Acts 26:15: So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’
Is there such a thing as an unsanctified worldly Christian? Scripture clearly says no! As seen the example of Paul, when God converts the sinner by a new heart they are set apart, in other words sanctified. Set apart from the world and their old life. Too often what we see in the church are the wafflers. They are excited for a season or two, and then the enthusiasm for Jesus Christ leaves, they go back to the world.
Jesus explains who these worldly “Christians” are in Matthew 13:18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
The modern church mostly ignores this type of discernment. All must be accepted and testing of the congregation is deemed offensive. “How dare you judge me”, is the guilt virtue signaling call in the modern church. Saying that you “love Jesus Christ”, is a shallow statement. The proof comes in your testimony, what your life has become, not in vain declarations or a Facebook post here and there.
The proof is in the Gospel you believe but just as importantly in your desire to share! Not as a hobby or a chore, but because the Gospel has become apart of you!
We can give the benefit of the doubt initially in a declaration of faith, but do NOT pass on the discernment time. If the sinner falls away when tribulation or persecution comes, or because they have never really left the world, or over time is just not understanding the word of God, the discernment flag should go up. This is where testing comes in.
Some will get highly agitated if the mere question of sinful behavior or obvious worldliness comes in. They do not want to repent nor provide an example to the Christian church and make no bones about it. You are just some legalist in their mind who is just too Christian for the modern church. It is not legalism I am proposing, but DISCERNMENT. It is not using one extreme (legalism) for another extreme (non-repentance).
Discernment is knowing the difference is between almost right, and right!
It is not offensive to challenge anyone who claims Christianity for their testimony and witness in Jesus Christ! It is not offensive to challenge anyone who claims Christianity on a sin or their worldly endeavors. If you do get push back and a gas-lighting (making you the villain) or some type of victimhood signaling, the discernment on this could be very well telling you that you exposed a tare among the wheat.
Another test to give is on repentance. If the sin is being worldly, your challenge should be to point out repentance. Those sanctified are set apart, so there should be NO issue in this challenge. Those not set apart by God will resist, fight, protest, and then rationalize why you would challenge them. There will be excuses as well.
John says this 1 John 2:15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
If your challenge to one is “do not love the world”, and they say “yea, but I love the world”, you can reach discernment in whether they were set apart or not. It is that simple. The church is infested with tares and false converts based on the years of zero discernment and accountability to the truth. As Jesus said “the wicked one” has been doing this. The “wicked one” (Satan) has many false teachers in his employ, and they are trained to use everything at their sinful disposal.
Discern others for the sake of the church, Jesus is building. It is the duty of those set apart by God so the Gospel goes forth!