Change from the Inside Out
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5)
In the 1600s, author Matthew Mead published a great book called The Almost Christian Discovered in which he wrote, “The outward change is often without the inward, though the inward change is never without the outward.”
People can go through the motions and not necessarily be Christians. You can pray and not necessarily be a Christian. You can be baptized and not necessarily be a Christian. To the best of your ability you can keep the Ten Commandments and not necessarily be a Christian. You can even believe that Jesus is coming back and not necessarily be a Christian.
People may even make visible changes in their lives and not necessarily be Christians. There was a rich young ruler who came to Jesus and said, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17).
Jesus told him, “You know the commandments,” and then He listed them.
The young man said, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth” (verse 20).
This guy was basically moral. He had kept the commandments to the best of his ability. Certainly he had broken them, but at least he tried. But then Jesus told him what to do, and he wouldn’t do it. He stopped short of Jesus.
It is not your works that make you saved. You put your faith in Christ, and then you will see the evidence in your life. While it is true that faith without works is dead (see James 2:20), it could be said that works without faith is also dead.
You may say, “Well, I went forward at a Harvest Crusade” or “I stood up and prayed a prayer.” That is good, but it doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian. There has to be a movement of your heart toward God.