For Real or Pretend?

real or pretendIn my last post I warned about how you can be scammed or spammed by someone who sets up  a clone account (also known as spoofing). A person who does this is pretending to be something they are not: you, your bank, a friend on Facebook, your credit card company, etc. The goal is to get your personal information so they can steal from you or fill your email box with junk so they can try to make money off you. They also do it to get access to your contacts so they can do the same to them using your name. You should learn how to tell if what you receive is real or pretend.

Pretend Christians

After writing on that topic I started thinking about a spiritual application for this: Cloned Christians.  These are people who have been through some religious training, had some “spiritual” experience, or performed some ritual that makes them believe they are a real Christian but in reality they don’t live like one.  They are spoofing, pretending to be something they are not. They are simple clones, a religious copy, not the real thing.  What do we use to judge whether a person is for real or pretend in their Christian life? The Word of God, the Bible.

Let’s take a look at what the Apostle John wrote about the quality of life God wants people of faith to live.

1 John 2:1-6 NLT My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the One who is truly righteous. (2) He Himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins–and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. (3) And we can be sure that we know Him if we obey His commandments. (4) If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. (5) But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love Him. That is how we know we are living in Him. (6) Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

Dealing with Sin

So John identifies the reason why he wrote this book we call 1 John. (Actually it was a letter, but we call it a book now.) So that you will not sin! Now you can read a lot of books and websites about how to lose weight, how to make money, how to have influence, how to be healthy, or about any topic you can imagine. John writes things here about how to live without sin. Reading the whole book of 1 John gives you a framework to build with that can help you accomplish that.

Now no human is ever totally sin free. It’s in your spiritual DNA. When the first human being sinned, sin polluted the entire human race.  John knew that so he said, in his very next sentence, that if we do sin we have an advocate (lawyer) who pleads our case before the Father. That advocate is Jesus Christ. A holy God demands payment for sin. When Jesus died on the cross He died in our place and paid the price for our sin, so He has the right to plead on our behalf before God whenever we sin. So God to Jesus, ask for forgiveness and cleansing and for the power of the Holy Spirit to change so you can stop the sin. Life for the real Christian is not to be continuous sin but progressive change as you learn how to repent of the things you do.

John clearly identifies which believers are real or pretend. He points out in verse 3 that you can identify someone who truly knows the Lord by this characteristic: they obey His commandments. Real Christians are eager to please the Lord by living in the truth. Pretend Christians are eager to please themselves and live in the darkness of the world. They think they can have it both ways: a religion to keep them out of hell and the freedom to live in sin. That’s just not true. Anyone who tells you that has deceived you.

Liars Don’t Live in the Truth

John boldly declares (verse 4) that if you say you know God but don’t obey His commandments you are a liar. You don’t live in the truth. That’s the pretender, the religious clone. Having a Bible in your house, attending a church, and believing Jesus is the Son of God does not make you a true believer. Living in the truth proves you are real.

Verse 5 also ties our obedience to the Word of God with our love for Him. The obedient show how completely they love Him. You can measure your love for God by the amount you obey (live in)  God’s truth. If I say, “I love to exercise!” but only do it once a year, I don’t really love exercise. I’m pretending I do and trying to convince others that I do by saying it repeatedly. If you say you love God but don’t live by His Word, you don’t really love Him. You’re a clone, not a passionate believer in and lover of God. You are spoofing and pretending to be something you are not.

Real Christians Live Like Jesus

Then John brings home this whole exhortation with one last powerful statement in verse 6: “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.” Other translations use the phrase “must walk as Jesus did”. So we are left with two choices here. Either stop saying you are a Christian (one who lives in God) or, if you say you are a Christian, live like Jesus did when He walked the earth by obeying the truth of God’s Word.

Now if you don’t like this post, your problem is with John and the one who inspired him to write this, God! Don’t get angry at me. The Word says what it says. You can’t legitimately water it down and change it into something else. My calling is to help believers grow up in their faith. If you want real faith, it’s time to grow up into obedience. It’s not acceptable to God to pretend. Jesus didn’t die for your sin so you could be a pretender. He wants you to experience the fullness of real life in relationship with God.

This same John also wrote in what we call the Gospel of John a verse almost everybody knows:

John 3:16 NLT “For God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

 God does love the whole world, even those who pretend and don’t walk in truth. Jesus died for every sin committed by every human in the whole world: past, present, and future. The issue isn’t about God’s love, that’s unconditional and eternal. The issue is are you real or pretend. John also wrote:

John 3:20-21 NLT All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. (21) But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.

Being Truly in the Light

Do you see it? If you have truly come to the light then you are doing what God wants (obedience to the Word). John also makes it clear that others see the kind of life you live. When you live like a real believer, those who don’t know Jesus and are not saved, or born again will see that your quality life is so different from theirs. That may motivate them to ask you how they can find what you found.  Pretenders, religious clones, those who are continuously disobedient don’t have anything real to offer the lost, so no one is attracted to the lifestyle they see in them.

1 John 1:5-7 NLT This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all. (6) So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. (7) But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.

So I ask you again, are you for real or pretend? Use the truth of God’s Word as shown here and make an honest evaluation. God is light and if you truly have fellowship with Him you are walking in the light. If you live in darkness you are not practicing the truth. You are living a lie. Those who live in the light have fellowship with other true believers and experience the true power of the blood of Jesus which cleanses us from all sin. If you are just a religious clone, do something about it. Go to Jesus, ask for forgiveness and allow Him to help you walk in the light of the truth!

– Randy Hartwig

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Author: Randy Hartwig

I am a Christ follower. My adventure with Him started in 1971. I have served Him as a pastor, teacher, worship leader, Business Administrator, and author. He is my Rock, my Light, my Lord, and my Savior. My life was incomplete until I encountered Him.