That is the telling question and the observable fruit. If the answer is “No,” you will die in your sins as of this moment.
AM I SAVED OR UNSAVED?
There are several examples in the Bible where the Lord Jesus is telling us that a person can have a desire for God, may be trying to or thinking he is walking in His ways, might even look to others as if he/ she is a Christian and yet clearly is not yet a born-again believer (born of water AND the Spirit). If the person died today, they would not enter the kingdom of God. Their destiny is the lake of fire.
(1) Acts 13:43, “…many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas…” (First of all, the word DEVOUT denotes a certain piety and seems to convey that a person is in a state of salvation. We hear the phrase “devout Catholic,” for example. The dictionary defines it as “having or showing deep religious feeling or commitment.” We will find out that while this word carries an idea or opinion to others, it is not evidence of being assured of Heaven.)
The text says that they were converts to Judaism- not Christianity- when they decided to follow after Paul and Barnabas. So they weren’t believers yet, although they might have had a desire to eventually know God.
(2) Acts 13:50, “But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.” The text says they were devout- had deep religious commitment- and yet they were against the brothers in Christ.They looked to be religious on the outside, yet they were clearly still walking in their sins. Whatever the case, they showed by their actions that their hearts were opposed to God’s people.
3) Acts 17:4, “And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks…” The Word points out here that they were not yet Christians at this point, but were persuaded by what they heard from what they previously believed. They had an interest in spiritual matters, but had not yet confessed their sins and were still following after their own ways and desires.
(4) Acts 17:16-17, “…the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons…” They were not believers, although the word devout is used. Athenians spend their time “telling or hearing something new.” Part of what is key in all of these verses and why I point out the use of the word “devout” is because if those who seem religious or seem committed to God are shown in scripture not to be in a state of grace as to enter into the kingdom of God for all of eternity, how much more so those who are obviously not following the Lord or who do not seem “devout.” They appeared to be saved as they might have had a habit of going to church or the temple, but they were participating in and living among idols. That was their culture and mindset.
AM I JUST A “BACKSLIDER”? For one thing, it can depend on what one means by the term backslider. If you are referring to someone who has become dull or ineffectual to the things of God or following after Him, that’s bad enough and should be a wake-up call. Or if you mean someone who has regressed into spiritual disobedience (from time to time, not on an ongoing basis), this needs attention also. This is still a VERY serious and dangerous matter. We have to question our commitment to the Father. We need to examine ourselves and ask just what it was we were thinking when we first professed salvation.
But, on the other hand, if you are a person who is in “a perpetual state of willful rebellion or ungodly indifference,” then this is “a sign of false profession.” (Read Matthew 7:21-23 or 1 John 3:4-10). Many people mistakenly, ignorantly or purposefully- to be seen or accepted- never truly repented and are bound for Hell. Though, while they are still alive, they may yet have a chance to be reconciled to God. The Bible sometimes speaks of or refers to backsliding (although the actual term is not used) as either the actions of an unregenerate people (Jeremiah 8:5) or when Christians go through times when they do not grow or are not set back by their sin (Jeremiah 14:7). If we are unregenerate– meaning not reforming or showing repentance; fleshly; unwilling to yield; stubborn or hard-hearted; not transformed by God—we are still in the flesh and cannot dwell with the spotless, unstained and Holy God.
(1) Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in Heaven…” The true test of a valid Christian life is whether or not they perform, do, and live out the WILL OF GOD. If not, they are condemned in their present state and will face judgment and the wrath of God.
(2) 1 John 3:4-10, “Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness… No one who abides in Him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen Him or known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as He is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning… No one born of God makes a practice of sinning for God abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” Again, the clear outcome of evidence presented by/ in someone’s life is love and holy living- by the grace of God and if we have submitted.
(3) Jeremiah 8:5, “Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return.” In this case, God is not fooled by the hearts of people or their lips; perpetual means habitual.
(4) Jeremiah 14:7, “Though our iniquities testify against us, act, O Lord, for Your name’s sake; for our backslidings are many; we have sinned against You.” Here it shows that backsliding is equal to sinning. If it is regular and we are not asking God nor allowing Him to work this out of us, we stand in sin and are clearly unrighteous. This means we have no true relationship with Christ, His blood and sacrifice have not been applied to/ over our lives and we will die in our sins.
ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED This is an oft-quoted saying by many who are either professing that they will always be considered saved even while they have sin (Romans 6:1), or know and are conveying that God will never relinquish His hold on them, and the devil cannot snatch them away. The latter is true.
(1) Hebrews 6:4-8, “For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have been enlightened, who have tasted the Heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding Him up to contempt. For the land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.” It is possible for us to choose to walk away from God even after being saved… of our own choosing. If we do this we will die in our sins and there is NO CHANCE TO BE SAVED AGAIN! We will go to Hell. God is not sending us there; we are sending ourselves there. It is NOT possible, as far as God is concerned, to relinquish our salvation; He will not for His part- the relationship of salvation is a covenant, a binding contract. God will never breach it. His Spirit in us is a deposit or guarantee of our eternal hope (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5, Ephesians 1:14).
CONCLUSION: When we determine that we are unsaved by any of these three premises…
(a) We seem to be devout or spiritual or religious, but are not changed
(b) We have backslidden more than once or habitually
(c) We have now come to understand through God’s Word that we may never again receive true salvation or never truly had it to begin with (which is the case with MANY, I believe)…
The ONLY REMEDY is to beg our Holy and loving and merciful God Almighty for the forgiveness of our sins, COMMIT to turning away from that old or current life, to FOLLOW HIM and OBEY HIM, and to bear the fruit of repentance. This puts us in a place where we can receive the grace of God unto the gift of repentance and salvation. Otherwise, the judgment already pronounced on the evil and the wicked (all unsaved people), based on God’s observations and the testimony of our own actions, is found in John 3:19,“And this is the judgment: the Light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil.”
Yet even now, God speaks in this final hour…”Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your fathers put Me to the test and saw My works for forty years. Therefore, I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known My ways.’” (They have not taken the time and effort to listen or to learn of them.) “As I said in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My (eternal) rest.’” “Take care, brothers and sisters, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, lending you to fall away from the living God.”