Jay Sanders, pastor
Towaliga Baptist Church, Jackson
“Self-identify” is the new buzzword of our times. It tells us that we are what we feel like being. So we have people self-identifying as something that they really aren’t. It’s absurd.
But the absurdity isn’t confined to college campuses and progressive cities. It’s alive and well in our churches too. Our pews are filled with people who self-identify as Christians. But a closer look at them reveals the deadly reality. What really matters is how God identifies us, not how we self-identify. And, as we’ll see in this week’s passage, God is looking deeper than merely how we feel at the moment.
It’s about submission, not just spirituality
A lot of people are spiritual. Surfers are spiritual. Outdoor enthusiasts are spiritual. People who have never even heard of Jesus are spiritual.
Being a follower of Jesus Christ is so much more than just being spiritual. It’s about submitting to His authority and righteousness, not your own.
The Jewish people Paul refers to in this passage had a deep spirituality. It led them to do some very religious things. But it wasn’t enough to save them.
Several years ago, comedians went to a festival and asked people to sign a petition. The petition demanded that dihydrogen monoxide be removed from the environment. The undercover comedians told how dihydrogen monoxide has caused numerous deaths, mostly by inhalation. People signed the petition to have dihydrogen monoxide removed from streams, rivers, and lakes.
Dihydrogen monoxide is water. The people who signed the petition to have water removed from streams and lakes had great zeal. But also great ignorance. Their passion did not prevent them from being wrong.
It’s about confession, not just words
He’s far from an atheist. He believes in God. Not only that, he believes that Jesus is God’s Son. There is no doubt in his mind that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave.
The one I am describing goes by the name of Satan. James tells us that his demons “also believe – and they shudder” (James 2:19). Checking the right boxes is not what saves us.
The mouth is connected to the heart. The mouth reveals what the heart keeps hidden and broadcasts what the heart truly believes. The true Christian believes in his heart that Jesus is the risen Lord and he gladly confesses and lives that truth.
Salvation is not just for you
I once heard a man say that there would be no black people in heaven. Unless something has drastically changed in that man’s heart, he won’t be there to find out how wrong he was. Paul refutes that very same mentality when he uses the word “everyone.”
Knowing this should compel us to take the good news to the folks next door and the people halfway around the world. No matter what color they are.