[These thoughts and opinions were previously posted as a comment on a highly recommended (and beautiful) website The Life Project: Finding Clear and Simple Faith. My friend, Don, inspires me and keeps me on track.]
I believe it is virtually impossible to know if someone is truly a Christian…that he or she has truly accepted Jesus for Who He is, etc. I have encountered several people who play the ‘Christian card,’ (quoting scripture, etc.) as a short cut to convincing me that they are ‘trustworthy, honest, caring, generous, etc.’ These people are usually hiding something or are offering something that does not hold up under closer scrutiny.
People can say anything…even to themselves. In fact, for a long time, I had difficulty knowing if I, myself, had truly believed or accepted. I’m sure other people can be deluded, as well. They may not be intentionally misleading others or even themselves…although their fruit gives us a clue.
Even if they have truly accepted and believe, character change is almost never immediate or complete. That’s what this life before the afterlife is about. I believe life on this earth is where God works on us to try and ‘get it right.’ So, even a true Christian…someone who believes and accepts…can still be untrustworthy. I don’t call them ‘wolves’ as much as ‘unfinished;’ God is not done with them, yet. They are not ‘of Satan,’ but are vulnerable and capable of being used by Satan. That’s why I don’t touch statements like, “If you are not of Christ then you are of the Devil.”
“Of the Devil,” implies they are bought and paid for…if not minions…of Satan. However, I don’t think that is true of any human because Jesus bought and paid for ALL of us and there is hope as long as there is breath…and I’m not even sure there isn’t hope after that.
What fruit someone bears is a good indication of how finished he or she is…but one should always be careful, prayerful, and cautious. (If in doubt, saying out loud, “In the Name of Jesus, get away from me, Satan,” doesn’t hurt, either.) But just because someone is not just like Jesus, does not mean they are to be judged, condemned, or accused. I prefer the terms ‘assessed,’ then cautioned and advised. God is not done with any of us, yet. Thank you, Jesus, and to God be the Glory.
(The image posted up top is borrowed from the internet. See https://meganabigailwhite.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/potter_s.jpg )