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Sitting in a pew during mass or a church service does not make anybody a Christian. This is truth. F0llowing church Sacraments does not make us holy, either. In fact, no church Sacrament has the ability to save one's soul aside from placing one's faith in Christ alone by faith alone. @Scotty17 gave me the idea for this topic, so my thanks to him in advance. He's a solid preacher of the truth.
What makes us a Christian consists of three things: repentance, renouncing our former lifestyles, and releasing others from the harm they have done to us. These come with the Christian conversion experience (faith in Christ) and are thus essential.
Again, @Scotty17 spoke a lot about what it means to repent, so I won't delve into this too deeply, but rather refer you to his topic on his blog here on read.cash. It's a remarkable read rife with spiritual insight.
At any rate, the need for repentance is a necessary part of Christian conversion. You won't hear a lot about it in churches today. Instead you will hear how much God loves you and I (and He does); how we are forgiven by the shed blood of Jesus on the cross (which is also true); and how prosperous, healthy and easier life will be once we come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The latter is not true.
The fact is, once you become a Christian, life will become more difficult. You will lose friends, co-workers, and even family members. People will refer to you as a Bible thumper and think you have gone off the deep end and are in need of psychiatric help.
This is precisely what the world thinks of those of us who place our trust in Jesus. And if you don't believe me, you who waste your time on #Twitter, can see that recently the communist run platform banned literally thousands of Christians for sharing the gospel of Christ.
So we do not merely need to repent and believe on Jesus and thus be born again, but other things must follow afterwards. And these are important too so do not take them for granted and simply move on after you sincerely repent.
Once we repent, we need to renounce our former lifestyles. I've heard so many testimonies in churches where people stood up and essentially bragged about their past sinful lives. That is not a good testimony for Jesus, friends. This is sinful boasting and a testimony for the powers of darkness.
When we renounce something, we do not bring it back into our memories. If and when we do, the aforementioned powers of darkness are able to grab a new foothold on our lives and tempt us to return to those days of alleged fun and debauchery. Of course, these temptations are lies and are able to harm us spiritually, and yes, even physically.
Therefore, we must make every effort to separate ourselves from our past lifestyles.
We have to be willing to let go of those old memories. Yes, Satan and his minions will bring them to our memories, but we must act quickly and renounce them for what they were/are: sinful practices. This is the key to renouncing our old ways.
Of course, we have to release others from the harm they did to us or our loved ones. In other words, rather than dwell on what happened and what they did, we must be completely willing to forgive the person or persons. Now here I don't mean for one to simply mumble something like, "I forgive so and so." To use a Texas idiom, that dog won't hunt.
Instead, we have to forgive the person completely. This means we need to refuse to allow those old grudges to rise to the surface again. And if and when they do, we renounce them, repent again, and begin the act of forgiveness anew.
I once read a story in Texas about two men in prison there. One was a recent convert who had found Jesus behind those cold steel bars that clank open and closed so often you'd think it was done on purpose. Anyway, the man's sister had been brutally murdered. The Christian totally forgave the killer. I don't know if the story is still around or not, but it is called: "I Shook the Hand that Killed My Sister."
Listen, repentance, renouncing our past, and releasing others is no easy task. It can be an arduous journey but is nevertheless necessary if we are to live holy lives for a holy God. So I have a prayer I'd like to share with you and for you.
"Heavenly Father, you are worthy of all worship and praise. Despite our sins, you sent your Son Jesus to die on the cross for us so we might live for His glory and spend eternity in your presence. In the name of Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, help me see where I need ro repent, what I need to renounce in my life, and who I need to completely release. I ask these things in the glorious name of Jesus. Amen."