I want to talk for a moment about True vs False Conversion.
This is such a vital question—Am I truly saved?—that we must address it. It impacts your eternity, but it also impacts every aspect of your life here and now.
You’ve heard the phrase, “Accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord,” right? Some will tell you (and you may have heard this) that you can accept Jesus as your Savior without having to give up your life and go through the trouble of accepting him as your Lord. That you can be saved from an eternity in Hell and not have to worry too much about the here and now. All you have to do is say this prayer, or sign this conversion card, or whatever, and God (who is total love, you know) will save you because he’s all about you! Forget about this “Lord” stuff—Lord meaning Master. Just get saved and go about your life.
So, if I accept Jesus as my Savior but not my Lord, then I’m saved from Hell, but I can get away with all the sex and greed and lying and cheating and anything else I want to do. Because, after all, I’m saved and Jesus paid for all those sins. Right?
So, the question I want us to ponder is: Is this possible? Can Jesus be my Savior but not be my Lord?
Scripture answers that question many times. Here are two:
Jn 14:21-24 [Jesus speaking]. “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.” … “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.”
Jesus said in Lk 9:23: If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
Scripture says that it is impossible for Jesus to be your Savior but not your Lord! To put it another way: If Jesus is not your Lord, he’s also not your Savior.
So, if I claim to be saved, am I truly saved or was my conversion a false one?
The book of 1 John talks a lot about determining True vs False Conversion.
1Jn 2:4. Whoever says “I know him” [or whoever says “I’m saved”] but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
Please don’t get me wrong: There is nothing you can do to save yourself. You cannot be saved by keeping commandments or any other effort on your own part.
Eph 2:8-9. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
But Paul doesn’t stop there. He then says this in v10:
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
You are not saved through works, but if you are truly saved, you will do the works of Christ. A.W. Tozer said, “If your Christian conversion did not reverse the direction of your life, if it did not transform it, then you are not converted at all.”
Here are four words that describe True Conversion to Christianity (I got these from somewhere, don’t remember where).
Submission: By saying that Jesus is Lord, I’m saying I am in submission to him.
Mt 11:28 [Jesus speaking]. Take my yoke upon you. A yoke is what keeps oxen or other beasts of burden in line.
Jesus is in control! He is the owner, ruler, and master of my life.
Priority: Jesus is the #1 person in my life. Everything he says and demands of me I must do. Everything else and everyone else is a far distant 2nd place.
Mt 6:33. Seek first [i.e. as of 1st priority] the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
Mt 10:37-38 [Jesus speaking]. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Obedience: When my master speaks I must listen and obey.
Lk 6:46 [Jesus asks]. Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
Saving faith is inseparably bound with obedience.
Commitment: I am willing to go anywhere, do anything, pay any price, at any time he asks me to.
It means: You are all in, committed to the Lord.
And there’s great joy in this type of commitment! It has become much more fulfilling and joyful to follow Christ in this way than my old life ever gave me. True Purpose and True Meaning in life comes from this true conversion—this true surrender—to Christ.
Now, Scripture does say that God is love—and he most certainly is—but it also says that he’s a God of wrath, a consuming fire, a jealous God who will enact vengeance on his enemies while he protects his people. But which are you?
God will not be fooled. If your dedication is half-hearted, or if you’re just talking the talk or going through the motions, God will not accept that from you. You’re not fooling God. Your fooling yourself, maybe, but you’re not fooling God.
This biblical requirement of being a follower of Christ is nearly impossible to do. We will fail often. I fail to live up to this many times every day. But when we do fail, we confess that failure and get back in the battle.
If someone is not committed to Christ in this way, we have reason to doubt their claim to be a Christian.
A follower of Christ follows Christ. It’s that simple. Not easy, but simple.