Everyone today knows the name Billy Graham, the most well known evangelist of our time. But back in the closing decades of the 1800s the evangelist’s name on everyone’s lips was D.L. Moody. His quick wit and humor made him immensely likable.
Moody once met a drunk who was tottering along, barely able to walk. The drunk said, “Oh, it’s you, is it, Mr. Moody? Don’t you know me? I am one of your converts.” Moody put his arm around the man to steady him and said, “Well, my son, you look like one of mine – you’re surely not one of the Lord’s.”
Moody was merely pointing out the obvious fact that salvation should lead to godly living. The New Testament is replete with verses that teach this basic idea. It’s such a shame, then, that so many professing Christians exhibit so much unholiness in their conduct. We’re not talking about being saved by good works; we’re talking about good works inevitably flowing out of a true salvation experience.
And do we have a right to question the supposed “salvation” of someone who’s life is marked by obvious, undeniable, outward sin? Of course we do. Playing the role of fruit-inspector is not the same as playing the role of judge, jury, and executioner. Let us not forget these solemn words from Jesus:
Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. (Matthew 7:17-18)
We shouldn’t take these words to mean that the true Christian never sins. We’ll drop the ball every now and then as long as we are living out this sin-tainted existence. But there’s a big difference between dropping the ball every now and then and not even being able to find the stadium where the game is played. Do you see what I mean?
In Galatians 6:4, the apostle Paul says, “But let each one examine his own work…” In 1 Corinthians 11:28, he says, “But let a man examine himself…” In 2 Corinthians 13:5, he says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves…” You see, the life of the true Christian should always be able to bear up to examination. Again, we’re not talking sinless perfection here, just at least a reasonable amount of personal holiness that others can point to as evidence of you being a new creation in Christ. If you are “one of the Lord’s,” that evidence should be there. If it isn’t, could it be that you are a different kind of tree?