Common Mistakes Young Converts Make About The Christian Life.
When a person experiences true conversion to Christ its usually a painful process, much as natural birth is such a traumatic experience for the human frame. The new convert possibly will have gone through a period of deep and intense conviction of sin when he feels himself to be worthless in the sight of God. He may have said as Job did, “The arrows of the Almighty are within me; my spirit drinks in their poison; the terrors of God are arrayed against me,” (Job 6:4). Then came the joy of knowing that all sins have been forgiven in Christ, that he was pardoned and accepted, righteous in the sight of God and as beloved of God as Christ Himself is (see Acts 8:39). It is at this point that many make serious errors which if not soon corrected will make them unstable for many years.
1. Young Christians frequently fail to watch and nourish their spiritual life.
It is natural for those who have felt the peace which flows after conversion to think that the conflict is over and the victory is won. This, of course, is a mistake. Birth is not the whole of life neither is conversion the whole of Christianity. A young mother may, in the fullness of her joy, forget for a moment the great duties that lie before her. But when she looks at her infant she soon realizes that it is totally dependent on her. An hour’s neglect might prove its ruin.
Thus the young Christian, although at first disposed to think his work is finished now that he is converted, soon finds that the feeble principle of spiritual life needs to be watched and nourished with ceaseless care (Prov 4:23;2 Pet.3:18) If abandoned at its birth, it must perish as certainly and speedily as an exposed infant.
2. Young Christians sometimes fail to realize that the Christian life is a life of steady progress.
They suppose that Christianity is a life of starts and stops. A ship at sea is at the mercy of prevailing winds: one day a powerful current of air will drive it at the rate of several knots per hour; the next day there will hardly be a breeze and a little progress is made.
Similarly a young convert will sometime live contentedly for months in unconcern and then, moved by a sermon, will make a great exertions in his spiritual exercises for a season. This is a great error. No form of life is so intermittent: plants and animals do not live like like this. Men do not, when in health, pass from fits of great energy to complete inactivity, then from inactivity to great energy again. In the same way the Christian life, when genuine, does not assume this form. It has indeed, its ups and downs, just as there are periods of health and sickness in man. But Christianity is steady, active, and progressive; and not a series of spasms.
3. Young Christian sometimes think true Christianity is in external service rather than internal service.
They are persuaded that their entire religion in outward things,the attendance of religious services or public worship. They will tend to measure zeal by these outward things. This is a common mistake as they have yet to learn that true Christianity is a matter of true devotion unto the Lord; the outward service springs from genuine gratitude and love to the Lord (1 John 3:16–18;4:7–11). They need to be taught that it is not our outward service that God looks at but rather our motives. Religion consists, in a great measure, in the secret fellowship of the soul with God; in those acts of adoration, gratitude, confidence, and submission which the eye of man cannot see, and with which the stranger cannot interfere.
Young converts therefore need to be taught to be diligent in watching over their souls to guard the spiritual life that God has planted there. They need to be taught to nourish that life so that there is a steady consistent growth into the image of our beloved Savior. And they need to be taught that true inner devotion to God which gives rise to joyful outward service and obedience.
Adapted from an article written by Charles Hodge(1797–1878), professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Theology Seminary(1822–1878) Edited and re-shared from Grace and Truth issue №106, 2005.