Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One of the Lies We Believe

Last night I was in bed reading Lies Women Believe (again). I was reading the chapter about lies women believe with regard to their children when I came to this lie: "I know my child is a Christian because He prayed to receive Christ." At first glance I thought to myself, "Yup! I've seen that happen. A child says the "sinner's prayer" and the parents and child hold on to that for the rest of their lives assuming the child is a Christian, whether there is fruit or not."

I taught in a Christian school for 5 years. I worked with the youth group in church ministry for a few years. I've observed my own peers move in to adulthood only to live a life that does little, if anything, to resemble the life of a true believer. And yet the parents of these kids are convinced that their, now grown, children are Christians because they recall a time in which the child said a prayer and then got baptized.

My junior year of high school I listened to one of my friends explain to me that she became a Christian when she accepted Jesus as her Savior at the age of 4. She admitted that she had very little memory of the experience - she just remembered praying with her mom. But, she said, her mom has told her over the years that because of that experience this girl was a believer. As a 17 year old girl who was a new believer myself, I remember thinking that this friend of mine didn't seem to bear any fruit of salvation. I won't go into detail about why I thought this, but I distinctly remember thinking as I listened to her talk, "How can you be so sure of your salvation? There is nothing in your life that shows any evidence of new life." But I said nothing. And now, as a 31 year old woman, this friend is not living for the Lord and shows no sign of being in Christ.

While I've always thought it unwise for a Christian parent to give their child assurance of salvation, I never before realized exactly how dangerous it is until I read it last night in Lies Women Believe.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss shares some of the things she hears Christian parents say with regard to their kids:

"My son is gay. I want him to come back to the Lord. He was saved at a young age."

"Neither of my kids live for the Lord. They accepted Christ as children, but lost it all when they went away to college."

"My 28 year old daughter used to live for God but now has denied her faith in Christ."

I, too, hear these kinds of statements and I'm sure you do as well. You see young adults living with their boyfriends or girlfriends, men and women who don't go to church, "Christians" who date unbelievers (or marry unbelievers), etc.

While I have often wondered how the parents of these young adults can be so confident that their kids are believers, I now am aware of how Satan uses their naivety to advance his purposes! Nancy Leigh DeMoss writes:

"I believe Satan blinds many parents to the true spiritual condition of their children in order to keep those children in bondage to the kindgom of darkness. The parents who are most vulnerable to this lie are those who have raised their children in the church, who have taught them right from wrong, and whose children have made some sort of profession of faith as a child or young person - they may have even had great interest in spiritual matters at one time. These parents frequently assume that because all of the above is true, their son or daughter must be a genuine Christian."
What does the Bible have to say? Look in the book of I John:
"We know that we have come to know Him if we obey his commands. The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar and the truth is not in him."
"This is how we know we are in him: whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did . . ."
"If they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us."
"Anyone who does not do what is right is not a Child of God, nor is anyone who does not love his brother."
Only God knows anyone's heart and I'm not suggesting that we go around trying to determine who is really a believer and who is not. I only share what I read last night as a warning to parents because it is often the parent who gives assurance to their children. Why convince your adult-child he's a believer when you see no fruit? I used to think, "What harm is it for the parent to believe their child is a Christian? It doesn't change whether or not they really are - it just gives them a little peace and rest at night." But DeMosss changed my thinking when I read this:
"For parents to assume that their children have been born again when their lives give no such evidence can have several dangerous results. It can lull those children into a false sense of security about their eternal destiny. It can keep parents from praying appropriately and waging spiritual battle on behalf of their children's souls. It gives rise to a form of "cheap grace" that demeans the person and blood of Christ. It fills our church pews with members who think they are OK. They believe this even though they have no relationship with Christ and their lives are blaspheming the Word of God and causing the world to wonder about what Christianity really is.
It is certainly possible for those who have been truly converted to disobey God or to have a period of backsliding. But no true believer can sin willfully and habitually without experiencing the conviction of God's Spirit.
The Truth is, no matter how house-trained a son or a daughter may be in spiritual matters, no matter how fervent they may have appeared to be at one time, if they do not have any heart or hunger for God, if they have a consistent pattern of rejecting the Word and ways of God, they need to be challenged to reconsider whether they were ever really convereted in the first place."
"The essence of true salvation is not a matter of profession or performance; rather it is a TRANSFORMATION" (emphasis mine)