|JUST WHAT DO YOU MEAN ... CONVERSION?
by Herbert W. Armstrong
How many times have you heard non-Christians, judging one
who professes Christ, say in disgust: "Well if that's
Christianity, I don't want any of it!"
How many judge GOD by the way professing Christians live?
How many assume that one must live a perfect life, before he can
become a Christian?
How many say: "If I could give up smoking, I'd become a
How many think a Christian is supposed to be perfect, never
doing anything wrong? Suppose you do see or hear about a
Christian doing something wrong. Does that mean he is a
hypocrite -- that he is not really a Christian, after all?
Is it possible for one to actually sin while he is a
Christian and still remain a truly converted Christian?
The startling truth is that few know just what is a
Christian. Few know how one is converted -- whether suddenly, all
at once, or gradually. Does conversion happen immediately, or is
it a process? It's high time we understood what constitutes real
DO CHRISTIANS ever sin? If one does, is he lost?
First let me ask -- and answer the question "What is true
Christian conversion?" "What is a real Christian in the sight of
God?" Does joining a church make one a Christian? Does saying, "I
accept the Lord Jesus Christ as my Saviour" make one a Christian?
Let's get the Bible definition. In Romans 8:6-9 you will
read: "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually
minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind [fleshly mind]
is enmity [hostile] against God: for it is not subject to the law
of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh
[fleshly minded] cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh,
but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.
Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his."
A Christian, then, is one who has received, and in whose
mind dwells the Holy Spirit of God. Otherwise he is NOT Christ's
-- NOT a Christian.
Millions may profess to be Christians, but unless God's Holy
Spirit, given as HIS GIFT by GRACE, is at the moment, dwelling in
them, they are NOT CHRISTIANS.
Millions may have their names written in Church membership
books, and still be "NONE OF HIS" -- not really CHRISTIANS at all!
And millions are so deceived (Rev. 12:9).
So UNDERSTAND THIS! A person is a Christian -- in God's sight
-- ONLY while God's Holy Spirit is dwelling IN him. Not before! Not
So a truly converted person has received (and currently has)
God's Holy Spirit dwelling within him. But, there is yet quite a
bit more to understanding what constitutes real conversion.
There is a sense in which true conversion does take place at a
definite time -- all at once. But it is also true that in another
sense conversion is worked out gradually -- a process of
development and growth.
Now NOTICE carefully!
WHEN does one really become a Christian? It is when he
receives God's Holy Spirit. In Romans 8:9, we read that unless we
have the Holy Spirit, we are not Christ's -- not Christians.
There is a definite TIME when God's Spirit enters into one.
At the very moment he receives the Holy Spirit, he is, in this
first sense, converted. Yes, all at once! If he has Christ's
Spirit, he is CHRIST'S -- he is a Christian! The very Life of God
has entered into (impregnated) him. He has been begotten as a
child of God.
But does that mean his salvation is complete? Is he now
fully and finally "saved"? Is that all there is to it? Is he now,
suddenly, perfect? Is it now impossible for him to do WRONG?
No! FAR FROM IT! BUT WHY? What's the answer? Why do so many
Why does almost NOBODY understand the very PURPOSE of the
The Purpose of the Christian Life
WHY do people not understand the very Gospel Jesus Christ taught?
He taught the KINGDOM OF GOD. So did the apostles, including
Paul. Jesus spoke mostly in parables. Take a quick look at one or
two. Notice what Jesus revealed. Notice the awe-inspiring
TREMENDOUS potential that is ours.
Take the parable of the nobleman going to a far country,
later to return. It is in Luke 19:11-27. Jesus is the Nobleman.
He was going to a far country -- to the heaven of God's throne,
seat of the government of the entire universe. He spoke this
parable because His disciples thought the Kingdom of God should
appear immediately. So far more than 1900 years have gone by, and
the Kingdom of God has not yet appeared.
So He called, in the parable, his ten servants, and He gave
them ten pounds -- a pound each, using, in our English language
translation, the English unit of money. This is symbolic of one
unit of SPIRITUAL VALUE with which each was started out. In other
words, representative of the portion of God's Holy Spirit which
was given to each on initial conversion.
But His citizens hated Him. They rejected Him as their
RULER. They said, "We will not have this man to REIGN OVER us.
The Kingdom of God is a RULING GOVERNMENT. They, as of then,
received no conversion -- no "pounds." (They shall yet find
conversion, as many, many passages of Scripture affirm).
