This is the continuation of an answer I gave to a friend’s email question about Christianity, especially as it relates to salvation:
If we don’t have faith in Christ in that we reject him and what he has to offer (eternal life), then obviously we won’t be spending eternity with him. Jesus said in Matthew 10:32-33:
“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.” (NRSV)
If you didn’t want to have anything to do with God or Jesus in this life, why would you expect to have anything to do with him in the next? Again, it’s not a matter of works, sin, or anything else. It is a matter of faith in Christ.
If you have truly turned your life over to Christ, you will be a better person. That’s because you have repented (turned your life around) and the Holy Spirit is working within you in the process of sanctification (improving you). We all still continue to sin, but it should be less and less so that eventually you are dead (unresponsive) to the temptations and allures of this world. As the bumper sticker says, “Christians aren’t perfect – just forgiven.” Since we aren’t perfect, the church is “full of hypocrites” but these “hypocrites” are hopefully striving for perfection, with God’s help.
Those who have decided to follow Christ will try to emulate Christ, who was the perfect man, and will also try to comply with God’s moral law as written in the Old Testament and confirmed in the New. Notice I said “moral law”. That concerns our behavior, but does not include the ceremonial or ritual law such as the dietary laws, animal sacrifices, etc. Jesus did away with all of them. But to glorify God and be pleasing to him, followers of Jesus are expected to live as God has directed in the Bible (not to earn our way to heaven, but to please God because we love God).
More of my answer to a friend’s question about Christianity in Part III.