Marks of the Unconverted (Lost)

by Paul G. Burbidge, B.Th.

 

Introduction

            If you lived in a land of old-time pagans it would be quite easy to tell the difference between those that are genuinely converted and those that are dead in trespasses and sins.  That is not the case in Canada (the whole Western world) today. Canada has become a land of multitudes that profess the name of Christ. Those that profess the name of Christ fall into two main categories, 1) those that are dead moralists and 2) those that are seeking to place life into their brand of Christianity by adding fleshly pleasures.

 

            The first group, the dead moralists, would not be caught in a bar or dance hall. They have been around for a few hundred years, but I would venture to state that there have never been more of them than today. These folks are holding to their form of godliness while relying upon their own righteousness to get them to Heaven.

 

            The second group has been growing out of the dead moralist group for some time but is rapidly growing in popularity in the last ten to twenty years. The old-time (ancient) pagans of the Old and New Testament days sought to grab hold of blessings from their gods through fleshly means. In addition to their sacrifices they would use heavy rhythms, dancing, narcotics, alcohol, and fornication to carry out their form of worship. Those of you who are really paying attention to this message have just clued into the prevalence of heavy rhythms, dancing, and sensuality amongst modern pop-Christianity.

 

“There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.” (Pr.30:12) We live in a generation that loves the newly emerging pagan-Christianity. They are claiming to worship the God of the Bible through music with domineering rhythms like rock and roll, jazz, country and western. Many are claiming to use dance to grab hold on the God of the Bible. They apparently think that they can use the sensual gyrations of their bodies to please God. Fornication is accepted and encouraged; divorce is prevalent and uncorrected. Mass religious pep rallies are the order of the day in many of the major cities in North America where a party atmosphere whips the carnal responses of men and women to frenzy.

 

To complain that you wish you were born in a simpler era is to question the wisdom and authority of God. Rather, our course should be prayerful consecration to our Lord and the putting away of sin in our hearts and actions. The command stands: “let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” (2Ti.2:19)

 

Sin is the Mark

            God does the soul-winner to be humble and non-malicious fruit inspectors. In being a fruit inspector a proper perspective or motive is necessary. Without the proper motive you may find yourself with a malicious or censorious spirit. Such evil attitudes will do no one any good and will bring reproach upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. So what is the needed motivation? Paul told the Corinthians: “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (2Co.2:2) The principle that Paul is speaking of here is a life encompassing principle. By that I mean, that this principle of knowing nothing except Christ Jesus, and him crucified, is to be at work within all our relationships with other people at all times.

 

Our interactions and communications in the church, the entire household of faith, and in our families are all to be edifying. We are to minister to each other so that Christ Jesus is exalted at all times. Christ and Him crucified is to the focus and foundation of our relationships, with special emphasis on people’s salvation and spiritual wellbeing thereafter. The principle of knowing nothing save Christ and Him crucified is the same in our relationships with lost family, friends, colleagues, etc. The life of the child of God is to be a light that reflects the Light of the world, Jesus Christ. Therefore, when we speak over the backyard fence, over the dinner table, on the work floor, and so on it is to make Christ known and the new life in Him—to know nothing amongst the people with whom we pass each day save Christ and Him crucified. When this is a reality in your life, albeit imperfect, you will be able to inspect the fruit of other and be only thinking of their eternal good. Then you will be able to exhort them in love from the Scriptures for their eternal good.

 

            Lists of the marks of the unconverted appear a number of times in the Bible. Three are used here. Below they are quoted and then the marks are grouped when appropriate and annotated.

 

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators,(1) nor idolaters,(2) nor adulterers,(3) nor effeminate,(4) nor abusers of themselves with mankind,(5) Nor thieves,(12) nor covetous,(8) nor drunkards,(9) nor revilers,(14) nor extortioners,(12) shall inherit the kingdom of God.” (1Co.6:9-10)

 

“For this ye know, that no whoremonger,(7) nor unclean(6) person, nor covetous(8) man, who is an idolater,(2) hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” (Ep.5:5-6)

 

“But the fearful,(15) and unbelieving, (15) and the abominable,(16) and murderers,(17) and whoremongers,(7) and sorcerers,(18) and idolaters,(2) and all liars,(10) shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Re.21:8)

 

(1)    Fornicators: Those that have physical relations outside of the God appointed institution of marriage. “It is good for a man not to touch a woman.” (1Co.7:1) No touching means just that. Paul was not intimating something more than touching, he was literally saying ‘men do not touch a woman that is not your wife!’

(2)    Idolaters: Those that place things before God. Firstly this speaks of those that have false gods, but it also refers to those that place anything or anyone before God.