Now the reason for His going to heaven was to "receive for
himself a KINGDOM, and to return." That is, He was going to the
throne of the Government of the entire universe where God
Almighty, the Father, sits, to have conferred on Him the
RULERSHIP OF THE WORLD. The coronation ceremony will take place
in heaven, at the throne of UNIVERSE RULE. When He returns He
will be crowned with MANY CROWNS (Rev. 19:12). He is coming to
RULE ALL NATIONS with almighty divine POWER (verse 15).
Back to Luke 19. On his return, his servants, to whom he had
given the money -- that is, the beginning unit of GOD'S SPIRIT at
conversion -- are to be called to an accounting, "that he might
know how much each man had GAINED" while he was gone. This means
each Christian is expected to GROW spiritually -- in spiritual
KNOWLEDGE and grace (see II Peter 3:18). The Christian life is a
life of spiritual GOING TO SCHOOL -- of training for a POSITION IN
GOD'S KINGDOM, when and after we shall be changed from mortal to
immortal -- when we shall be no longer flesh-and-blood humans, but
composed of SPIRIT, with eternal life inherent.
In the parable, the first came to report he had multiplied
what he had been given TEN TIMES. You see, the receiving of God's
Spirit is GOD'S GIFT -- that is what God does -- it comes by GRACE,
as a gift. WE CAN'T EARN IT. But all through the New Testament it
is made plain we shall be REWARDED according to OUR WORKS. Not
SAVED by works we have done. This man had, by his own
application, multiplied his spiritual gift ten times -- his one
pound was now ten pounds. He received a greater REWARD than the
one who gained five pounds.
The nobleman (Christ) said to him, "Well, thou good servant:
because thou hast been faithful in very little, have thou
AUTHORITY over TEN CITIES.
He had qualified to RULE. He had been obedient to God's
commands -- God's government. We have to BE RULED before we can
learn to RULE.
The second servant had increased his spiritual stock of
goods five times. He had qualified, in this life, for HALF as
much as the first servant. He was given HALF the REWARD.
The Kingdom of God
So the parable of the pounds shows Christians are to RULE under
Christ, when the Kingdom of God is set up. Jesus was speaking of
GOVERNMENT -- world government. This parable was given to show that
the Kingdom of God was not to appear at that time. The Kingdom is
not an ethereal, sentimental something "in our hearts." It is not
Daniel's prophecy shows that the SAINTS are to RULE, under
Christ the Messiah, when he sets up literal WORLD GOVERNMENT. See
Daniel 2 -- read it through and then notice verse 44. This Kingdom
will break in pieces every other form of government -- all rule of
man -- and will stand forever. Notice Daniel 7: And especially
verses 18 and 22. It will be an earthly kingdom -- not in heaven,
but "UNDER the whole heaven," verse 27.
Jesus said: "And he that overcometh, and keepeth MY WORKS
unto the end, to him will I give POWER over the nations: and he
shall RULE THEM with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:26-27).
He said, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me
in my throne. even as I also overcame, and am set down with my
father in his throne" (Rev. 3:21). When Jesus said this, through
John in the 90's A.D., He was in heaven with His Father on the
throne from which the entire universe is governed.
When Jesus sits on His own throne on this earth it will be
the throne of David, in Jerusalem. Notice what is said of Jesus:
"He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest:
and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father
David: and he shall REIGN over the House of Jacob forever; and of
his kingdom there shall be no end" (Luke 1:32-33).
But He was not going to set up the world government of the
Kingdom of God at that time. The Bible speaks of three worlds -- or
ages -- in time order. First, the world that then was, overflowed
with water -- prior to the flood; second, this present evil world;
and third the world to come. On trial for His life before Pilate,
Jesus said He was born to be a king (John 18:37), but that His
kingdom was not of this world. He will rule THE WORLD TOMORROW
The saints (Spirit-led Christians) are to reign, under
Christ, "ON THE EARTH" (Rev. 5:10), for a thousand years (Rev.
WHY has the whole world been deceived with a false gospel
(Rev. 12:9)? WHY have they been deceived into belief in a
counterfeit Kingdom of God? (Request our free booklets What Is
the True Gospel? and Just What Do You Mean -- the Kingdom of God?).
