Several months ago the news broke that a evangelical pastor and president of a popular Christian radio program had been forced to resign due to mismanagement (at the minimum) of ministry funds. This man, though not of our stripe, was known to be an excellent Bible teacher who I enjoyed hearing and had helped to start hundreds of satellite churches and ministries around the country. Unfortunately, that news was not the end of it for this pastor. Soon accusations of inappropriate touching and even of him looking to hire a hit-man to kill his ex-son-in-law for wrongs that were done against his daughter surfaced. Obviously the point of this devotional is not to determine the validity of these claims but it seems pretty clear that this man was living some form of a hypocritical life. With that background in mind, I follow a pastor on twitter who tweeted the following on 5/21, “I think it’s time we consider that Dr. ———- is unregenerate.” After reading that tweet my immediate thought was, “wow, that’s a pretty bold statement!”
About 10 minutes after reading that tweet, I read through 1 John 2 in anticipation of preparing for this devotional. In verses 3-4 we read, ” And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” I couldn’t help but think of that tweet after reading those verses. As much as we like to say things like, “only God knows his heart” or “I don’t want to judge”, the Apostle John makes it pretty clear. Verse 3 states that we can can have assurance that we know God and have a personal relationship with Him because we keep (or guard or hold-onto) His commandments and if someone says they know God and don’t keep His commandments then they are a liar (verse 4). Those aren’t the words of a “tweeting” pastor, those are inspired words of Scripture.
That said, we certainly do have to look at a somewhat extended period of one’s life and do have to account for the fact that genuine believers can certainly backslide. However, I think many times we often give lost people the benefit of the doubt and just hope and pray that they need spiritual growth and need to “get right with the Lord.” Obviously that may very well be the case for some. But I believe these verses make it clear that if someone has an extended period of time void of genuine obedience to the Word of God, irregardless of any profession of faith they may have made, then we would be wise to consider that person an unbeliever.