In the closing decades of the 1800s, the world’s most well-known evangelist was a man named D.L. Moody. Moody’s quick wit and humor made him immensely likable. He 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 a measurable degree of godly living. The New Testament is replete with verses that teach this fundamental basic of Christianity. It’s such a shame, then, that so many professing Christians exhibit so much unholiness in their conduct. I’m not talking about being saved by good works; I’m talking about good works inevitably flowing out of a true salvation experience. Consider the following sampling of passages, all written to Christians (all from the N.K.J.V.):
…as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:14-16)
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14)
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)
He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4)
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 homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)
We shouldn’t take these passages to mean that the true Christian will never sin. No, as long as our souls remain housed in these sin-polluted bodies, the sinful nature we received at birth by being part of Adam’s fallen race will cause us to miss the mark sometimes. 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?
The apostle Paul often wrote about the importance of the Christian exhibiting personal holiness, and he frequently coupled the topic up with the idea of self-examination. For example, in Galatians 6:4, he says, “But let each one examine his own work…” In 1 Corinthians 11:28, he says, “But let a man examine himself…” And in 2 Corinthians 13:5, he says, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves…”
Again, the tell-tale marks of authentic salvation have nothing to do with the professing Christian reaching a level of sinless perfection. They do, however, have plenty to do with that professing Christian living out a reasonable amount of personal holiness as evidence that he or she truly is a new creation in Christ. To use D.L. Moody’s terminology, if you are “one of the Lord’s,” that evidence should be there. And if it isn’t, the shortcoming could very well be due to the fact that, in reality, you simply aren’t one of His.