Begging for a bit of indulgence to deviate slightly in order to demonstrate a life lesson.
I met a young woman named Dinah this weekend. She was with an older friend and coworker named Byron. I had the opportunity to hear both of their testimonies before they were baptized.
Dinah spoke of a sort of coming of age in her own walk with Jesus. She had grown up in a Christian home with Christian parents. She went to church. She prayed. She read her Bible. She had even been baptized before.
But when she went to college, she realized something was missing. She was not going to church. She was not with her parents. Her faith was not her own, but it was her parents. She had gone to church, prayed and was even baptized because that was what was expected of her to do.
She endeavored to make her faith her own.
As questions were posed to her, the answers seemed to be good but there was a subtle vagueness to them. She never had a testimony of responding to an invitation, nor really saying a sinner’s prayer. She did have a testimony of asking God to be real to her and work in her.
When the attention turned to her friend Byron, things become crystal clear. By looks alone, this man seemed to be old enough to be Dinah’s father. He was a coworker.
Byron, knowing Dinah was a Christian asked her to pray for him as he was going through a dramatic and emotional upheaval of his life. She said I can pray for you and sensed he need more than prayer. She told him she would pray for him but said it would be better for him to come to come sit next to her in church.
Byron soon became a Christian. He knows the day he was saved, and two months later was standing in front us ready to be baptized.
As I was listening to all of this, I could not help but to think of Peter’s second epistle. In that writing Peter speaks of distinct groups of people by seemingly similar phrases. The first group are those saved, the ones who escape the corruption of the world and partake of the divine nature. Dinah’s testimony comes in Peter’s words.
His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who has called us by His own glory and excellence, by which He has given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, so that through these things you might become partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world through lust.2 Peter 1:3–4 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
These are real Christians. They can be babes in the faith or seasoned saints. Nevertheless, these live as a partakers of the divine nature. The divine nature is permanent, and such speaks to the permanence of salvation as a part of the divine nature.
Look at how Peter’s further encouragement to these saints helps us to see the shining Light of Dinah’s testimony.
For this reason make every effort to add virtue to your faith; and to your virtue, knowledge; and to your knowledge, self-control; and to your self-control, patient endurance; and to your patient endurance, godliness; and to your godliness, brotherly kindness; and to your brotherly kindness, love. For if these things reside in you and abound, they ensure that you will neither be useless nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But the one who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted because he has forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.2 Peter 1:5–9 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Dinah did know all of the Christianeze. Yet she also knew something was missing. She also knew she had sinned and fallen short of the perfection God demands. She went to Jesus as He is the only way to escape the certainty of that corruption that comes from those defilements.
In her own youth, it seems she forgot to make her faith her own. She didn’t add virtue to her faith. She didn’t add knowledge to that virtue. There is a chain of things we must add to our faith, which brings us to godliness, brotherly kindness, and love for others.
Dinah had the protection of family and church. It was when she left she realized she missed the fellowship of the Spirit of God, though she never voiced it that way. The reality was clear.
It’s easy to relish in that when we go to church and have a Christian family. The presence of the Holy Spirit is always there. When we become separate from others who have the indwelling Spirit that comes by that faith… If we’ve not matured we sense the emptiness. Sometimes that emptiness comes from not really being a saint. I trust that isn’t the case with anyone reading this, but if it is… It’s quickly rectified by asking Jesus to save you right now. That’s the best way to start.
This neglect of our faith leads to a bit of shortsightedness. It will eventually place the memories of salvation into the far recesses of the mind, only to be forgotten.
Nevertheless, Dinah worked out her own faith. She cried out to Jesus to be real to her. Instead of being useless and unfruitful to God, she had the opportunity to ensure another man was led to Jesus. She was the willing tool God used to bring a radical change in Byron’s life.
Byron’s presence and testimony proved that Dinah was indeed saved and useful to God. She is bearing fruit in her walk with Jesus.
It was an awesome thing to see both of them baptized that morning. There is such a satisfying sweetness in the juxtaposition of a young lady leading an older man to Jesus.
There is that second group of folks Peter also describes.
Although they promise them freedom, they themselves are slaves of corruption, for by that which a man is overcome, to this he is enslaved. For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and then turn back from the holy commandment that was delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb, “The dog returns to his own vomit,” and “the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mud.”2 Peter 2:19–22 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Here Peter is talking specifically about the false teacher. He doesn’t have kind words. What is clear from Peter’s writing is that these false teachers have some knowledge of Jesus and the way of righteousness. But they reject it. They turn their back on the Holy command, you must be born again.
These are ones that have a familiarity with the Holy Spirit because they may have grown up in a Christian home or they have even attended church for some time. They’ve read their Bible, sang worship songs and may have even been baptized. In that sense, they escape the defilements… The sins and decadence of the world for a season. They enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit not inside of them, but around them. When they leave those environs these become entangled again in the mess they left. The end is worse for them.
It’s not that they are doomed, but much more unlikely to come to their senses and be born again.
As I am reading this portion of text this morning and thinking of yesterday, I rejoice in Dinah’s repentance. Yes, there was real evidence, not so much as on a certain day she said a certain prayer or responded to a preacher’s pleading. She reached out to God for herself by herself because she knew something was missing and He is the only remedy. He answered her!
For those of you reading this far, if you are a Christian and have neglected your faith, start feeding it. Pray to God, ask for help, and read your Bible. That’s adding virtue. Continued reading and prayer adds knowledge. These things make your faith stronger and a continued exercise of that faith muscle makes a mature believer. One unmovable in faith who truly loves and serves others.
But what if you read this and have gone to church or had Christian parents, but cannot seem to escape the siren call of the decadence of the world that entangles you?
I have one answer. Come to your senses. Stop indulging your flesh, and hang out in that community where the Holy Spirit works. Repent… That means change your mind. Acknowledge that Jesus is right. Believe He is God, that He died to atone for all sins, the sins of the whole world. And confess that aloud to Him.
You can renounce your old way of life. You can take back control of your own life. You can ask Jesus to save you. You can escape the corruption of th world and that comes by lust. But you need Jesus inside of you first. That’s the hint command, you must be born again.
If there is one thing that I am sure of, Jesus can change your life.
If you’re not sure about anything here, and need help… You can send a message via the contact section. Find a Christian friend to listen.
Note: The testimonies are accurate though the names have been changed.