By Akin Ojumu

Gone are the days when getting identified as a born-again Christian was akin to being outed as a closet homosexual. Those were times when to be unmasked as one of the born-agains was to provoke the wrath of parents, incite fury of siblings, and invite the ridicule of everyone else. 

Back then, many born again believers paid a hefty price for yielding to the tug of the Holy Spirit on their soul. The “SUs", as they were derogatorily called back then, endured relationship schisms, encountered academic upheaval, experienced job loss, and incurred financial ruin. For many of these "holy rollers", life after answering the altar call became a living hell.

But that was then, and this is now. Born-againism has since become fashionable. Nowadays, every Tom, Dick and Harry is born-again. The armed robber cum kidnapper caught in the act is born again. The unscrupulous politician who hoards COVID-19 relief food supplies meant for his constituents is equally born again. The lecherous senior apostle who makes it a habit of copulating with a female member of the choir before taking the pulpit to preach his powerful sermon is most certainly born again. 

So widely popular has this foundational Christian experience become that there are even Imams and Alfas who say they too are born-again Muslims. Like all the fads that are here today and gone tomorrow, self-identification as “born-again” is the latest obsession of a fickle-minded, fad-obsessed generation.

As I think about the society’s broad and open acceptance of this once derided life-transforming experience, what keeps ringing at the back of my mind is the phrase “one-trick pony”. This is a popular idiom that originated from the circus. It's used to describe a pony trained to perform one trick. There's even an old joke about it that tells of a certain circus that was so bad, the trick the one-trick pony performed was to play dead (Grammatist).

You see, Satan is the quintessential one-trick pony. As cunning and slithery as he appears to be, those who take the time to understand his cunningness quickly discover that he doesn’t have too many tricks in his devilish playbook. Whatever Satan cannot stop, he co-opts and corrupts. That has been his modus operandi since the day he got thrown out from the Shekinah Glory.

Among all of God’s creation, Satan is a master imitator and counterfeiter. The devil does not have the seed of creativity in him; only the man into whom God breathed the breath of life can create and produce something good. But because the nature of the world is inherently evil, the goodness in our world is always subject to corruption by the devil. Satan’s specialty is to twist, imitate, and pollute everything good that is created. For every pure and pleasant thing that exists in this world, Satan always works to make it impure and rotten. He pollutes the goodness of the salvation experience and creates a counterfeit of faux born-again believers. And the devil's counterfeit is always odious.

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus instructs us to, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” In other words, the light that shines out of the life of a born-again believer is the light of good works, demonstrated righteous deeds.

There are people who believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Messiah. They believe He was sent by God and that He descended from heaven to earth. But Jesus, in Matthew 5:16, is saying believing is not enough. Why? Because demons also believe, and they tremble. Belief in God is not enough to save anyone unless the belief results in a transformed life.

“Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5: 17).

Believing alone cannot save unless it involves a transformation, the passing away of the old life and the birthing of a new one, which leads to a life of obedience to God's precepts and commands.

The validity of the Christian faith is the fruit that the Christian bears. A genuine faith is a living faith that produces works of righteousness. The person with this kind of faith is both a hearer and doer of the Word (James 1:22).

Whereas a false faith is a dead faith and it’s nothing more than an intellectual belief characterized by the absence of righteous deeds. It is a belief that confers no relief from eternal damnation. The person whose faith is dead is a hearer, but not a doer, of the Word. Such a one deceives himself thinking his dead faith will save him (James 1:22).

The Book of James 2:14-20 paints a vivid picture of such a dead faith. It’s one exemplified by empty confession (James 2:14), symbolized by false compassion (James 2:15-16), and epitomized by shallow conviction (James 18-19). And in the words of a gifted teacher of Scripture I greatly respect:

“The church of Jesus Christ must deal with the soul-damning impression that a simple knowledge of the gospel is equal to acceptance of saving faith. We must deal with the deception and the delusion that knowing the truth equals redemption. It’s almost as if people think that what you don’t deny you must believe, and that would be sufficient.”

 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21).

You are kidding yourself, if you thought going to church, paying your tithe, having a title, singing in the choir, praying for hours, fasting for days, speaking in tongues, giving prophecies, performing miracles, being addressed as "daddy or mummy" is going to save you from ending up in hell. I’m sorry to disappoint you, they won’t if your faith is dead faith. 

“For the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. (2 Timothy 2:19).


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