Look again at the many parables of Jesus. They teach the
Kingdom of God. They make plain the fact the Kingdom of God is
the WORLD GOVERNMENT soon, now, to be set up by Christ, coming in
ALL POWER and GLORY, to bring us world peace, abundance,
happiness and joy.
The purpose of the Christian life is to train future KINGS
to rule with and under Christ. How then, does one become a
Christian? When? And WHY IS salvation a PROCESS, as well as an
initial phase when he becomes a Christian instantaneously?
Here is the PLAIN TRUTH YOU need to know.
I repeat: "A Christian (a truly converted person) is one who has
received, and in whose mind dwells the Holy Spirit of God."
But how does one receive the Spirit of God?
On the day the Church of God was started, the Apostle Peter
said, "Repent, and be baptized ... in the name of Jesus Christ for
the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy
Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
Repent of what? Of sin. And what is sin? "Sin is the
transgression of the law" (I John 3:4). What law? The law that
the carnal mind, hostile to God, is not subject to -- the Law of
God (Rom. 8:7). Again, we read of "the Holy Spirit, whom God hath
given to them that obey him" (Acts 5:32).
These are the two conditions to receiving God's GIFT of the
Holy Spirit: Repentance and Faith. Being baptized is the outward
manifestation of the inner faith in Christ. Repentance is not
merely being sorry for something one has done -- or even many such
sins. It is real repentance of what one is and has been -- of his
whole past attitude and life apart from God. It is a total change
of mind and heart and direction of life. It is a change to a new
WAY OF LIFE. It is a turning from the self-centered way of
vanity, selfishness, greed; hostility to authority, envy,
jealousy and unconcern for the good and welfare of others to the
God-centered WAY of obedience, submission to authority, love
toward God more than love of self and of love and concern for
other humans equal to self-concern.
LOVE is the fulfilling of God's Law (Rom. 13:10) -- but God's
Law is a spiritual law (Rom. 7:14) and can be fulfilled only by
"the love of God, shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit"
The Holy Spirit will open one's mind to UNDERSTAND God's
instruction on how to live, but it will not force one to live
God's way -- it will not pull or push one. Each Christian must take
his own initiative, though God's Spirit will give him help, faith
and power. But it is "as many as are led by the Spirit of God,
they are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14).
Real Christian Conversion
The two above-mentioned conditions to becoming a Christian --
REPENTANCE and FAITH -- we ourselves must perform.
But these do not make us Christians -- do not convert us. It
is what GOD does -- giving His Holy Spirit by His grace as His free
gift -- that converts us.
Our repentance and faith do not earn the receiving of God's
Spirit. God does not give us His Spirit because we repent and
believe. He gives His Spirit because He wants to give it. He
wants us to have His Spirit as His gift before we repent. He
merely requires repentance and faith as conditions.
Yet no one can, of himself, say: "Oh now, I see -- I must
repent. All right, I hereby repent." One does not just decide
casually, as a matter of routine, to repent. WHY?
Jesus Christ said that none can come to Him, except the
Spirit of the Father draw him (John 6:44, 65). God grants
repentance (Rom. 2:4). God calls one, and convicts the mind and
conscience by His Spirit, working on the mind externally. Usually
a real struggle goes on within. The person has been shaken to
know he has done wrong -- that he is wrong -- he has sinned -- he is a
sinner! He is brought to real REPENTANCE, not only for what he
has done, but for what he now sees that he is. It is not easy.
The self never wants to die. To repent is to make an
unconditional surrender to God -- to obey His Law!
Yet he, himself, must make the decision. If he does repent,
surrender to God, and in FAITH accept Jesus Christ as personal
Saviour, then, upon performance of these TWO conditions, God
promises to put within him the GIFT of the Holy Spirit. This is
the very life of God -- SPIRIT life. It imparts to him the very
Then what, at that stage, has happened?
This new convert has only been begotten of God -- not yet
BORN. Many who believe they are "born again" on receiving the
Holy Spirit are more in error in terminology than in what happens
(for a full explanation, write for our free booklet "Just What Do
You Mean -- Born Again?").
This new convert has not received the full measure of God's
Spirit which Christ had; he is only a spiritual babe in Christ.
