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← How Far Can a Person Go As a False Convert? - Ask Pastor Tim

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Showing Revision 4 created 04/13/2019 by Carrie Spradlin.

  1. "I would love for some help navigating
  2. my Christian experience.
  3. My question is how far can a person
  4. really go as a false convert?"
  5. He's asking this question for this reason:
  6. "I've been reflecting on my own life,
  7. and I'm a bit confused about some things
  8. that might be evidences of salvation.
  9. I believe the Gospel,
  10. repented of my sin - or so I thought -
  11. spent countless hours preaching
    the Gospel to people,
  12. evangelizing,
  13. even street-preached a couple of times
  14. overcoming much fear.
  15. It seemed like the Holy Spirit
    was working to some degree.
  16. I also had a deep sensitivity,
  17. conviction over sin.
  18. I spent a lot of time in prayer
  19. by which I was also deeply affected.
  20. I wept over sin and for
    others to get saved.
  21. There seemed to be a real love for Christ,
  22. for the brethren, for the lost.
  23. I was doing my best to
    walk in obedience to God,
  24. though I suspect I wasn't wholehearted.
  25. I may have been holding
    back some secret idols.
  26. I also fought hard and had victory
  27. over much sin like pornography,
  28. much worldliness,
  29. though there were still a few things
  30. that were an ongoing struggle
  31. that I continue to fight really hard
  32. like lust, pride, fear of man,
  33. watching bad TV and movies
  34. which often got the better of me.
  35. Regardless, I made a lot of
    progress in sanctification.
  36. However, I ended up holding on
  37. and toying with one or two of those sins
  38. and fell into a very hardened heart
  39. and lukewarmness
  40. and just deliberate unrepentant sin
  41. and stopped feeling conviction.
  42. My question is:
  43. Is it really possible to have such fruits
  44. as I have had
  45. and still not have saving faith?
  46. How far can a person go in deception?
  47. If so, how is an unsaved man
  48. able to even feel that way
  49. if not by the Spirit?
  50. Any tips to help me
    understand my past experience?
  51. Could God have caused me to fall like this
  52. so it would become
    clear that I'm not saved?
  53. Giving some hope
  54. since only a lost person can be saved?
  55. I'm trying to seek the Lord
    now for salvation,
  56. but my past experiences have
    been a cause of confusion.
  57. Hence, my question. Thanks."
  58. I just want to look at several texts.

  59. How far can a person go?
  60. He's asking this: how far can a
    person go in deception?
  61. How far can a person really go
  62. as a false convert?
  63. I just want to look at several texts.
  64. The first one is Hebrews 6.
  65. How far can they go?
  66. When I was a brand new convert,
  67. I read a Puritan book by Matthew Mead -
  68. the Puritan Matthew Mead -
  69. called "The Almost Christian Discovered."
  70. Anybody heard of that book before?
  71. Have you ever read it?
  72. As a brand new Christian,
  73. I found myself falling on my face
  74. on the floor often as I read that book,
  75. pleading with the Lord
  76. that if I wasn't genuine
  77. that He would search that out and show me
  78. because that book really rattled me.
  79. I had come to the Lord,
  80. but it had never occurred to me -
  81. you know what?
  82. Because I was around such lost people,
  83. I just assumed -
  84. because I was around such lost people
  85. and around nominal Catholicism,
  86. I just thought if people claimed
  87. to be true Christians, they were.
  88. That's what I thought
    when I was first saved,
  89. so to come across that book,
  90. it really jolted me.
  91. Hebrews 6:4. Somebody
    begin reading right there.

  92. "For it is impossible in the case of those
  93. who have once been enlightened..."
  94. Tim: Okay.
  95. What he's going to say
  96. is it's impossible to renew unto
  97. or to restore unto or
    to bring back to a state
  98. of repentance
  99. somebody who has been -
  100. so this is a person who it's impossible
  101. to be saved.
  102. So one thing we know for certain:
  103. They've never been saved
  104. if it's impossible for them to be saved.
