In many ways, deceived “Christians” who believe they are saved because of a denominational affiliation or because they responded to a “sinner’s prayer” altar call, are the most challenging to reach with the true gospel. They have been misled into a false security because of upbringing or an emotional response in a time of desperation. Their false sense of security and cursory knowledge of the Bible makes this group particularly challenging.
This group includes people who believe their human works can make them righteous before God. Many are very moral people by human comparison, but have been led to believe their relative moralism saves them before a just, perfect God. They often claim Jesus as “savior” but do not acknowledge Him as “Lord” of their lives.
By using the Word of God, show them that the Bible says all men are condemned from birth and deserve eternal damnation (this is our default position us fallen humans). The Old Testament teaches that only by the shedding of innocent blood could God forgive the sins of men. However to pay the price demanded by a just God for the eternal forgiveness of sin, the sacrifice must be both blameless, yet human—since men sinned. Only Jesus Christ—100% God and 100% human—could be that sacrifice.
Romans 10:9 is a verse that tells us that unless Jesus is Lord of their lives, he is not their savior. Jesus must be our first love and he tells us “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). The “Lordship” of Jesus will often counter what they have learned about a cheap grace implied by what they have learned. Assure them that occasional sin no longer separates us from God—that the Holy Spirit is the beginning of our being sanctified in this lifetime, in preparation for eternal life with God. He will convict us of our hidden sins and draw us into a life of holiness, culminated when we are with God in heaven.
Be gentle, loving and truthful. Do not directly question their love of God or their salvation. Simply use God’s Word to expose them to the truth. Help them understand the demands of a perfectly just and holy God, and that only Jesus’ atonement can pay the price demanded by a just, perfect God. Then point out Romans 10:9 and be prepared to show them what a disciple and a person who claims to love Jesus does (John 14:15).
Share that once we become born again by God’s Spirit, that He begins a transforming work in our lives leading to holiness and righteous living, to be fulfilled when we enter eternal life with God. “Without holiness, no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Only being born again in the Holy Spirit can make us holy—our human efforts will always fall way short. We will never be perfect in this lifetime, but we are to seek perfection by the power of The Holy Spirit.