After God overthrew the Egyptians in the Red Sea, we read this:
"When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses." (Exodus 14:31)
What is sobering about this? Despite clearly seeing God's power, mercy and grace, this generation died in the wilderness because of their unbelief! They "believed in" the LORD, but they never trusted Him.
One preacher recently said "It is one thing to believe in God; it is quite another to believe God!" Myriads of people will go to hell sincerely "believing in" God because they never truly believed God, i.e., never truly trusted His Word and His work of salvation wrought through Jesus Christ. Instead, they will have vainly trusted in their own works, religion, good intentions, compliance with tradition, etc.
Head knowledge can damn. Only truly "knowing" God and His Son, Jesus Christ, saves. (John 17:3) And the only real assurance we have that we know God savingly is the fruit of His Spirit in our life, i.e., a pattern of increasing righteousness, Christlikeness.
"Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother." (1 John 3:4–10)
I know if you're reading this that you believe in God. But do you truly believe Him? To what does the fruit (i.e., the "practice" or pattern) of your life testify: head knowledge, or saving, life-transforming knowledge, i.e., relationship with the Lord? One day soon the reality of our faith will be fully revealed. So, in love I exhort you...
"Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?" (2 Corinthians 13:5)
What is "the test"?
“But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance." (Luke 8:15)
"...the deeds of the flesh...immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians 5:19–21)
"But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing." (James 3:14–16)
"Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers." (Proverbs 6:17–19)
works of man's own righteousness, i.e., vain, external "religion."
"…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22–23)
as manifested by
"…the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. (James 3:17)
How do you score...on God's scale?
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