  105. They've been enlightened.
  106. That was the first thing that was said.
  107. They have been enlightened.
  108. What does that mean?
  109. Light.
  110. You know what it's like.
    It's dark outside.
  111. You come to the light, you can see things.
  112. If you guys go stand on my porch,
  113. and the light's not on,
  114. you can't see things.
  115. If I turn the light on - whoa!
  116. All of a sudden, everything
    appears around you.
  117. Light we are told makes manifest.
  118. What is it about light?
  119. Enlightenment.
  120. It means I am brought to see
  121. what I never saw before.
  122. So, how far can a person go?
  123. They can be exposed to preaching,
  124. to the Word of God.
  125. They can be exposed to the light of truth
  126. and brought to a place that
    they never were before.
  127. What's the next thing said there?
  128. "...Who have tasted the heavenly gift."
  129. Tim: Okay, isn't that amazing?
  130. They've tasted.
  131. It's like the heavenly gift -
  132. it's like they've taken salvation.
  133. They've put it in their mouth.
  134. And they've rolled it
    around on their tongue.
  135. They've got the flavor of it.
  136. Keep going.
  137. "...Who have shared in the Holy Spirit."
  138. Tim: Okay.
  139. You know what's interesting?
  140. He said this:
  141. "Is it really possible
    to have such fruits?"
  142. Or he says this:
  143. "How can an unsaved man
  144. be able to even feel that way
  145. if not by the Spirit?"
  146. Well, I would say this,
  147. it probably was by the Spirit.
  148. You say, what do you mean?
  149. I'm saying this,
  150. the Spirit of God works in many people
  151. who come short of genuine salvation.
  152. The Word of God can be preached.
  153. You know what you find
    oftentimes in times of revival?
  154. Or you find this even on a given Sunday.
  155. Somebody stands up and preaches a message.
  156. You get people who - they're moved.
  157. They're swayed.
  158. They're convicted.
  159. They feel some power in the preaching.
  160. They go out and they're
    concerned for their souls.
  161. Their conscience has been made alive.
  162. (incomplete thought)
  163. They've participated in
    the work of the Spirit.
  164. It's possible for that to happen
  165. and truly be of the Spirit,
  166. and yet they get to a
    place where it's impossible
  167. for them to repent.
  168. Keep going.
  169. "...And have tasted the goodness
  170. of the Word of God
  171. and the powers of the age to come."
  172. Tim: See? They've tasted of the Word.
  173. They've tasted the truths.
  174. That's swirled around
    in their mouth as well.
  175. And even the world to come.
  176. There's power.
  177. They're actually experiencing the power
  178. of the supernatural.
  179. And not just any supernatural,
  180. this is actually the power of God
  181. that they're being exposed to.
  182. Something even that's representative
  183. of the world to come.
  184. There's exposure.
  185. Keep going.
  186. "...And then have fallen away."
  187. Tim: Okay, now these
    people have fallen away.
  188. Here's the reality we looked at before.
  189. When it's genuine salvation,
  190. it can't be lost.
  191. So these people -
  192. it's impossible once they've tasted -
  193. look, when it says
    that they've fallen away,
  194. you can't fall away from true salvation.
  195. Why? Because He puts His fear in us
  196. that we not fall away;
  197. that we not go away from Him.
  198. Christ says if you come to Me,
  199. I will raise you up at the last day.
  200. You see, these people,
  201. (incomplete thought)
  202. what they fell away from
    is not being saved.
  203. They've fallen away from the very things
  204. that are described there.
  205. They've fallen away from the impact.
  206. This is a person
  207. who is exposed to truth.
  208. They may claim to believe the truth.
  209. They may make a profession.
  210. They may get baptized.
  211. They may join the church.
  212. They feel they've been impacted.
  213. They feel they've been convicted.
  214. And look, based on that text,
  215. it's real supernatural
    operations of the Spirit.
  216. But it comes short because they fall.
  217. They go away. Remember this:
  218. If you're sealed with the Spirit,
  219. He's the guarantee of your inheritance
  220. until you acquire possession of it.
  221. It's a guarantee.
  222. These operations of the Spirit right here
  223. fall short of that.
