The most pressing question today is not whether you claim to be a Christian. The majority in the United States say they are. It is not whether you go to church, read your Bible, or participate in charity. It is this, “Does Jesus Christ dwell in you?” It is not a question of whether you asked Him to come into your heart. That’s unBiblical non-sense. It is whether your life reflects a true and living faith. Paul wrote to the Corinthians:
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
(2 Corinthians 13:5)
This call to self-examination is probably one of the most important calls for today’s church in America. There are so many people who profess to be believers today, but who are wholly devoid of any fruit that proves they have repented and trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord. These people are on their way to hell.
What a terrible state to live in! The worst thing about being deceived is that you don’t know it. Many are deceived in this day. They think they can walk, talk, and think like the world, while going to church on Sunday, and that God will be all good with that. He’s their homeboy. The big man upstairs.
The sheer irreverence in our culture for a holy and just God is beyond comprehension. If those who are playing games with this “buddy god” could meet the real one for a moment they would fall down trembling in terror. They would know what the Bible means by the “fear of the Lord.”
Paul tells the Corinthians to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith. They will know this by one overriding factor: that Jesus Christ lives in them. But how do they know this? How does someone know when they have passed from death to life? Below I’ll give 5 signs of those who have truly been born of God.
1. They love Jesus Christ.
There is no greater sign of a true Christian than a real and genuine love for Jesus. Not for worship. Not for Bible study. Not for church activities. Jesus. You can tell a love for Jesus by how His name captures someone’s attention. How speaking of Him and His truth becomes all-consuming in someone’s life. He is their first love. The one who set them free from sin and death, their Lord and Savior. Nothing compares to Him in their life. He is everything.
2. They want to know God’s Word.
Peter tells his readers in his first epistle:
Like newborn infants, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow up into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. (1 Peter 2:2-3)
Like Paul, Peter puts a condition on his statement. If indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good. If you haven’t then you won’t desire the pure milk of the word and you won’t grow. So often pastors and preachers are trying to get people to mature in Christ who haven’t even first tasted of the Lord and His sweet salvation. They have no hunger for the word because they were never born by the Spirit.
The true believer is zealous for the truth. They will devour it, ponder it, and defend it to their dying breath. They want to know everything God has to say to them, because He has become their entire world. Nothing else matters to them than to know Him. And they realize that they know Him by studying His perfect Word.
3. They have a reverence for God.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. But today’s churches don’t know the first thing about reverence or awe. There is no fear of God and His judgement. Most of the time it’s because they don’t believe in His judgement. They hide by saying that they are under grace and can live without fear, but God is not mocked (as Paul writes in the New Testament), what we sow is what we reap. If we sow to our sinful flesh then we will reap corruption (Gal. 6:8-9). A true Christian has a reverent fear of God and His discipline. They know that they are loved by a good heavenly Father, but they also know that God is a holy God.
And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. (1 Peter 1:17)
4. They hate sin.
Sin for the believer isn’t a small matter. When someone has been born again they weep over the sins that they commit. A true Christian is known by their repentance. A continual life of repentance (Rev. 2&3, 2 Cor. 12:21). The moment they know that they have committed a sin, they are quick to ask God’s forgiveness, and the forgiveness of all involved. This is tied to their love for Christ as well as their fear of God. Out of love the believer does not wish to participate in things that nailed their Lord to the cross. The fear of God works in them a hatred of every form of evil (Prov. 8:13). They do not make excuses. They do not ignore what has happened. They feel the weight of relational separation between them and God. Though God has not abandoned them, in many ways their sin causes a rift in the relationship. The sweetness of communion leaves. The love they once had starts to become cold, and they fight to regain that place of faith and love.
That we hate sin does not mean that we never fall into it. The most mature and Spirit-filled believer commits sin everyday. But their response is what makes all the difference. They do not make justifications for their sin or hide behind grace, they confess it and go into prayer before God. And He, as the loving Father He is, restores them and comforts them.
5. They live lives of obedience to Christ and His Word.
Jesus told his first disciples that they would be known by their love for one another. This was His command. That we love each other. The Bible is filled with many other instructions on how to walk, talk, and think. The person who has tasted that the Lord is good, wants to live their entire life for Christ. They want to act on His Word and be pleasing to Him. As John wrote:
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments. Because this is love for God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:2-3)
For the Christian, love for Jesus, the Father, and the Spirit means that they want to obey God’s commandments. They are not a burden because the believer has tasted the goodness of the Lord, they have been given a new heart and new spirit; they have been filled with the Holy Spirit and so they desire and are able to do good deeds.
Of course a list like this is never exhaustive. But this will suffice for now. I hope that by reading this you are challenged. Challenged to examine yourselves. To test whether you are in the faith. Whether you really have trusted in Christ and yielded to Him as Lord. You can’t have Him as Savior only. You must have Him as Lord and Savior. You can’t have Jesus Christ and your sins. Not even a small one. You must repent. You have to lay it all at the feet of Jesus and say, “I am Yours, save me.” And my dear friend, He will do just that.
You will enter into a life that is unlike anything you’ve ever known. A life filled with righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. A life that has persecution, misunderstanding, and loss. A life that brings glory to the only One who truly matters, by whom and for whom all things were created, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.