He must now GROW spiritually, just as a newly conceived embryo in
its mother's womb must grow physically large enough to be BORN as
This new convert has now REPENTED, in his mind, from the
depths of his heart. HE MEANS IT, too! In all sincerity, in his
mind and heart, he has turned around to go the other way -- to live
a different life. He is now a CHRISTIAN -- he has received God's
Holy Spirit. He has been converted, He is a Christian. He really
wants to do what is right -- to obey God -- to live GOD'S WAY.
What If a Christian Sins?
So a Christian convert, then, is one who has received God's
Spirit, which is dwelling in him, leading him, and he is
following GOD'S WAY of life. A converted Christian has forsaken
his former habitual way of life -- his selfish way unconcerned with
God. Now he lives in the habitual way of God's WORD -- in the light
of the Word of God.
But suppose, like an 8- or 10-month-old baby trying to learn
to walk, as he "walks" this NEW WAY, he stumbles, "falls down,"
as it were, and SINS. Is he then condemned lost -- no longer a
I would like you, now, to notice, and UNDERSTAND, what the
Apostle John was inspired to write for our admonition. It is in
the first letter (epistle) of John:
Speaking of Christ, in his opening salutation, as "That
which was from the beginning ... which was with the Father, and was
manifested unto us; that which we have seen and heard declare we
unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our
fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" (I
The true Christian has been reconciled to God through
Christ. And, having God's Spirit, he enjoys actual fellowship
with the Father and the Son Jesus Christ. And even his fellowship
with fellow-Christians is through God and Christ. He is joined to
them, as the different branches are joined to a grape vine and
joined together through and by the vine. Compare Jesus' analogy
in John 15:1-7. Christians, then, are actually walking with
Christ -- and two cannot walk together except they be in agreement
Now continue in I John: "This then is the message which we
have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and
in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship
with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not [are not
doing] the truth" (verses 5-6). That is, He -- the living Christ --
is walking in the light -- as if on a brilliantly lighted path. But
if we are walking in darkness, we are walking on a different path
altogether, where it is dark. Therefore we are not walking with
Him at all, and if we say we are, we are lying.
But suppose, while walking with Him -- in the light -- one of us
stumbles and falls down. This is not a case of having turned away
from Him and the path He is treading, to a different and darkened
path. If we say, "Oh I'm sorry," would He not give us a hand and
help us get up and continue on the lighted path with Him? Would
He become angry and say, "Get off my path -- go walk down a
In still other words, the true Christian has turned from his
former life of habitual sin -- and from his former attitude of
selfishness, and self-seeking when he had no serious intention of
living God's way. But now he has turned from his former way. His
life, in general, now, is the habitual way of the Christian life.
But he is not perfect the minute he is converted and
receives God's Spirit. He must GROW spiritually, in grace and
knowledge of Christ, as Peter writes in II Peter 3:18. He is the
creature of habit, and all old former habits do not just
automatically leave him without any effort on his part to
overcome them. He must learn to overcome sin. It is inevitable
that he may be caught off guard and make a mistake. So continue
in I John 1:
"But if we walk in the light" -- that is, even though we may
stumble occasionally, it is now only the occasional slip -- not a
turning our back on God's WAY -- not a turning back to the habitual
and constant way of sin.
Do you begin to UNDERSTAND the difference? The true
Christian intends to live God's WAY. He wants to live God's way.
He tries to live God's way. And, in general, it now actually is
his habitual NEW WAY of life. The occasional slip, or sin, does
not mean that in his mind and heart he has rejected God and God's
" ... As He is in the light" -- if that is now our goal and
purpose and habitual way of life -- then "we have fellowship one
with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us
[us who are now Christians] from all sin. If we [Christians] say
that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not
in us" (verses 7-8).
If we, now Christians, say that we are already perfect -- that
we never slip up and make a mistake or commit a sin, we are
deceiving ourselves. I knew a woman who deceived herself in this
way. She claimed to be above sin -- claimed she never sinned. And
although she was what most people would call a good woman, she
actually was committing the biggest sin of all -- spiritual pride
and vanity! She gloried in her "sinless" state. She lacked
But if, while walking down this lighted path with God, one
stumbles and falls down, does God kick him aside?
Verse 9: "If we [we who are Christians -- it is not talking
about the unconverted] confess our sins, he is faithful and just
to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all
So notice the "IF." "If we confess our sins." When we
stumble, we must admit it -- we must repent of it -- we must ask
forgiveness. If we deny it, or blame it on somebody else, we
shall not be forgiven. We must confess it -- to God!
