Dec 30, 2019 08:00am
How Do I Know I’m Really a Christian?

I’ve lost count of people who’ve come into my office asking, “How do I know I’m a Christian? Like, really know?”

No doubt this is a sensitive, reflective, often scary question to ask (and attempt to answer in 600 words!). But God isn’t eager for us to fret over our salvation, pacing around in fear. He’s given us himself, the Holy Spirit.

Jesus taught that every tree is known by his own fruit (Luke 6:44). Solely by the fruit of one’s life can the Holy Spirit’s presence be tested. The following are some clear indicators. Use them to bolster your confidence that God himself dwells in you! Or use them in prayer for God to reap more fruit in a certain area. Or, discover for yourself that, actually, you aren’t a believer – then give yourself to Christ!

1) There is a deep conviction of sin, and true repentance for that sin (John 16:8)

When the Holy Spirit enters into a human, he both reveals the exceeding greatness of God and the exceeding corruption of human nature to the believer. Both. And somewhere in the gap, the believer’s heart is filled with sorrow, contrition, and a white-hot hatred for their own sin. Every pang of guilt, sense of separation from God, and affection for Jesus is from the Spirit.

2) There is a lively faith in Jesus, the Savior (John 16:15).

Down there in the trenches of repentance, the Holy Spirit lifts the chins of believers and prods them to look at Jesus. He leads the soul, which feels its sin to Jesus and the atonement provided by the cross. Essentially, the Spirit-inhabited believer receives Jesus’ pardon, peace, and eternal life – and presses on, stumbling in grace to the finish line. He reveals the fullness of our sin and the fullness of Jesus’ salvation.

3) There is a holy life (1 Peter 1:2).

The Holy Spirit’s first name is . . . well, “Holy.” He is the spirit of holiness (Romans 1:4). This means the believer is set apart, distinct, and different from the world and the flesh-dominating life that non-Christians live. The Holy Spirit takes away our worldly, calloused hearts, and replaces them with a tender, spiritual heart that learns to delight in God. The believer’s greatest desire is pleasing the Father, which demands turning the back on fashions of the world. 

And even though sin continues to plague every believer, it’s a constant returning to #1 and #2!

4) There is an awareness of desperation before the Lord (Zephaniah 12:10)

Our self-sufficiency gets crippled when God is near. He opens our eyes to see how desperate we really are. He is the Spirit of grace and supplication, instructing us to bring all requests before God. So true, mature believers are quick to cry out to their Daddy, no matter how feeble, faltering, and weak their cry might be.

5) There is a love and reverence for God’s Word (1 Peter 2:2; Psalm 1:2)

Hyper-invested in the writing of Scripture (2 Peter 1:21), the Spirit leads all believers to a 2 Timothy 3:16-17 understanding of God’s Word: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 

He reveals the fullness, depth, wisdom, and sufficiency of Scripture, accessed only through the Holy Spirit, which is normally hidden from a non-Christian’s eyes. He is the “spirit of truth” (John 14:17), defending, loving, and teaching truth.

Examining everything

In light of these “indicators,” let us always examine ourselves. And to have no fear in doing so! What do we have to lose? As Bishop Hopkins (1792-1868) said, “It is a good sign of grace when a man is willing to search and examine himself, whether he be gracious or not. There is a certain instinct in a child of God, whereby he naturally desires to have the title of his legitimation tried; whereas a hypocrite dreads nothing more than to have his rottenness searched into.” 

The Holy Spirit within us is the common mark of true followers of Jesus. It is the shepherd’s mark on the flock, the fruit, distinguishing us from the rest of the world. The King’s seal is upon us, proving us to be His property. It is how we answer, “How do I KNOW I’m a Christian?” And we wouldn’t have it any other way. If, however, you’ve concluded you do not have God – posture yourself where he is, in Scripture. Ask for Jesus to meet you there. He will.

Copyright © 2019 by Justin Talbert @ . Used with permission. 
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