“A dangerous yet real possibility is that apparent followers of Jesus may not be true disciples at all but only professing believers (e.g. Judas Iscariot)” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p1859, [Matt 18:14]).
“There are multitudes of unregenerate religionists [professing believers] who are taught, numbers of them well taught, in the letter of the Scriptures. They are thoroughly versed in the historical facts and doctrines of Christianity; but their instruction came only from human media—parents, Sunday School teachers, or through reading religious books. Their intellectual knowledge of spiritual things is considerable, sound, and clear; yet it is unaccompanied by any heavenly unction, saving power, or transforming effects….many of them are total strangers to a miracle of grace being wrought in the heart. How it behooves each of us to test ourselves rigidly at this point” A.W. Pink (ref#269 p103, brackets mine)!
Jonathan Edwards lends sobering words in his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God.” “Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation and flatters himself…that his schemes will not fail” Jonathan Edwards (ref#139, point 9 in second set of beginning points). “…whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes,…God is under no matter of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction” Jonathan Edwards (ref#139, point 10 in second set of points).
“It is not that he [the sinner] is averse from being saved from Hell—for none desire to go there—but that he is unwilling to “forsake” (Prov 28:13; Isa 55:7) his idols—the things which hold the first place in his affections and interests….the things of time and sense…” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p88-89, brackets mine).
“Man may change from error to truth, yet only in the head, not in the heart…morality is but nature at best….Sudden passion, or stirring of the affections. Many desire heaven, but will not come up to the price. King Herod heard John gladly; his affections were moved, but his sin was not removed” Thomas Watson (ref#48, “The Conuterfeits of the New Creature”).