A Change of Allegiance

rahab-scarlet-thread

“Mom, {Unnamed} says you can be an atheist and still be a Christian.” These were some of the first words my daughter spoke to me when she walked in the door yesterday.

Come again??

This is like saying an apple can be both an apple and a pear at the same time, and yet the person talking to her seemed to believed it.

As she further described the context of the conversation she was having, it became rather clear that those participating in the conversation had fallen prey to the unbiblical belief that a prayer said as a child is proof enough of salvation and you can go on to live in whatever manner you want and never, ever doubt your salvation.

But Rahab demonstrates to us that this is not true. If you are still reading with me, you will have recently read of this woman who put herself in danger for the sake of God’s people and then walked completely away from her old life. If she joined the Israelites, as we know she did, then we also know that God would not have tolerated worship of other gods in the camp. That means that her life radically changed when she declared her true faith.

In fact, nowhere in scripture do we see true faith without it being followed by dramatic change. They go hand in hand. Genuine salvation leads to transformation. Repent and turn from your wicked ways. Rahab is just one example– let’s also remember Paul (Acts 9) and Zaccheaus (Luke 19). We can also see this in the compelling stories missionaries from across the world share with us. To become a Christian means a dramatic change in lifestyle– so much so that many new converts put their lives in danger and sacrifice all they have to become a disciple of Jesus.

But here in our comfortable, materialistic, tolerant Western world, well—it’s quite a bit different, isn’t it? People can claim they are saved and yet never make any change at all and the “church” and the people within it will gladly affirm their claim and declare that all is well, deathly afraid to make any demands of anyone, lest their numbers go down and they are labeled as the church who judges–the ultimate sin, apparently.

My dear readers, this is not biblical salvation. While we certainly can never lose our salvation and it is true that some of us grow and change at a snail’s pace, we do have every reason to question if we were ever saved at all if we live in sin and disobey God’s commands without any conviction at all, if we have no love for God’s Word, or if we hold to a belief system that is not taught in scripture (such as atheism!)

Rahab shows us that true faith means walking away from your prior life. She was unable to stay in her town and in her old life– for if her life was to be saved, she had to join the followers of the true God. She couldn’t remain half-Canaanite and half-follower of God. She had to choose one or the other, as do we (Matthew 6:24).

While there is great grace and mercy for those of us who turn from our wicked ways and, in faith, acknowledge our need for a Savior–just as Rahab did– there is no room for purposeful wickedness to continue to reign in our lives. We must turn whole-heartedly to a brand new life. The old has passed away, behold all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

I can see why people want to believe that salvation is like a “heaven insurance policy”. It’s so much more palatable than the truth, isn’t it? How easy it would have been for Rahab to declare her faith in God but then proceed to reveal the spies to the local authorities and remove the danger of being arrested for treason. But her temporary respite from danger would have cost her her life and the lives of her family in the long run. Most times the easiest, most comfortable, convenient solution is not the right one.

And so when scholars and well-known pastors and people we know claim that salvation is guaranteed despite zero lack of evidence in a life, our sinful, human minds jump at this wonderful claim. This means we can do what we want and still be saved. It means that Grandfather or Uncle Max or Aunt Sally was saved and is residing safely in heaven (after all, they said a prayer as a child), even though there was never even one tiny bit of spiritual fruit in their lives. This belief is understandably very appealing and it’s very common, but, according to scripture, it’s just not true (see references below).

I know this is a really hard truth. It is for me, too. It makes me examine my own life more carefully (2 Corinthians 13:5) and also can cause me to grow worried about some around me that claim salvation but show zero interest in spiritual things (Matthew 7:21-23). This truth changes my prayer life and makes me more sensitive to the opportunities God puts before me every day.

Simply put, we cannot deny that true Christianity means a complete and utter change of allegiance. My allegiance moves from myself and false gods or idols to the one and only true God. Just as Rahab changed her allegiance from her false gods and worldly system to the true God–and was blessed for it! Oh, let’s not forget the grace and mercy shown to her by our Heavenly Father and the blessings she received because of her faith!– so we, too, will change our allegiance when we come to true salvation.

And remember this very important thing–it’s not a “have to”, but simply an inherent fact of true faith. For that, my dear friends, is the crucial difference between legalistic, works-based “salvation” and life-transforming faith.

Verses that help us understand this truth–

I Corinthians 6:9
Hebrews 12:14
2 Timothy 2:19
Titus 1:16
I John 2:3
I John 2:9
James 2:17
James 4:4

 

 

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