"If we say that we [as Christians] have not sinned, we make
him a liar, and his word is not in us." The context continues
right on into the second chapter: "My little children, these
things write I unto you, that ye sin not." In other words, we
should not sin -- we must strive to avoid any sin. God gives us no
license to sin. But, " ... if any man sin, we [we Christians] have
an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he
is the propitiation for our sins [those of us who are
Christians]: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the
whole world" (chapter 2:1-3). But, of course He is the
propitiation for the sins of the unconverted in the world only
when they come to real repentance, and faith in Christ.
Real Conversion -- A Process
Because many do not correctly understand the whole above-
mentioned process, they become discouraged. And some even give up
even trying to live a Christian life. And why? Because of the
false notion that a Christian is one who becomes PERFECT at one
fell swoop, or that one cannot become a Christian until he has
broken all wrong habits, and made himself righteous.
It's vital to UNDERSTAND how true Christianity REALLY works!
The newly begotten Christian must grow up, spiritually. What
would you think of a human baby, who became 6 feet tall all at
once, without growing up? The growing up process requires TIME.
There is an instant when a person receives the impregnating Holy
Spirit of God -- when he first becomes a Christian. But he is only
a spiritual infant. He must grow up spiritually.
The newly converted person, in his mind and heart, sincerely
has ABOUT-FACED! He has actually gained contact with GOD, and
received God's Holy Spirit. God's own divine NATURE has now been
conceived within him. BUT THAT'S ALL: It is merely conceived -- not
yet full grown! He is still human -- mortal -- flesh and blood. He is
still composed of matter, not Spirit.
For nearly 6,000 years, humanity has been going in the WAY
OF pride and vanity, selfishness and greed, a lack of outgoing
concern for others -- the spirit of competition, opposition,
strife, effort to acquire, and to exalt the self. Humans have
been filled with self-gratification, jealousy, envy, resentment
toward others, a spirit of rebellion against authority and
hostility toward God and the Law of God.
The Christian must overcome these tendencies.
The Christian must develop the righteous CHARACTER to choose
the right way, and resist the wrong -- to discipline the self in
the way he ought to go, instead of the way of self-desire and
God's PURPOSE in having created humanity -- in having caused YOU to
be born -- is to reproduce Himself. (Write for our free booklet
"Why Were You Born?")
God, above all things, is PERFECT, RIGHTEOUS Character! God
is able to create character within us; but it must be done as a
result of our independent free choice. We, as individual separate
entities, have our part in the process.
What is perfect character? It is the ability, in a separate
entity with free moral agency, to come to the KNOWLEDGE of the
right from the wrong -- the true from the false -- and to CHOOSE the
right, and possess the WILL to enforce self-discipline to DO the
right and resist the wrong.
Like muscle, character is developed, and grows by exercise.
My name is Armstrong. I suppose I could make my arm slightly
stronger, and develop the muscle, by constantly bending it back
and forth at the elbow. But if I pull, or push, against some
heavy weight or resistance, the muscle will develop much faster.
There is within us this NATURE that exerts a heavy pull against
that perfect righteous character -- to give us something to strive
against for the VERY PURPOSE OF STRENGTHENING AND DEVELOPING
God's CHARACTER travels in the direction of His Law -- the way
of LOVE. It is an outgoing CONCERN for others. God has that
character! He has an outgoing concern for you and for me. He GAVE
His only begotten Son to reconcile us to Him and make the JOYS of
His character and everlasting life possible for us (John 3:16).
He showers on us every good and precious gift. He even puts
within us HIS DIVINE NATURE (II Peter 1:4) -- when we repent and
turn from the WRONG ways of THIS WORLD, begin to resist it, and
turn TO Him through faith in Jesus Christ as personal Saviour!
God's divine nature is the nature of love -- of giving,
serving, helping -- of outgoing concern. It is also the nature of
Now when one is converted -- has repented, and turned from
this world's false WAYS -- has at once received God's Holy Spirit --
his humanity -- his HUMAN nature does not flee. It too, remains. It
still exerts a pull. We still live in THIS PRESENT EVIL WORLD,
and it exerts a pull. God still allows Satan to be around; and HE
exerts a pull.
So we now have THREE PULLS to RESIST -- to OVERCOME! We must
now overcome these three: Satan, this world, and our own SELVES.
