“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words.”
I recall several years ago sitting outside my neighbor’s house as he wept, mourned, yelled and cursed. His girlfriend had taken their son and moved back in with her mother. Sometime during the conversation he made the following statement: “I love Jesus with all my heart…” He claimed to have become a Christian before we met. I’d had the opportunity to share the gospel with him in the past and we’d even met on a few occasions to study the Bible. Yet his life was not one which exhibited any signs of repentance. He was living with his girlfriend, he regularly got drunk, had no control over his anger or his mouth… Yet he claimed to love Jesus and be a Christian.
Jesus said that if we love Him we will obey Him and that anyone who does not obey Him does not have eternal life (John 3:36).
How do we respond to people who claim to love Jesus or claim to be Christians, but do not live according to His Word?
We pray for them and show them what the scriptures say on the matter. If they repent and evidence of genuine repentance is seen, then we rejoice. Repentance is the desired goal anytime we must confront someone with their sin. If they fail to repent, particularly if they maintain their claim to be a Christian, then Matthew 18:15-17 and 1 Corinthians 5 instruct us to treat them as a non-Christian and, if necessary, remove them from fellowship. (Keep in mind that our responsibility again become to love them, pray for them, share the gospel with them and work for their salvation … not to consign them to hell and wash our hands of them.)
Lest we become arrogant and smug we need to be ever vigilant on our own heart and mind. As the psalmist prayed:
Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!
Many people say the words, “I believe” but then belie their words in the living of their lives. The Christian life can never become one of complacency. We must be constantly on guard lest we fall to repetitive, life devouring sin. I seem to remember Jesus saying something about the removal of logs from eyes.