I’ve always found the concept of the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ somewhat vague—I accept Jesus into my heart around age 10, and He lives inside me. What if I make Jesus’ living conditions—within my heart—completely uninhabitable? In truth, the prayer is more of a contract. Whether I hold up to my end or not, is to be determined.
The real question is, what kind of contract is it? Is Jesus buying or leasing? Have we been ‘bought with a price’, giving Him authority over our lives? Or is He merely a renter, unable to make any permanent alterations without petitioning us first?
Let’s say you’ve just moved into a new crib. All day long you’ve been moving in your stuff, and as you sit down to rest, you hear the front door unlock. WTF! [freak] In comes in the old tenant. And he’s just as shocked to see you, as you are to see him.
“Hey! What are you doing?!” you both exclaim.
If the home is legally yours, meaning, you’ve paid for it, then you have the authority to kick him out. But if you’re leasing, the landlord must be called to resolve the issue.
“Why the freak does he have a key??” you both exclaim.
Picture a scenario where the landlord mistakenly overlapped the rental agreements, and the old tenant still had a month left on his contract. How shockingly unreasonable would it be if he asked you two to co-habitate… “just for a month.”
As ridiculous as this scenario sounds, it’s what we do to Jesus. We give him the key to ‘our heart’ without taking the key from the old tenant, the flesh. When confronted with the issue, we insist that the two tenants co-habitate. In our defense, the flesh is ‘moving out.’
Not just a month, but years pass by. Our humble Lord has been sleeping on the couch while the flesh retains the master bedroom. As Jesus walks over to inquire about the flesh’s departure, He finds him in His bath robe.
“That’s it. I’m moving out,” Jesus says. “Tell the landlord I’m gone!”
But the flesh has no intention of telling the landlord, us, that Jesus has moved out. Why? Because he’s comfortable; he has the whole heart to himself! In addition, doing so would create serious alarm. After all, we still want Jesus in our heart—not as Lord, but as tenant.
Let’s consider our reasoning for praying the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ to begin with. Many of us invite Jesus in to stave off hell. But if fear is our motivation, then we will only do the bare minimum required to escape it. Just like a slumlord does the bare minimum to keep his tenant.
As far as we know, Jesus still lives here. But it’s just the flesh, wearing His bath robe.
“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30