We have to battle against these three, in order to develop and
strengthen RIGHT CHARACTER within us. God says plainly it is THE
OVERCOMERS who shall be saved -- who shall REIGN with Christ! (Rev.
2:26-27; 3:21; 21:7.)
No human being is strong enough to do this BY HIMSELF! He must
seek, and IN FAITH receive, the help and power of GOD. Even with
God's power he will not overcome such forces easily or all at
once. IT IS NOT EASY! Christ plainly said the way to ultimate
salvation is hard, difficult (Matt. 7:13, 14). It's a constant
BATTLE -- a struggle against self, the world, and the devil. The
creation of CHARACTER comes through EXPERIENCE. It takes TIME!
This development is a PROCESS. It is a matter of GROWTH --
DEVELOPMENT. It requires, to become PERFECT, full and right
KNOWLEDGE of the very Word of God; because Jesus taught that we
must live by EVERY WORD OF GOD (Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4).
The natural, unconverted mind cannot fully and rightly
UNDERSTAND the Scriptures of God. But the Holy Spirit opens the
mind to this spiritual comprehension. The acquisition of this
KNOWLEDGE, in itself, is a procedure requiring TIME. It is the
DOERS of this Word, not hearers only, who shall be saved (Romans
But can any man DO, immediately and all at once, this new
WAY he now learns about? Can any man, all at once, break all
HABITS he now sees are wrong? No, he finds he has a FIGHT against
acquired former habits.
He still has this PULL of human nature to overcome. This
nature is A LAW working within him -- produced by the broadcasting
of Satan the devil -- the Prince of the power of the air (Eph.
2:2). This whole world is in tune with the very mind of the devil
The Apostle Paul calls this pull of human nature the law of
sin and death.
Paul was converted. Paul was a real Christian. He had
repented, accepted Christ, and received the Holy Spirit. With his
MIND, he wanted with all his heart, and in real intense
sincerity, to DO God's WAY! But did Paul DO it perfectly?
Let him tell. LISTEN!
"For we know that the Law is spiritual," he wrote, "but I am
carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what
I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I .... Now then
it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me." He is
speaking of human nature within him. He continues, " ... for to
WILL is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I
find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which
I would not, that I do .... For I delight in the Law of God after
the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring
against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the
law of sin which is in my members" (Romans 7:14-23).
The law of his mind is the Law of God -- the Ten Commandments.
The law "in his members" is human nature. Then Paul cries out.
" ... O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body
of this death? ..." Then he thanks God -- that GOD WILL -- through
Jesus Christ, and by the power of His HOLY SPIRIT. BUT IT TAKES
The truly converted Christian will find that he often
stumbles, under temptation, and falls down -- even as a physical
child learning to walk often falls down. But the year-old child
does not get discouraged and give up. He gets up and starts out
THE TRULY CONVERTED CHRISTIAN IS NOT YET PERFECT!
GOD LOOKS ON THE HEART -- the inner MOTIVE -- the real intent!
If he is trying -- if he gets up whenever he falls down, and in
repentance asks God's forgiveness, and sets out to do his very
best NOT TO MAKE THAT MISTAKE AGAIN -- and to persevere with
renewed effort to OVERCOME, God is rich in mercy toward that man
in his striving to overcome.
I think it should be apparent by now that the newly
converted Christian is not PERFECT all at once. He does not -- must
not -- commit sin deliberately and willfully in a spirit and
attitude of rebellion. That's what he has repented of! He wants
to live completely above sin. But to live perfectly would require
all spiritual KNOWLEDGE. He would have to live by EVERY WORD of
the Bible. The Holy Spirit imparts spiritual perception so he can
UNDERSTAND the Bible. And to understand all the Bible TAKES TIME.
We have to GROW into the KNOWLEDGE of HOW to live perfectly
A Christian may, from force of habit, or under weakness and
temptation, sin. But if he is a Christian, he is immediately
repentant, and on this repentance Christ's sacrifice cleanses his
sin (I John 1:7-9).
Converted people often are under heavier temptation than
before conversion. They are STRIVING against sin, STRIVING to
overcome. But they are not yet perfect. Sometimes they are caught
off guard. They may actually sin. Then they WAKE UP, as it were,
and realize what they have done. They REPENT. They are filled
with remorse -- truly sorry -- disgusted with themselves. They go to
GOD, and CRY OUT for HELP -- for more power and strength from God
to OVERCOME (Hebrews 4:16).
