“What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.” (Romans 6:15-19)
One of the great tragedies of modern evangelism is has been the heresy that in order to “be saved”, all you have to do is “ask Jesus into your heart”. The truth of the matter is that I’ve personally never understood what that terminology really meant. The implication of this heretical teaching is that you don’t need to change your life because Jesus loves you just the way you are. The reality is that Jesus loves you too much to keep you the way you are. Otherwise, His sacrifice on the cross was meaningless.
If the life you are leading is no different after you “experienced Christ”, then you haven’t experienced Him. No person in all of Scripture has ever encountered Jesus and not walked away changed. Those who chose to follow Him experienced a renewed sense of life. Those who chose to walk away experienced despondency and some even experienced rage to the point of plotting His murder. A genuine encounter with Jesus leaves you changed; the question is what kind of change do you experience?
Do you draw closer to Him, recognizing that the life you were once leading wasn’t good enough because only He is good enough? Or do you reject His call to repentance and continue to live your life the same degenerate life you were already living serving only yourself and your appetites? Are you a slave to your self and sin or are you a bondservant of the Most High God? There is no in between.
The cost of discipleship is the taking up of your cross daily to follow Him. This means identifying with His death, recognizing that your old life was not enough. It was empty and devoid of eternal meaning. It has been said that we are all born with a hole in our hearts that we try to fill with all manner of temporal stuff: money, possessions, people, sex, drugs, entertainment. Anything to dull the pain of that longing to be truly fulfilled.
Like the woman at the well, we float from one dalliance to the next seeking comfort in the arms of another, but never experiencing hope or peace along the way. But Jesus comes along and offers water from a well that never runs dry. Water that quenches the eternal thirst. Water that refreshes and brings life unimaginable. This is the compassion of Christ – He loves us so much that He welcomes us and desires to have a relationship with us, even though we do not deserve His mercy or compassion. But He loves us too much to leave us in our sin. He seeks to transform our lives and instill within our hearts hope. Hope that only comes when we choose to follow Him.