  224. (incomplete thought)
  225. All those things right there
  226. a person can have happen and come short.
  227. Let me take you somewhere else in Hebrews.

  228. Turn to Hebrews 12:16.
  229. This is Esau.
  230. Esau is another great example to look at
  231. as far as how far a person can go
  232. and still come short.
  233. Somebody read v. 16.
  234. "...That no one is sexually immoral
  235. or unholy like Esau
  236. who sold his birthright
    for a single meal."
  237. Tim: Keep going.
  238. "...For we know that afterward,
  239. when he desired to inherit the blessing,
  240. he was rejected,
  241. for he found no chance to repent
  242. though he sought it with tears."
  243. Tim: Here's the thing.
    We know he was lost.
  244. "Jacob I have loved; Esau I have hated."
  245. This text says he's an evil person.
  246. But what was true of him?
  247. I'll tell you two things that
    can be true of a person
  248. and yet they fall short.
  249. You see them there.
  250. You can repent of sorts.
  251. Remember, that's a change of mind.
  252. He had a change of mind
  253. where he easily cast away his birthright.
  254. He then later had a change of mind.
  255. He wanted it back.
  256. In fact, he even wept tears.
  257. A person can weep.
  258. A person can change their mind,
  259. but fall short.
  260. I want you to see another one.
  261. Turn to Luke 8.

  262. Somebody read verse 13.
  263. "And the ones on the rock
  264. are those who when they heard the Word
  265. received it with joy."
  266. Tim: Okay, you can have people
  267. who hear the true Word.
  268. Something has happened in them.
  269. The Spirit may be moving and convicting.
  270. They may see something in this
  271. that their eyes have been opened to -
  272. enlightenment like we saw in Hebrews 6.
  273. They embrace it.
  274. They receive it with joy,
  275. but keep reading.
  276. "...But these have no root.
  277. They believe for awhile..."
  278. Tim: Notice that. They believe for awhile.
  279. Very interesting.
  280. Keep going.
  281. "And in time of testing fall away."
  282. Tim: They fall away.
  283. So they weren't genuine. They had no root.
  284. They never had any root.
  285. It's not like they were saved,
  286. and then they weren't saved.
  287. They were defective from the beginning.
  288. But here's the thing,
  289. you can be enlightened.
  290. You can taste of the heavenly gift.
  291. You can taste of this good gift.
  292. You can participate in
    the operations of the Spirit.
  293. You can repent.
  294. You can weep tears.
  295. You can even believe.
  296. You can receive gladly.
  297. You know what Matthew 7 says.
  298. You can say, "Lord, Lord."
  299. You can know the right lingo.
  300. They say, "Lord, Lord." What did they do?
  301. Well, we cast out demons,
  302. and we prophesied in Your name.
  303. We cast out demons in Your name.
  304. In Your name!
  305. We prophesied in Your name.
  306. We did many mighty works in Your name.
  307. You remember Judas?
  308. He undoubtedly cast out
    just as many demons
  309. and healed people as well as the others.
  310. You can do many mighty works in His name.
  311. He's not saying the people didn't do them.
  312. Many of these things can happen
  313. and still people fall short.
  314. You know the church at Sardis?
  315. "You have a name that you're
    alive, but you're dead."
  316. Oh, you can call yourself
    all the right names.
  317. I'm a Christian.
  318. I'm a child of God. I'm born again.
  319. You can say all the right things.
  320. You can say, "Lord, Lord."
  321. And He says it's not everybody
    that says to Me, "Lord, Lord."
  322. You can have a name that you're alive,
  323. but the name is a lie.
  324. People run around calling themselves
    (incomplete thought).
  325. When Jesus comes, He's
    going to set all names right.
  326. He's going to put the
    right names on people.
  327. You know, there's a place there in fact,
  328. Jesus talks about the people
    who say they're Jews,
  329. but they're not. They lie.
  330. Physically they were Jews,
  331. but they weren't really Jews.
  332. And Jesus is going to set all names right.
  333. People love to call themselves by names.
  334. You can call yourself many names
  335. and still fall short of being genuine.