This is the WAY of the Christian!
It is the way of a constant BATTLE -- a striving against SIN --
a seeking God in earnest prayer for help and spiritual POWER to
overcome. And if they are diligent, they are constantly GAINING
GROUND. They are constantly GROWING in God's KNOWLEDGE, from the
BIBLE. They are constantly rooting out wrong habits, driving
themselves into RIGHT habits. They are constantly growing closer
to GOD through Bible study and prayer. They are constantly
growing in CHARACTER, toward perfection, even though not yet
What If One Dies?
But, someone may ask, what if one's life is cut off, and he dies
before he has attained this perfection? Is he saved, or lost? The
answer is that we shall never obtain absolute perfection in this
I said, earlier, that a person who is converted does receive
the Holy Spirit at a definite time -- all at once! Not the full
measure Christ had -- he is not at once full grown spiritually --
only a spiritual babe in Christ. Yet he is then a changed,
converted person -- changed in mind, in attitude, in the direction
he has set himself to travel. Even though he has not yet reached
perfection -- even though he may have stumbled under temptation,
and taken a spiritual fall -- as long as, in his mind and heart, he
is earnestly striving to travel GOD'S WAY, to overcome and grow
spiritually -- as long as God's Spirit is in him -- as long as he is
being LED BY the Spirit of God, he is a begotten SON OF GOD.
If, anywhere along this life's journey, that life is cut
short, such a man will be resurrected -- saved -- immortal in God's
Never Give Up and Quit
It is only the one who QUITS and GIVES UP (Hebrews 10:38) -- who
REJECTS God, and God's WAY, and rejects Christ as his Saviour --
who neglects or turns FROM this direction of GOD'S WAY, in his
mind and heart (in his inner INTENT) who deliberately and
intentionally in his mind -- or, from continued neglect -- TURNS FROM
Christ -- who is lost.
If, once having been converted, having received God's
Spirit, and TASTED of the joys of GOD'S WAY, one deliberately
rejects that way, makes the DECISION, not under stress of
temptation, but deliberately and finally, NOT to go God's way,
then God says it is IMPOSSIBLE to renew such a one to repentance.
He would have to REPENT of that decision. But if he WILLFULLY
made it, not in a time of temptation, but calmly, deliberately,
willfully, then he just WILL NOT ever repent of it.
But anyone who FEARS he may have committed the "unpardonable
sin" -- is perhaps worried about it, and HOPES he has not committed
it, and still wants to have God's salvation -- no such individual
has committed it -- such a one MAY repent, and go right on to
salvation IF HE WANTS To!
(If you would like a booklet that thoroughly expounds and
explains all about "the unpardonable sin," write for our free
publication on the subject. Its thought-provoking title is "What
Do You Mean -- "The Unpardonable Sin"?" It will make the truth
What To Do?
If you see a Christian do something wrong, DON'T SIT IN JUDGMENT
AND CONDEMN -- that's God's business to judge, not yours! Let's
have compassion and mercy -- WE don't know the inner heart of
others -- only GOD does!
And if you, yourself, have stumbled and fallen down, DON'T
BE DISCOURAGED! Get up and press on ahead!
God looks on the heart -- the attitude -- the intent.
As long as one, in his heart, has the real desire to walk
God's WAY with Him -- is deeply sorry and repents when he commits
the occasional sin -- and is seeking to overcome sin, and to make
God's way his habitual way of life, he will stumble on occasion,
but if he confesses it and repents, he will be forgiven. But, if
he is diligent in his Christian life, his occasional stumbling
will become less and less -- he will be making good progress,
overcoming, GROWING spiritually and in righteous godly character.
What is your attitude? When you have sinned, have you been
carelessly indifferent about it? You are on dangerous ground. Do
you justify it, feel others are to blame? That will never justify
your sins. Do you still desire to go God's Way? Then it's not too
late. Turn from sins, CONFESS your sins -- to God. REPENT! Pick
yourself up, with Christ's helping hand, and go on overcoming and
(And if you are one who has NEVER really repented, been
baptized and received God's Holy Spirit -- and yet earnestly desire
to -- you may want to get in contact with one of God's true
ministers. See page 25 for details.)
But remember, once you know you have really repented and
been forgiven, don't repeat the sin(s), but FORGET it. As the
Apostle Paul wrote, FORGETTING those things which are behind, and
reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward
the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ
Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14).