3 Signs You're a Functional Atheist
BIG IDEA: We fight for the faith through fervent obedience.
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Many Christians today have an ever present, faith-threatening blind spot. They say they believe in God but then live as though He doesn’t exist. It may sound harsh, but the truth is: they are functional atheists.
This was a problem in the early church as well. Jude wrote to a group of Christians who were under pressure to compromise their faith. He warned them not to give in to the culture around them and challenged them to contend for the faith, to fight for the essential content of Christian belief.
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” Jude 1:3-4 NIV
What Jude had to say then is still relevant today. In these two verses, we find three signs that we, like those in Jude’s day, may be functional atheists:
1. We live as if there is no God.
What we believe is revealed by how we behave. If we live in a godlessness manner rather than increasing in holiness, our practice is in contradiction with our profession.
2. We pervert grace to promote licentious living.
If we use grace to justify continued sin, we have missed the very heart of grace. Grace frees us FROM sin and TO obedience.
3. We refuse to let Christ rule our lives.
We want Christ to save us, but don’t want Him to be sovereign. If we consistently rebel against God’s Word, we need consider whether He has truly redeemed us.
Jude highlighted the godlessness of the people of his time to contrast such behavior with the godliness their lives should have been exhibiting. In our day, there’s still the same subtle but strong pull in every heart to live as if there is no God, to pervert grace as a way of promoting licentious living, and to refuse to let Christ rule our lives. We need the help of God’s Spirit to resist this pull and increase in godliness and holiness.
The way we contend for the faith is through fervent obedience, obedience that is not self-empowered but powered by God’s grace.