  336. So, I just want us to think.

  337. Okay, how does all of that
  338. compare to the genuine?
  339. And that's the thing.
  340. And James preached through
    Philippians not long ago
  341. and I think I mentioned it last week
  342. or one of the last times.
  343. But Philippians 3:3 -
  344. can anybody quote it besides James?
  345. James, can you quote it?
  346. "For we are the circumcision,
    who worship by the Spirit of God
  347. and glory in Christ Jesus and
    put no confidence in the flesh..."
  348. Tim: Yeah, worship in the Spirit.
  349. So, this is the reality
  350. that their glory is in Christ.
  351. They worship in the Spirit.
  352. They put no confidence in the flesh.
  353. Their confidence is in Christ.
  354. I mean, look, listen.
  355. If somebody falls away
    because of persecution,
  356. you know what?
  357. You know what they really believed?
  358. They didn't believe that Jesus
    was to be had at all costs.
  359. What will make a man
    walk away from Christ?
  360. Only if he truly believes that Christ
  361. isn't the most necessary thing.
  362. Because as persecution goes up,
  363. why does it cause people to fall away?
  364. Because they put suffering
    and Christ in the scale,
  365. and they say my own not suffering,
  366. my own ease,
  367. my own not being
    persecuted and feeling bad
  368. is more important than having Christ.
  369. The reason the true believer
    will not let go of Christ
  370. is because he truly believes.
  371. He believes he's got
    to have Christ or perish
  372. and he won't let go of Him for anything.
  373. He glories in that.
  374. That is his hope.
  375. He worships God in the Spirit.
  376. That's what Christ said
    the Father's looking for.
  377. Not worshiping in the flesh.
  378. You say, what do you mean?
  379. You know what worship in the flesh is?
  380. It's praying like the heathen do.
  381. They think by their repetitions,
  382. they're going to get God.
  383. Believing that because you pray -
  384. it's trusting your prayer.
  385. Trusting the repetition of your prayer.
  386. It's trusting in what you do.
  387. The person who worships by the Spirit,
  388. what's happening?
  389. From the heart,
  390. they delight in God.
  391. From the heart, they admire
  392. and they adore
  393. and they're amazed
  394. and they're in awe,
  395. and they find God glorious
  396. and they're shaken by His majesty
  397. and by His purity and by His holiness.
  398. When they sing, there's a joy that comes.
  399. You see, those who don't
    worship by the Spirit,
  400. it's a work.
  401. What's happening in the worship
  402. is it's an exercise that they go through
  403. because they're
    accumulating points with God.
  404. Versus the worship that's of the Spirit -
  405. it's when the Spirit
    takes the blinders off
  406. and allows us to see the beauty
  407. and majesty of God
  408. and we worship Him from the heart level
  409. because we're thankful,
  410. because we find beauty.
  411. We're legitimately thankful.
  412. We come to God thankful that He saved us
  413. based on the merits of Jesus Christ.
  414. Not like the Catholic comes
  415. who counts the beads.
  416. What is bead counting?
  417. Why? Why each one?
  418. Because it's merit.
  419. I'm doing it to get something.
  420. So I count all these out. I'm rigorous.
  421. I walk on my knees till they bleed.
  422. I told you guys this.
  423. I went to high school with a guy
  424. that became a Jesuit priest.
  425. He likes to tell people
    that when he was a kid
  426. back when he was my friend -
  427. I grew up with this guy -
  428. that he put rocks in his shoes.
  429. He likes to tell people.
  430. Why?
  431. Because it's another notch in the belt
  432. of his righteousness
  433. that he's earning this merit.
  434. That's what it's all about.
  435. What do you think purgatory is?
  436. Purgatory is where you go pay in the fire.
  437. If you weren't able to
    pay well enough here
  438. and get enough here
  439. and do enough here,
  440. then you pay more there.
  441. It's all this merit system.
  442. When you worship God in the Spirit,
  443. it's totally different
  444. because what the Spirit
    does is exalts Christ.
  445. You see there. There's appreciation
  446. and there's thankfulness
  447. that He has saved you.
