Today I ran across a young man on the street near my office and felt compelled by the Lord to stop and talk to him. I asked him if he knew Jesus and immediately, without hesitation, he piped up:
“Oh, yes, I know Jesus.”
I asked to clarify, “How do you know Jesus?”
He responded, “He’s my Lord and Savior.” I have been stunned at the number of people that I have had such dialogues with recently, who seem to give me all of the correct answers, and yet at some point in the conversation it becomes evident that they are living in unrepentant sin. While they know the right church answer, it is clear they have no true concept of what it means to follow Christ. While I cannot judge their soul, I at least want to present the truth of God’s Word clearly and allow the Holy Spirit to convict them.
So, still not getting a peace from the Holy Spirit with this particular young man, I pressed further. I shared how I had believed in Jesus most of my life, intellectually. I had also believed on and off at various points that I was saved. I would rededicate my life to Jesus when I would grow weary of my rebellion. That is, until the lusts of my flesh would entice me again, whispering to me from the shadows. This cycle repeated over and over in my life more times than I could count.
In fact, when I truly did give my life to Christ, as I began to pray, I was ashamed how many times I had “dedicated my life to Jesus”. But I knew that I had never really done so with my whole heart. And that day I was so radically changed that I immediately knew that I was a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I shared the verse that changed my life from Matthew chapter 16, “24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Still, he heartily agreed, assuring me he followed Jesus in like manner. But I could see on his face he was growing increasingly uncomfortable. Intending to leave it at that and walk away, a woman passing by interrupted our hearty banter with a greeting to the young man. They were apparently acquaintances. I assumed the young man would continue his walk with his small dog. Frustrated with my current dead-end conversation I turned to the woman and called after her, “Do you know Jesus?” I asked. She spun around with a bewildered look on her face. She said,
“God has only spoken to me twice in my life. Once about a month and a half ago, and then again today (referencing earlier that day).” I meant to ask her what God had spoken to her, but the Holy Spirit led the conversation in a new direction. She quickly added that she had been waiting for her bus for over an hour and a half, and it hadn’t showed. I knew this was a divine appointment. As we begin to talk, the young man joined in with us.
Things took a bit of a turn for him, however, when I brought up my testimony and how I had been set free from transgenderism. He threw his head back a little, as if both offended and caught a little off-guard,
“Well, I’m gay.” He said emphatically. I can’t recall all of the rest of the conversation. But as we talked, I shared how Jesus had not only set me free, but many others as well. He kept repeating emphatically that being gay was who he was, and he couldn’t change. I read to him the following out of 1 Corinthians 6:
“9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
Convicted by the clear teaching from the scripture, and my personal testimony and that of those I know, he changed his excuse: but I love men. As we talked, it was clear he was choosing homosexuality over Jesus. I was deeply disheartened by the conversation as he stated over and over that he would choose “loving men” over Jesus and over going to heaven.
In that light, remember his response at the beginning: he claimed he knew Jesus as his Lord and Savior. And yet, when faced with the decision of leaving his sin or following Jesus, he chose his sin. It was strangely reminiscent of the rich young ruler Jesus encountered.
“18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. 20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. 21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. 22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. 23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. 24 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:18-24).
You see, Jesus knew that there was a part of the rich young ruler that wanted God, or at least to be in His good graces. Having believed he had kept all the commandments from his youth (which is impossible to do perfectly), he probably thought he was pretty good with God. But when Jesus asks him to forsake all to follow Him, the rich young ruler goes away sad. And Jesus let him go. Jesus didn’t chase him, or cheapen the gospel, or water it down. He didn’t lower the bar since the rich young ruler wasn’t willing to climb up to it.
What Jesus calls us to is surrender, to confess and repent (turn away from) of sin, and to forsake all to follow Him. None of this earns salvation, to be clear. These are not works of the flesh. We can do nothing to earn it, it is by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Surrender and repentance, rather, are letting go of what we have held on to and trusted in.
The Bible is replete with warnings that we cannot claim to love or follow Jesus and yet live in willfull, unrepentant sin. While all of us will continue to sin daily, we confess and repent and turn from those things. We don’t choose them, we don’t identify with our sin, and we don’t love it. We should abhor sin.
We are to Keep His Commands
John 14:15 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
John 14:21 “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
John 15:10 “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”
1 John 5:2-3 “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
We are to Die to our Flesh
Romans 8:8, 13 “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God…For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”
Romans 13:14 “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”
We are to live for Christ, Not Our Lusts
Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
Ephesians 5:5-7 “5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.”
The story I told in this article is true. I encountered both on the street today by divine appointment from God. Both heard the gospel. Both were offered eternal life. One, the woman, asked how to give her life to Jesus. The other, the young man, like the rich young ruler went away sad.
We are warned over and over in scripture not to be deceived. Friend, brother, sister: Do not be deceived. The Bible is clear that those who live in willful, unrepentant, continual sin, will not inherit the kingdom of God. Fornication (which includes all sexual sin outside of a covenant marriage between one man and one woman) is among those things that are condemned over and over and included in these lists of disqualifications. If you are able to live comfortably in those lifestyles without conviction and repentance, then I ask you the same question: Do you really know Jesus?
“13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it…21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23).