Recently, 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 sense of 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 of 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 passage that changed my life from Matthew chapter 16:24-26,
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. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 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 arrived. 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 6:9-11
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, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 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 Scripture, 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 going to heaven.
Remember, 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.
And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! (Luke 18:18-24)
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 asked him to forsake all to follow Him, the rich young ruler went 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.
Jesus calls us to 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 are letting go of what we have held onto and trusted in.
The Bible is replete with warnings that we cannot claim to love or follow Jesus and yet live in willful, unrepentant sin. While all of us 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 abhor sin.
We are to keep His commands.
- If ye love me, you will keep my commandments (John 14:15).
- Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me (John 14:21).
- If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love (John 15:10).
- By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:2-3).
We are to die to our flesh.
- Those who are in the flesh cannot please God…For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:8; 13).
- But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires (Romans 13:14).
We are to live for Christ, not our lusts.
- I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
- For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).
- For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them (Ephesians 5:5-7).
The story I told in this article is true. I encountered both on the street by divine appointment. 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 or repentance, then I ask you the same question: Do you really know Jesus?
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few…Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:13-14; 21-23)
(Editor’s Note: This blog was first posted on Laura’s website HERE)