In the bible – there are two types of people: believers and unbelievers. Jesus in Matthew 24 calls believers ‘sheep’ and unbelievers ‘goats’, sending the ‘sheep’ to heaven and the ‘goats’ to hell.
There are roughly three types of “Christians” in Christianity.
1. Christians who are followers of Jesus Christ:
They express their love by growing in His Word.
2. Christians who are followers of Jesus Christ but are temporarily deceived:
These Christians have been hoodwinked by false Christian movements and have been deceived into elevating men and their teachings above Christ and His teachings. They know something is wrong and are trying to put their finger on it while they are being tossed by every wave and wind of doctrine. They do hear God’s voice and attempt to discern the true from the false, eventually to be led out of a false church into a good church – generally at great cost.
3. “Christians” who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ but are not:
However, inwardly they express hatred towards Jesus by twisting His person, His name and His Word. This person is no Christian at all. Their “fruit” is on display when they attack Christ and His Church and elevate their pagan leaders and their teachings above Jesus Christ and His Word.
This article will hopefully help you identify the difference between these types of Christians.
WHO ARE WE TO LABEL PEOPLE FALSE CHRISTIANS?
Answer: According to God’s Word, Christians are those who have the ability to label people false Christians.
If Jesus and His disciples gave Christianity the ability to discern who is and isn’t a Christian – then we should do so accordingly, but respectfully, lovingly and sensitively.
To claim someone is not a Christian is a very serious and provocative thing to do. However, if all the signs of unbelief and paganism are there, we are not loving at all if we do not call them out for who they are, and call them to repent.
THIS ISN’T LOVING! WHY DO THIS?
If we don’t deal with false converts (often made by false prophets/teachers), Paul says “the way of truth will be blasphemed.”
If we cannot clearly represent God and His Word because false Christians are making up their own deities and slapping “Jesus” on them, the world has every excuse to blaspheme God.
False Christians need to be weeded out of the church if they refuse to repent of their paganism and sins. The best way to do this is to use the Matthew 18 approach and other biblical models as best as possible.
To give you an example why this labeling needs to occur is based on various experiences we’ve seen. Here’s an example:
A woman was highly offended that she was not considered to be a Christian by a church. When we asked her why,
she claimed she loved Jesus and didn’t understand why they had issues with her believing that Jesus was born only
a man (and not from a virgin), and never rose from the dead. Nevertheless, she claimed she felt she had a deep relationship with Jesus.
That church lovingly let her know she was not a Christian because she denied the fundamentals of the Christian faith. But is it biblical for us to call out false Christians? Well if we look at Jesus and His disciples, they did. Does that mean we should?
The Apostle Paul writes,
“And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1
And when we look at Paul and the Apostles, they did not shy away from claiming who were in and out of the faith. They encourage us to discriminate in this fashion and encourage us as believers to not have fellowship or associate with false Christians. Even the writer of Hebrews appears to think that we have the ability to discern such important issues in Hebrews 4-6.
NOTE: This does not mean we are playing God, we should NEVER play God.
However, He has given us all the signs to help us discern who is of Him and who is not of Him in His Word.
In fact, God expects us to deal with those who are not of Him.
SO HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY TRUE & FALSE CHRISTIANS?
To answer that question, Jesus talks about two types of disciples:
“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness,
the love of most will grow cold…
… but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 24:10-13
This means we can identify true and false Christians through a number of different means.
A disciple of Jesus Christ loves Jesus by keeping His Word. Jesus says:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. […] Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him. […] If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him.” John 14: 15, 21, 23
A false disciple will often oppose the teachings of Jesus Christ, twisting and perverting His teaching to make up their own deity, one that suits their spiritual desires. Christ and His disciples did NOT tolerate such idolatry and perversion.
“God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.'” 1 Corinthians 5:13
Jesus made it clear who were of God and who weren’t. Those who claimed to be believers, Jesus exposed that they were unregenerate by pointing out their language and their comprehension/understanding.
“Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!” John 8:43-45
However Christians are instructed and live in Christ
“… will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” Ephesians 4:13
A false worshiper will:
follow “false prophets … [and] will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
And in their greed they will exploit [them] with false words.” 2 Peter 1:3
A false Christian, will “follow their sensuality.” Goats care about themselves.
A true worshiper will:
“… will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” John 4:23-4
Jesus claims that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and that His sheep hear his voice. Sheep care about ‘The Truth’.
Interestingly, the bible exposes how Christian and a false Christian reflect those whom they follow.
A Christian who is someone who has been raised,
“… in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature,
attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
And it appears Paul suggests the opposite are like,
“… infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching
and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” Ephesians 4:13-14
A Christian leader is instructed to:
“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this,
for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16
Likewise, Christian leaders want Christians to be,
“Be sober-minded; be watchful.” 1 Peter 5:8
On the contrary, false leaders are:
“… like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed,
blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction,
suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing.” 1 Timothy 4:16
We see their followers act similarly, following after their leaders’ sensuality. Sober-mindedness is not an option.
In fact, they discourage it. They literally are like the pagans Paul talks about in Romans 1,
“… suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.” Romans 1:18
Sadly, there are many people who claim to be Christians who are not, and that number seems to be growing by the day. It’s LOVING to point these “Christians” back to God’s Word and challenge their beliefs. Christ crucified for our sins is what saves souls from Hell, not a “Jesus” made in the imaginations of men who tell people to have their “best lives now.”