  448. And it's based on Him.
  449. And there's thankfulness and gratefulness.
  450. And you don't put confidence in the flesh.
  451. Counting those beads is all flesh.
  452. It's what you can do in your own strength.
  453. But you see, we cast that away.
  454. That's what Paul did.
  455. That's what Philippians 3 is.
  456. It's this great big list
    of all these things
  457. that he put his confidence in.
  458. But you know what?
  459. That's what it is to
    worship in the Spirit.
  460. The Spirit comes in and just devastates
  461. all the confidences that we formerly had.
  462. All the hopes we formerly had
  463. of how we were going to get to heaven -
  464. He just devastates them all
  465. until we're broken, we're
    empty, we're bankrupt,
  466. and there's only one hope,
  467. and that's we glory in Christ Jesus.
  468. Those three things stated
    there in Philippians 3:3.
  469. That's the essence of it.
  470. Sometimes people can feel discouraged
  471. or you feel like when I
    was a brand new convert
  472. reading this Puritan book
  473. and falling on my face all the time.
  474. But the reality is even though
  475. so many things can be real of your life
  476. and you fall short of
    being the real thing,
  477. you never fall short
    of being the real thing
  478. if your only confidence
    is in Jesus Christ.
  479. You will not be put to shame.
  480. No matter what else may happen,
  481. no matter whatever winds may blow,
  482. whatever persecutions may come,
  483. whatever attacks you may suffer,
  484. whatever thoughts may
    run through your mind,
  485. I'll tell you this -
  486. if your sole confidence in
    being saved before God
  487. rests in the merits,
    the death of Jesus Christ,
  488. that's your only hope,
  489. that's your only confidence,
  490. and you have none in the flesh -
  491. in your own doings, in your own worship,
  492. in your own merit -
  493. none in your own goodness,
  494. it's not there, it's only in Him,
  495. I'll guarantee you this: you are saved.
  496. You are going to glory.
  497. Scripture promises it.
  498. You have root if that's the case.
  499. So, this guy, I would say this to him.
  500. He said, "I made a lot
    of progress in sanctification."
  501. But he says,
  502. "I've ended up holding
    on to one or two sins."
  503. He says, "...lust, pride, fear of man,
  504. watching bad TV, bad movies...
  505. often gets the better of me."
  506. I would say this,
  507. that that isn't a good
    picture of sanctification.
  508. He says, "I've made lots
    of progress in sanctification."
  509. I don't think that is lots of
    progress in sanctification likely.
  510. If lust, pride, fear of
    man, watching bad TV
  511. and bad movies are often
    getting the better of him,
  512. that's not a good
    picture of sanctification.
  513. And so, what I would
    say to people like this
  514. is if you look at your life
  515. and you recognize something's wrong -
  516. look, people are looking for the solution.
  517. They're looking for the magic formula.
  518. But I'll tell you this,
  519. if something's wrong,
  520. there's only One who can fix it,
  521. and you can't.
  522. And the thing is you've got to be
  523. like blind Bartimaeus
  524. where you cry out until He fixes it.
  525. You cry out until He sets your eyes right.
  526. Because if you don't,
  527. if you just go back to your life,
  528. go back to your sin,
  529. go back to your religion,
  530. you just ignore these kinds of things,
  531. and you just let them go,
  532. he's going to drift deeper and deeper
  533. into what he describes as lukewarmness,
  534. unrepentant sin,
  535. stop feeling conviction,
  536. hard heart.
  537. And you just wake up in hell.
  538. You cry out until the Lord heals you
  539. or you perish.
  540. If something's wrong,
  541. there's only one place to go.
  542. It's not the church.
    The church doesn't heal you.
  543. It's not the pastors - any of them.
  544. All of us together -
  545. all the pastors in our church,
  546. all the pastors from every church in town,
  547. we can come together
  548. and we can all lay hands on you
  549. and we can't do anything for you.
  550. We can pray for you,
  551. but in the end, we're
    going to call upon Him
  552. who is your only hope.
  553. That's the only hope
    of anybody sitting here,
  554. anybody listening.
