Our churches, by this I mean our evangelical churches, may well be full of false believers who will be eternally lost. I am not trying to be melodramatic or controversial. I write with heaviness of heart.
How can I know I am saved? How can I be sure I am not eternally lost? Both biblical words and biblical questions.
The answer is, I must have a faith in Jesus and his saving work that turns me away from sin and enables me to wholeheartedly repent if it does, through carelessness, erupt in my life. Saving faith enables me to hate sin and love holiness.
The gross sins of the flesh simply do not belong in a believer's life. They are alien and incongruous. If they are habitually present I can have no confidence that I am a believer and require to urgently deal with the matter. This may mean speaking to church elders and seeking help.
Paul says unequivocally,
1 Cor 6:9 '... the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.'
In Galatians we are reminded of some other blatant sins that are quite inconsistent with any claim to be a believer.
Gals 5:19-21 'Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.'
If you are a sexual sinner, get drunk, are envious, jealous and coveteous of others, or greedy do not be sure you are a Christian, you may well not be.
If you feed a need to be better than others, are abusive to others (wife, children, colleagues, church members) do not assume you are saved for Paul tells us people like this do not inherit the Kingdom of God. Uncontrolled erupting temper is no trivial matter that can be blamed on genes or upbringing; it is a sign of a seismic spiritual problem of eternal life proportions.
We cannot afford to be casual about such sins in our lives. Indulged and continued they will damn us, of this we can be certain. And all the religious enthusiasm in the world will not compensate.
You cannot authentically sing for Christ while serving the flesh. You mock the gospel and the very God you profess to worship. You cannot proclaim Christ (in word or song) and parade in your life the ugly realities of the flesh. People who are not Christians will mock such hypocrisy. How do you think God will reract when you blaspheme his name?
These are serious matters. Of course we may fail in any of these matters and be forgiven. But forgiveness involves turning away from them. It means putting these practices off. It means being ruthless with sin and staying far away from those sins in particular we know we are susceptible to.
The Christian life is not a garden party. It is a fight and a fight to the death; either we kill the flesh or the flesh will kill us.
How terrible to have been one of the busiest people in church and on the day of judgement to hear the cosmically final words, 'Depart from me, I never knew you'.