The Unsaved Christian: An Explanation of a Growing Dilemma
And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: Galatians 2:4
In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 2 Corinthians 11:26
Yes. It is a contradiction of terms, and both a literal and spiritual impossibility. Absolutely. Yet this concept, holds true in the lives of millions. The apostle Paul dealt with them, and so will you. They are professors, but not possessors. They are the proverbial ‘have nots’, as opposed to the ‘haves’. They are the ones among us, who are not of us.They are the tares among the wheat. They are the false brethren spoken of in the preceding verses. They are the unsaved Christians, and they occupy seats in every church–even yours–and even mine.
Simply defined, an unsaved Christian is someone who for one reason or another, believes they are saved, when they are not. And so that I am not misunderstood, I will run the risk of being redundant: the unsaved Christian is not a Christian at all.
As it pertains to worship:
Mat.15:8-9This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
The people Jesus is referring to here are the Jews; the Pharisees in particular.the very ones He came to minister to. One of the reasons Jesus had such a difficult time getting through to them was that they thought they were already in right standing with God because of who they were. So if they spoke well of God and even worshipped Him, God would accept it because it came from them. Jesus said that in actuality it was an exercise in futility; it was being done in vain. Remember, Jesus said those who worship Him must do it in Spirit and in truth (Jo.4:24). If His Spirit does not dwell in an individual, and they have not received the truth that can set them free, how can they worship God in the way He prescribes? It cannot be done. An unsaved person cannot worship God because they do not know Him.
As it pertains to works and service:
Mat.7:21-23Not 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. 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? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
An unsaved person, who is already living in deception, is open to further deception. Here we see individuals who were under the impression that they had been doing mighty works in the Lord’s name. Notice their catch phrase: ‘In thy name’. Adding the Lord’s name to a deceptive work does not legitimize it. Adding the Lord’s name to a legitimate work when your relationship with the Lord is non-existent, will not empower it. (Read the story of Sceva and his seven sons in Acts 19:11-20). Jesus was speaking to people who had never known Him, evidenced by his somber words, ‘I never knew you.’ They thought they were saved–but they were not. They were Christians in their mind but not in reality.
As it pertains to devotion:
Ac.10:1-2There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway.
Cornelius meant well. He dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’; only it was not enough. The Lord still needed to dispatch an angel to him with precise instructions on what he needed to hear the gospel and be saved. One of the reasons the unsaved Christian remains decieved is because at least outwardly, they go through most of the Christian ‘motions’. They ‘do’ themselves into believing thwy are spiritually well. They attend church, probably regularly, and are even members.They pray convenient prayers, and they give sufficiently to appease their consciences. They may even hold positions in their particular church, and of course they’ve been baptized. So at least on the surface, all the Christian ‘boxes’ have been checked.
As it pertains to self-righteousness:
Lu.18.9-14And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
As in our first case, the unsaved Christian feels emboldened and lifted up by the things that they have done. To understand this state of being all we need do is to read Luke’s preamble to Jesus’ words. Luke begins by saying, ‘And He spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous…’ This means they believed that the things that they were doing were good enough to put them in God’s good graces. But they were wrong.
Who should be to blame for this terrible deception and how can it be avoided? We’ll discuss it in our next installment, ‘The Unsaved Christian: Avoiding the Deception’.
Rev. Michael Jakes is an Associate Pastor at Bethesda Church of God in Christ. He is active in youth ministry and is also the founder of, along with his wife of That's The Word! Ministries, a ministry dedicated to the preaching and teaching of the Word of God. He also hosts several podcasts, including 'Cutting It Right' and 'The Bible Speaks Live!' He and his wife reside in Brooklyn, New York.
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