2-13-2021 True Conversion
With our relationship with the Lord
Can someone go through the motions of accepting Jesus and yet not truly be converted from their sin? In other words, can someone go through the motions of confessing Jesus and be baptized in water and still have an evil heart? Can they experience a true conversion?
In a city of Samaria, there was a sorcerer named Simon. Now this Simon tricked the people into thinking that he was somebody great. Some even thought he had the power of God. Philip came preaching the gospel in this city and many believed. This Simon also believed and was baptized. Now, none had yet received the Holy Ghost so Peter and John came to this city. When Simon saw the people receive the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by Peter & John, Simon tried to buy this power. Peter reprimanded him for thinking that he could buy this gift with money and said “Repent for your heart is not yet right with God. Pray God that He may forgive the thought of your heart.” The passage ends with Simon asking Peter to pray for him. Because he was in the gall of bitterness, Simon most likely did not repent as Peter advised (Acts 8:9-24).
Now let’s examine the situation with Ananias and his wife Sapphira. The new disciples would sell of what they had and bring it to the apostle’s feet so they could distribute to those in need. Ananias and his wife sold “a” possession and laid a part of its price at the apostle’s feet. Peter immediately asked him why he let Satan fill his (Aninias’) heart and come and lie to the Holy Ghost. Ananias had promised the full price of what they had sold but only brought a portion of that price. Once Ananias had sold the property, it was in his power to promise to God whatever portion he desired, one fourth, half but he promised the whole amount. We don’t know if Ananias wrestled with what he was giving, all we know is that he did not give God what he had promised. To show how serious God is about our promises, God took Ananias’ life – he gave up the ghost (human spirit of life). He died!
About three hours later, his wife, Sapphira came in and Peter asked her how much she and her husband had received from the sale. Sapphira agreed with her husband. Peter saw that she and her husband had ‘conspired’ to hold back a portion of what was promised. The men, who had just returned from burying her husband, then saw Sapphira dead and took her out and buried her with her husband (Acts 5:1-10).
Is God serious about evil not coexisting with His children? King Saul was told (by God) to go and destroy the Amalakites, man, woman, child and animal, everything. However, Saul saved the best of the flocks and herds, claiming he did so for the Lord. God told Saul (through Samuel) that He was a ‘tad’ upset for Saul not obeying His word. Take note, here is where Samuel tells Saul that obedience is better than sacrifice and rebellion equates with witchcraft! And, in this passage God rejects Saul for Saul rejected the Word of God which equates to rejecting God, Himself. We see the connection between rejection and disobedience which equals rebellion! And rebellion equates with witchcraft! Get the picture? (1 Sam. 15:1-35)
I’m so thankful that God is so longsuffering towards us because He desires that no one perish (2 Peter 3:9).
We’ve just seen how Ananias and his wife Sapphira, Simon the sorcerer and King Saul all professed to know God. Yet their hearts were not yet completely right. The man and his wife lied to the Holy Ghost, the sorcerer thought he could buy the ability to give the ‘gift’ of the Holy Ghost and King Saul, though he reigned in Israel (as God’s anointed) for a time, still wanted to do his ‘own’ thing.
Could these people be in heaven today? As you grow in the Lord, you make the call.
Could these types of people be ‘in’ the church today? You may say “If they are, they just haven’t grown yet!” That could hold ‘some’ water but our passages imply that their hearts may not be quite right. They may have professed salvation and even been ‘dunked’, but their hearts may not yet truly converted.
Again, I speak for myself, I know that Father has put up with a lot from me. Though I have been pretty stupid over my years, when I’ve confessed and truly repented, Father has been faithful and true to forgive me. He also had to teach me to forgive myself – let go and let God. Once we’ve confessed and repented, God forgets (Isa. 38:17, Micah 7:18-19) and so should we. I am so glad and thankful that He is so longsuffering. I could have (maybe even should have) been taken out a long time ago. In spite of myself, thank you Lord for loving me and bearing with me over the years!
The referenced passages tell us that obedience is better than sacrifice, so just how do we demonstrate a true conversion in our heart?
The bible tells that when the perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away with (1 Corinth. 13:10).
Paul gives some insight to the Hebrews about what it means to be perfect. Through the things we go through we learn obedience. Our primary exercise in obedience is being obedient to our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Word of God and this is a “growing” process (Heb. 5:1-14). This doesn’t happen overnight. Some are able to grasp God’s truths quicker than others (meet pokey, here) and the more of God’s truth we learn, the more we can apply into lives, the closer we walk with the Lord. The closer we walk with the Lord is evidence of our obedience. Being perfect is maturing in Christ Jesus. Maturing in Christ is how much of His Word do we know, but how much Word we apply into our lives?
Paul explains his life-long wrestling match. He recognized that both to do good and evil are present in our bodies – at the same time. If you will, our spirit and our soul. Our spirit is what truly motivates us and our soul is the seat of our knowledge and emotions. Apparently Paul had a dickens of a time keeping right before the Lord (Rom. 7:1-24). However he understood that his afflictions are what kept him humble before our Lord, in his obedience with our Lord.
We see this wrestling match within ourselves when we are tempted. We have that desire to do those things we know we shouldn’t do, so then we exercise our free will to do or not to do. When we persevere, choose the right path, we discover that we become stronger against those temptations which spills over into resisting others (temptations) which may come our way. The more we yield over to the Holy Ghost, our desires become more compliant with the will of God which allows God to bring more blessings our way. (James 1:1-4). Reflecting our maturity in Christ.
Please understand that no trial we go through, no matter how bad we feel it may be, it will be nothing when compared to the goodness Father has in store for us in eternity.
We desire to be in the presence of God and our trials strengthen that hope. Yes, we have free-will but, we also have Jesus interceding for us so the indwelling of the Holy Spirit can help us fulfill God’s will in our lives. Our bodies ae crying out to be with our Lord in heaven (Rom. 8:18-28).
So, we should not desire to be like the world around us (Rev.20:11-15). But we need to make the effort to transform our minds to that which is good and acceptable and in the will of God (Romans 12:2). Reading and knowing the scriptures help us to reach that goal.
God is a God who knows our heart (1 Sam. 16:7). Those who know God, hear God and we know that He loves us for God is love. (John 4:6-8).
Jesus tells us that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). This is a decision we make.
His commandments explain how love operates in us, through us and around us. In short, we yield our heart and soul, the natural man and the inner man (spirit, soul and body), to the will of almighty God. Then with every ounce of energy, we decide to serve Father with the things we do, speak and even think. Then we interact with those whom we encounter, allowing God’s love to operate in us and through us (Luke 10:25-27).There is no sin in Jesus (Heb. 9:14, 1 John 3:5), so He stands the gap for us.
True conversion? We asked can a person experience “conversion” and not have a changed heart? A better question may be did a person go through the motions and their heart not really be changed.
If we don’t truly love, how can we say we know God (again) for God is love. So we live for our heavenly Father, in the power of Jesus Christ Who lives within us through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit (in our heart). As we grow closer to God, the love of God grows within us and to some degree, those around us see that love! The obedience to the Word of God and His Will reflect our relationship with the Lord. God’s love is perfected in us as we demonstrate our love one for another and those around us and the Holy Ghost helps us to know that we are on the right track (1 John 4:12-13).
True conversion? Living in God’s love!