If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9-10
Almost 22 years ago, my wife and I said “I do” to each other, beginning our lives together as husband and wife. Upon saying those two little words, we were legally married. Simply saying the words, however, didn’t make me a good husband. Over the next 15 years, as my life became more and more consumed by my addiction, I became less and less the husband I was supposed to be. Yes, I said the magical words, but I failed to live out the commitment I’d made.
In the disastrous consequences of my addiction, my wife felt I didn’t love her, but only the drug. I found that unfair, but I had to admit that I’d abandoned everything, including her, for my addiction. Legally, I was married, but practically, I wasn’t living as a husband should. What did that make our marriage? My choice at that moment determined the answer to that question and our future.
We often try to sell and oversimplify things by invoking magical phrases. Just take the marriage vows and you will live happily ever after. We do this, I think, with our faith as well. We take passages like today’s and we attempt to boil salvation down to a magical phrase. Just believe in Jesus, and say that you follow him, and – poof – you’re saved! Many of us have “asked Jesus into our hearts”, and then assumed the job was complete. We’ve gone our way believing a thing in our mind, without ever living it out. Then, we wonder why our lives haven’t changed at all. We still struggle with the same old things and we’re still enslaved to our self-destructive nature.
We have the same problem I had in my marriage. We’ve said the words, but we’ve stopped there. Confessing Jesus as Lord is just the beginning of faith. Yes, we must make the initial confession, but then, if we truly believe, our lives will follow. Many of us have officially said the words, but practically, we’re not living as disciples of Christ. We’re not saved by our behavior. We’re saved only by faith. But if our behavior never changes, we’ve got to ask if that faith is even real. How we respond to that question has profound and eternal consequences.
Fortunately for me, my loving wife gave me time to answer the question and to change. I’m certainly not a perfect husband or Christian now, but today, I’m sober and daily working on abandoning me to follow Christ. Today, I’m living out the “I do” as a husband to my beautiful wife.