That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:20-24, NIV)
When I was younger, around high school age, I recall that one of the things that many of my peers said of why they did not want to become Christian, was fear of what they would have to “give up”. If they became Christian, they felt they would have to give up activities that they probably shouldn’t have been doing anyway at that age, as well as other things such as “not listening to rap or rock music”. This was interesting to me. I can’t say that I knew any better myself at that time, because I honestly can’t recall.
As I grew up though, and learned more, attended conferences and heard some wise speakers, I realized that my peers along with many adults, are potentially mistaken. Now, before I go on, I’m certainly not advocating any immoral, illegal, unethical, or even just unwise behaviors! These are broad statements and clearly there are some activities that no one ought to participate in, for their own good, regardless of their beliefs.
But going back to the original topic at hand, the idea that they had seemed, to me, to be that they would become Christian, then they’d have to stop doing all these things and that would be that. I’d like to say that only teens have this mindset, but I get the impression that many adults do, too. I think that there are many people out there who don’t come to God because they do all these “bad” things.
Now, there are a couple roads we could take from here, and there is a huge difference between the two. We’re at the fork in the road, and it’s between “can’t” and “won’t”.
The “can’t” road is, I think, where some people are fouled up with sincerity. They have problems, they have things wrong with them or with their thinking, and they recognize that they are wrong, but they don’t know how to fix them. They could have a drinking problem, or a drug addiction, a gambling problem, sex addiction, pornography addiction, you name it. Maybe it’s not an addiction or any ongoing problem, but they’ve done something really awful that they are deeply ashamed of. Perhaps, even so deeply ashamed that they’ve built up walls around themselves, walls so high and so thick that they feel protected from anyone ever finding out their deepest, darkest secret(s). I’m sure there are even people out there who perhaps sense God’s presence and His calling, but they’ve rejected it, they’ve squelched it day after day, month after month, year after year. Perhaps they’ve even resisted Him with a great deal of pride. I believe there are still people out there in this day who sincerely believe they can’t come to God because of what they do or have done.
Then there’s the “won’t” road. It’s quite possible, if not most likely, that my peers were expressing an attitude that is prevalent in many adults these days. That is, an attitude of “I’m going to do what I want to do, when and how I want to do it.” That is, after all, our right as we enter into adulthood, isn’t it? Once that 18th birthday rolls around, once we have our own income, once we are out of our parents’ homes – whatever the case may be, that’s when we finally become free, right? Free – to do what we want! This is the “won’t” road. It’s not that we feel we can’t, it’s that we won’t. We want to enjoy our freedom and we don’t want anyone telling us what we can and cannot do. Once no longer are under the watchful eye of parents, we’re not going to willfully put ourselves under the watchful eye of “some God”.
If you’re going on the “won’t” road, you might be open to a belief that God is out there, maybe you even recognize that God exists and have a general “belief in God”. But you don’t want to submit to His authority. If you’re on the won’t road, then I can’t help you here. I can pray for you, but I can’t help you. However, if you are truly on the “won’t” road, you may not even want help at this point and time. Then again, if you’re on the “won’t” road but you’re here reading this, maybe you do. 🙂
We’ll have more discussion about the “won’t” road in a moment because the sign for this road is not well lit and it’s easy to turn down the wrong path and even Bible-believing Christians can end up here almost unwittingly. (I speak from experience!) The “won’t” road definitely isn’t an ultimate end, though.
However, if you’re on the “can’t” road, then there is some very Good News for you! This is, in very short order, why I decided to make this site. So many people think they have to do all these things, they have to strive so hard. We’ll talk more about it, but I won’t keep you waiting until then!
You don’t have to give up anything to become Christian.
There, I said it! It might fly in the face of much of what you know or have heard, but trust me on it.
Becoming a Christian is not about what we give up, it’s not about what we stop doing, it’s not about how we have to start spending our Sundays. Becoming a Christian is not about a what, or a how, or a when, or a where, or a why – it’s about a Who. It’s about knowing Jesus and believing in Him.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9, NIV)
It doesn’t get much simpler than that. However, many people try to dilute or destroy the message by adding to it, taking from it, or changing it in some other way. In reality, the theme throughout the entire Bible, Old and New Testament, are “Believe in the Lord and you will be saved.” The message hasn’t really changed, but I think a lot of people unfortunately miss that. We’ll have to go more into that another time, too.
It’s clear from even this one above verse, which is in no uncertain terms, that it is sincere belief in and declaration (confession) of Jesus Christ as Lord that gets you saved. Nothing more or less. Nothing else. That is the Good News for everyone, but it is especially great for all the “can’t” folks. Remember that the apostles, when Christ first called them, were not men that everyone looked up to, but that everyone looked down on. If there is anything that is holding us back from coming to Christ, we can let it go. It doesn’t have to hold us back any longer. Christ loves us exactly as we are, right now, at this very moment. Even if we have treated Him terribly, He still loves us.
Now, one more word about the “won’t” road. Even this road has a couple forks. There are some people who are stuck in a particular bad behavior, addiction, or what-have-you and maybe they don’t want to give it up! Maybe this isn’t necessarily an attitude of not wanting to submit to another’s authority, but they just really like doing what they do.
That’s OK! Christ still will accept and love every one of us!
How can that be? That is the common teaching right – “Turn from your sin!” ? That’s especially common teaching in the hellfire, condemnation preaching (I generally do not like that sort of preaching at all). So am I just spouting nonsense with too much emphasis on the love and acceptance?
We can come to Christ in any state that we are in. He wants us all to be with Him and to love Him, as He loves us. It isn’t about what, it is about Who. We can all come to Christ in our most sinful state. If we are sincere about our belief, that’s what matters most. If there is a problem that needs to be resolved, let Him work on that! He wants to! It may take lots of time, or it may be instantaneous. But when we come to Him, He will work on us. He will convict us so we recognize when we are doing wrong, but He will also take us through it. In other words, He doesn’t want you to “try really hard to stop”; He wants to be your strength to stop.
As I mentioned, there is another fork down the “won’t” road. That is when we want to do what we want to do, and it isn’t a behavior or an activity we don’t want to give up, it’s control. We don’t want to give up control of our lives. We don’t want to submit to His authority. Not just now, not just for this set of circumstances, but period. This is the part that no one can help with, except God Himself. If we are set in our ways, set in our wills, and we are opposed to Jesus telling us what to do in any situation, well… Only God can fix that. The scary thing is that we can become believers and still hold this attitude, sometimes without even realizing it! (Again, I speak from experience!)
But if you are willing to let Christ intervene in your life, if you are willing to let Him take control, He will gladly do it. He loves us more than we can ever know or understand. His love is unfathomably great for us. I do hope that whatever fork of the road you might be on right now, that you will pray and ask God to guide your path. He will be faithful.