“Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, so walk in him.” (Col. 2:6)
The Bible teaches that a person becomes a Christian when they have received Jesus Christ as Lord (Col. 2:6). That means a person becomes a Christian when they are born again into a new relationship with God through Christ. In this new relationship, the person now has submissive trust in Christ and the heart of that person is fundamentally changed so that as a child of God he longs to do the will of his heavenly Father. In Scripture, the “natural” or “fleshy” person is a person who still lives according to their natural desires. This kind of person is a non-Christian (Rom. 8:4-9; 1 Cor. 2:14-15). When a person is born again, their pattern of life is no longer natural or fleshy but now is “spiritual.”
This doctrine of conversion is sometimes distorted today by a teaching called the doctrine of carnal Christianity. This teaching says that a person can accept Jesus as Savior while they reject Jesus as Lord. Put another way, this teaching says a person can live a carnal life in disobedience to Christ and yet be a Christian at the same time. This teaching is not rightly grounded in Scripture, however. One significant problem is that it misunderstands the doctrine of regeneration. The Bible teaches that true Christians are distinguishable from non-Christians (or pseudo-Christians) by the nature of their loves and by the character of their lives.
The changed life of a Christian is imperfect and incomplete on this side of heaven, but by God’s grace the changed life of a Christian is also real, observable and inevitable.
“By this it is evident who are the children of God and who are the children of the devil; whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” (1 John 3:10)