All things that die go through a transformation process that is not instantaneous. A seed in the soil lies dormant for growth later, absorbing moisture and nutrients to grow, or it dies. Death brings a process of decay. The molecular structures break down, other external microorganisms feed on it, and death is eventually seen on the outside. This is true of all living things.
Loss of life leads to death. Then the disintegration process expresses the internal death externally. The time between death and its expression is called the gap of death. From the time humanity lost its original design of living in a spiritual relationship with God, it has been in a process of great transformation in its expressions of inner reality of the loss of life.
Unlike any other creature, humanity is able to live physically without its original Source of life. Even though we are dead spiritually, we are alive in the mind and body. This is exactly why seeking the fountain of youth and immortality is as old as human civilization. The spirituality inside us desperately desires and seeks immortality. Duplicity of religious expressions is the external expression of an internal death state. Through the centuries, these have changed based on culture, politics, and economic progress while the religion called Christianity has its own expressions as well.
When the expressions and behaviors of Christianity become the primary evidence, we have created the religion called Christianity. Christian behavior is possible without Christ, but it is impossible to have Christ and not have Christlike behavior. There is a major difference between these. When we define our Christian identity by what we do, we belong to a religion called Christianity.
Through the next section, we will outline thirteen Key Death Indicators of Christian behavior that line up more with the fallen creation than with original design. These will help us contrast the major differences between the religion of Christianity and having a relationship with Christ.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12–14)
Privilege identity is what God does through us. Human beings confuse this with what God does in us—the transformational experience of sonship identity as a child of God.
For centuries people have developed the ability to do the supernatural in and through the natural realm. This is common in Eastern mysticism, African voodoo, and Latin American shamanism. The physical realm can use the supernatural realm to produce amazing wonders. This is not a relationship but a transaction for financial gain. God is relational. The Enemy is transactional. Just because the name of Jesus is used does not mean Jesus is present. In fact, all too often we find a wolf in sheep’s clothing among God’s people.
Paul put it this way in 2 Corinthians 2:17: “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.” The Greek word for peddle is kapeleuo. This means to sell products or services for a profit. By profession a tent maker, Paul knew what making a profit meant. In fact, through his business profit, he sustained himself and his team in Thessalonica. But when it came to preaching and teaching the Word, he operated on a cost model and not a profit model, as he stated in 1 Timothy 6:5: “And constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.”
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:22–23)
Fallen creation wrongly believes all miraculous displays to be of God. Jesus clearly teaches that supernatural works by themselves do not prove human beings are children of God. We may claim to know Jesus and use His name, but what truly matters is if Jesus knows us (Matthew 7:21–23)! The former is religion; the latter is relationship. Relationship involves two people knowing one another. The religion of Christianity defines “identity” by what we do and our knowledge of Jesus.
We tend to think that Eastern mysticism and African witch doctors are spiritual counterfeits, but much like these, twenty-first-century Christianity is now predominantly also about the supernatural displayed through the mind and body with no transformational image of Jesus being formed in the individual. If the experience of Jesus’ activity ends with a miracle of the mind or body without an ongoing transformational Spirit-to-spirit relational communion, this experience is a counterfeit.
Supernatural eloquence and healing do not prove Christian identity even if they claim the name of Jesus. Because of their fallen nature, human beings mistake the power of God for the Person of God. They also confuse what God does with who He is. When the “doings” of God do not lead to the transformational formation of the being of God but keep people in the ever-seeking deception of going after the attributes of God, this is a key death indicator of the fallen creation humanity.