(3)    Adulterers: Those who break their marriage vow of chastity with infidelity of body, mind, or emotions.

(4)    Effeminate: Men that have feminine traits. They are not necessarily sodomites, but are soft/unmasculine.

(5)    Sodomites: Men or women that commit fornication within their own gender.

(6)    Unclean: Those that are not clean in life or thought. Men and women and youths that defile themselves in mind and/body. Like the pre-flood folks—their imagination were evil continually.

(7)    Whoremonger: A man that sells his body or deal in the selling of fornication by others (pimping).

(8)    Covetous: “covetousness, which is idolatry” (Co.3:5) Wanting stuff, which shows displeasure with the provision of God and a desire to satisfy one’s flesh.

(9)    Drunkards: (Is.5:11,12,22; Ga.5:21) This is self-explanatory.

(10)  Liars: (including those that are unfailingly honest with every man except self) “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (Jn.8:44) There are no little and big lies, white or black lies. Lies are lies and all lying is soul killing sin.

(11)    Railers and Backbiters: “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” (1Co.5:11) Not only will railers (an insulter) and backbiters (slanderer of the absent) not be admitted into the kingdom of Heaven they are to be dismissed from the memberships of Christ’s churches.

(12)  Thieves, extortioners, oppressors: Thievery, extortion, and oppression all fall in the category of getting advantage, financial or otherwise, by unjust means. “That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because that the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified.” (1Th.4:6) “Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.” (Ja.5:2-3)

(13)    Frequenters and lovers of vain company: Men and women that are liar, thieves, backbiters, and so on frequent company of the same nature. You are known by your friends. “Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.” (Pr.9:6) “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” (Pr.9:6)

(14)    Scoffers, Revilers: These are verbal abusers of whatever and whoever they do not like. “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” (2Ch.36:16) “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.” (Ps.1:1) “Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.” (Pr.19:29)

(15)    Fearful, Unbelieving: Men that fear men. Men that fear the wrath of God but will not hope in Christ. Those who are doubters of truth.

(16)    Abominable: This is a broad term fitting those that are hateful, detestable, or loathsome.

(17)    Murderers: Abortion, euthanasia, cold blooded murder. Those that hate in heart fit here. Those who are unforgiving and vengeful.

(18)    Sorcerers: Men, women, and children that dabble or are over their heads in witchcraft and Satanism. “Magic; enchantments; witchcraft; divination by the assistance or supposed assistance of evil spirits, or the power of commanding evil spirits.” (WEBSTERS 1828) God judged Israel for her sorcery: “But these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments.” (Is.47:12) One of the sins that people in the last days will refuse to repent of is sorcery: “Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.” (Re.9:21) Babylon the Great is said to have deceived the nations with sorcery: “for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.” (Re.18:23)

  

But this is not all—Do not think that only visible sins such as the above are marks of lack of conversion. It is out of the heart that the issues of life come.

(1)    Wilful ignorance: Seeing the truth and then claiming to have not seen it. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” (Ho.4:6) “When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, and set them on fire: for it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour.” (Is.27:11) “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:” (2Th.1:8)

(2)    Not leaving all: These have kept back something just in case Jesus does not fulfill them. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Lk.14:26) “For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.” (Lk.14:28-33)

(3)    Formality in religion: Like the Pharisees. “But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Lk.11:43) “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. … Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (Ja.1:19-24,27)

(4)    Trusting their own righteousness: “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” (Ph.3:9) “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Is.64:6)

(5)    Secret hate against holiness: They do that which they must to maintain their profession of Christ but inside despise it all the while.

(6)    Love of the world and carnality: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1Jn.2:15) “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (Ja.4:4) “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Ga.5:24)

(7)    Carnal security: This is a presumptuous confidence that they are good with God. Crying peace and safety where there is none. Is your peace Scripture peace? Can you show the marks of a sound believer? Can you show that you have something more than any hypocrite in the world ever had?

 

Conclusion

No man is saved except by sound conversion. God must make the conversion and when God converts a man we may be assured that “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” This is only true, as the Apostle testifies, if “any man be in Christ,” only then is he or she “a new creature.” (2Co.5:17)

 

In your work with lost men and women and youths, you are the messenger that bears the needed message. Drive it home with love for that person’s eternal welfare and let the Spirit of God and the person’s conscience go to work.

 

Ask the right questions. When was the time of your conversion? Where was the place of your conversion? By what means where you converted? (How did you get saved?) How do you know you are saved?

 

A man can judge himself by the Word of God now, while there is hope, or wait and the Word will judge him unto the eternal damnation of his soul. Exhort men to be very careful and impartial with their examination and judgement, even ruthless with themselves in searching for the truth of their state before the God who knows all things.

 

 

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