  555. If something's wrong,
  556. if you're spiraling into sin,
  557. look, what we can say is this:
  558. Scripture says in no uncertain terms
  559. you've been raised to newness of life.
  560. Sin shall not have dominion over you.
  561. You need to reckon yourselves dead to sin.
  562. The reality of Scripture is
  563. without holiness, you don't see the Lord.
  564. The reality is God is in the business
  565. of transforming people
  566. into the image of Jesus Christ.
  567. And if that is not happening
  568. in some stark, very real,
  569. very recognizable fashion,
  570. something is wrong.
  571. Like I say, if something is wrong,
  572. only Jesus can set it right.
  573. Only He can heal this.
  574. Only He is the doctor to do
  575. the kind of surgery that's necessary
  576. on the heart of people.
  577. You go to Him. You go to Him.
  578. You cry to Him. You look to Him.
  579. Scripture says if you call
    upon the name of the Lord
  580. you will be saved.
  581. So you call. You call. You go there.
  582. That is the only hope.
  583. There is no other place to direct people.
  584. I would give the Lord no rest
  585. if you're in a position
    where you're uncertain.
  586. And whether there's such things happening
  587. in your life with regards to lukewarmness
  588. and hardness and spiraling into sin
  589. and just not really knowing
  590. what it even means to worship the Lord
  591. in the Spirit and glory in Jesus Christ
  592. and to find all your hope there.
  593. Give Him no rest.
  594. Look, hell is real and once you're there,
  595. it's permanent. It's done. It's over.
  596. And you're devastated forever.
  597. You're damned.
  598. You're destroyed.
  599. And there's no hope. Fire is real.
  600. You wouldn't cast yourself into a bonfire.
  601. Think of the lake of fire. It's real.
  602. You're going to be cast in there.
  603. You don't want to just play with your soul
  604. as though it's some cheap little toy,
  605. something easily squandered.
  606. You don't want to do that.
  607. You lose your soul - Jesus said,
  608. what will a man give in
    exchange for his soul?
  609. There's nothing.
  610. You'll give everything in
    exchange for your soul.
  611. There's nothing to hold on to
  612. at the cost of your soul.
  613. This sin that you think
    that you have to have?
  614. You will curse yourself one
    day for holding on to it
  615. if it costs you your soul
  616. and you end up perishing.
  617. Especially when you were so close.
  618. If you perish after having sat
  619. under the preaching
  620. that you people have sat under,
  621. what a horror in that!
  622. Can you imagine?
  623. It's one thing to end up in hell
  624. and how devastating that is,
  625. but can you imagine?
  626. Can you imagine if you came this close?
  627. It was like, wow, God put me in church
  628. where they taught the truth
  629. and I heard the truth
  630. and I entertained the truth
  631. and I saw it from the pages of Scripture
  632. and I heard Christ proclaimed
  633. and He was lifted up as the only hope.
  634. And you know there were times
  635. I even experienced some of
    that power of the Holy Spirit
  636. and I felt convicted
  637. and I came this close.
  638. And there were times I was even reaching.
  639. There were times I asked the Lord to save.
  640. Oh, I look back now and I recognize
  641. I wasn't totally committed to that.
  642. I didn't totally want it.
  643. I wasn't really being honest.
  644. But there was some movements
  645. and I was this close!
  646. Can you imagine if you got that close
  647. to the Treasure?
  648. To touching the Treasure
  649. and then you turned
  650. and you chose your sin instead?
  651. And you perished.
  652. You will curse yourself forever.
  653. You came that close.
  654. And you will hear those words.
  655. It is now going to be more tolerable
  656. for Sodom than for you.
  657. That's what Scripture says.
  658. Oh Father, I pray that there would be
  659. some serious dealings with You
  660. by hopefully some of these young men
  661. who have written will hear these things
  662. and others like them.
  663. Lord, I pray,
  664. have compassion upon sinners.
  665. We pray You'd bring revival to our land.
  666. Bring a stirring.
  667. Sweep people into Your kingdom.
  668. Cause salvation to fall down from above.
  669. We ask it in Christ's name, Amen.