who we really are. Yes, I know we can fake goodness sometimes, but people will know who we really are by our daily actions, especially the close ones.
How can you be absolutely sure that you are in the right path (the path to heaven)? In order to know if you are a real Christian, a biblical one, you need to know what a real Christian is NOT.
A real Christian DOES NOT worship or honor other gods or idols. God hates idolatry, so idolatry and Christianity can’t be mixed. (Exodus 20: 1-5)
A Christian DOES NOT believe he can gain his way to heaven by works. The Bible says: “For by grace you have been saved by faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8)
A Christian DOES NOT think Christ was JUST a prophet, an example to follow, or a good person. A Christian knows that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all, the Savior of the World, and the Son of God. (Romans 9:5) (Mateo 1:21) (Luke 1:30-33)
A Christian DOES NOT glorify or worship other men. Conferring God’s attributes to a person is another form of idolatry. The Bible teaches that God’s attributes are unique to himself. Nobody can impersonate God. “I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory I will not give to another, nor my praise to carved images: (Isaiah 42:8; see 8:13)
A Christian DOES NOT base his faith or lifestyle on any other book, dreams or revelations apart from the Bible.” The Bible is the only book inspired by God and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” Christians don’t need further instructions; it’s all in the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:16; see Galatians 1:6-9 and Revelation 22:18-19)
What are the definitive traits of a true Christian (things that are unique to any real Christian you will encounter here or in heaven)? These ought to be part of your Christian experience of salvation. Otherwise, you need to review what you believe and compare it to the Bible:
A true Christian comes to Jesus in repentance when he first meets Him. The Lord says in his Word, “Repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) Repentance means knowing that we sinned and deciding in our hearts to turn around and live righteously.
A true Christian believes that Jesus Christ paid the penalty for his sins by dying on the cross and that Christ is able to forgive him. (Ephesians 1:7)
A true Christian asks God to forgive him based on what he believes about Jesus Christ. Once he does this, he is reconciled with God, and is now a Christian in the way the Bible teaches. (1 John 1:9)
After a person becomes a Christian, some traits gradually develop in his/her personality; check if you have these:
A true Christian loves God. (Mathew 22:36-37; 1 Peter 1:8)
True Christians honor and obey Him. (Acts 5:32)
A real Christian cares about others and loves them. (Matthew 7:12)
A true Christian believes the Bible is the inerrant, inspired Word of God. He guides his life based on what the Bible teaches, and reads it. (Acts 17:11)
A true Christian seeks God in prayer. (Matthew 5:44; Luke 11:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17)
A true Christian tells others about Christ. (Acts 4:20)
A true Christian realizes that he is now able to forgive others’ offenses and refuses to take revenge. He can also overcome destructive behavior that he couldn’t before. (2 Timothy 1:7; 2 Corinthians 5:17)
He has a sense of peace, because he knows that God will help him in any circumstance. (Philippians 4:7)
A true Christian does not live in the same way he did before. The sinful things that he enjoyed become less attractive. (Galatians 5:22-25)
A true Christian separates himself from the world (that is, he doesn’t live like his unconverted friends or family). His behavior is very distinctive from them. (Ephesians 4:17-18)
A true Christian knows that his ultimate goal is to model Jesus Christ; therefore he will seek his own spiritual growth and his family’s. (Ephesians 4:13)
Although we all long for acceptance, it is too dangerous for us to call ourselves Christians just to feel part of a certain religious group. The Lord warned the Church of Sardis about the dangerous game of pretending to be Christian. I encourage you to compare your Christian life to these guidelines, and with the Bible itself. Nobody wants to find out they’re spiritually dead once they reach the afterlife! There is nothing to be ashamed; even the Apostle Paul wanted to be sure that what he believed and preached was true. (Galatians 2:2)
The Lord says in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me you who practice lawlessness!’”
May The Lord of all creation, Jesus Christ, find you and me spiritually alive, faithful and firm in his Word until his glorious return.
“Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.” (Revelation 16:15)