This is a test that you must get 100% on. All the traits will be present in a Christian. But there will be varying degrees in the life of a believer. For example, all Christians have saving faith, but some will have strong faith while others weak faith. The greater these characteristics of a believer are seen in a their life, the greater will be their assurance. The less we see these qualities, the weaker will be our assurance.
1) Do I repent of my sins and trust in the finished work of Christ?
How a person deals with sin, reveals his true colors. We are born loving sin. We don't need to learn to sin since it comes naturally. Left to himself, man would hold on to his sin rather than let it go and gain eternal life. The natural man pursues sins and continues to live in sin. He doesn't hate it and see it for what it is; the most hateful and vile evil in all the universe. 1 John 3:8, "The one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning."
One of the first signs of new life in the soul is repentance. Repentance is a change in our attitude toward sin. It is much more than just saying sorry to God for your sins. It is more than just asking for forgiveness. With repentance there is a sorrow because we know that sins are an offence toward God. Sin doesn't seem lovely any more; it is seen as a disease, a poison, a pollutant, a rotting corpse. Then there will be confession of sin before God. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9. We cry out to God as the tax collector did, "God, be merciful to me, the sinner." Luke 18:13. Real repentance also involves a breaking away or turning from sin. We don't wallow in our sins like a pig in the mud. We make an effort to leave the mire. Christians may fall into the mud, but they won't stay there. "No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God" 1 John 3:9
Repentance starts at the beginning of the Christian's life and continues throughout his life. We never stop confessing our sins and repenting. When we come in repentance for the first time, we come before God as judge begging Him to forgive us and give us salvation. When we come in repentance during the rest of our life, we come to God as our Father whom we have wronged so there can be reconciliation and enjoyment of that relationship.
Faith always goes with repentance. Faith and repentance are as two wings which are both needed for the bird to fly. Both faith and repentance are needed for salvation. A Christian trusts or rests on the finished work of Christ. He knows he is bankrupt of righteousness. He knows he can do nothing to save himself. He believes that only Christ can save him. A Christian is convinced that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true and that he can only be saved by coming to Christ in faith.
"Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God," 1 John 5:1.
"The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given concerning His Son." 1 John 5:10.
"That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Rom 10:9.
As with repentance, living by faith continues our whole lives. The just are saved by faith and the just continue by faith. A true Christian continues his whole life trusting Christ. Consider the lives of the saints in Hebrew 11. They did great deeds by faith. They courageously suffered and died by faith. They sailed through trouble and trials trusting in the unseen God who loved them. "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith." 1 John 5:4.
2) Is there a general pattern of obedience to God in my life?
In many of these characteristics of a Christian there is some overlap. Obedience is the result of repentance and faith.
Jesus said in John 14:15 "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments."
and then later in verses 23-24 "If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word; and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our abode with him. He who does not love me , does not keep my words;"
1 John 3:10 states it very plainly, "By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God,"
or consider 1 John 2:29 , "If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him."
I could go on; there are many similar verses in the Bible. A Christian will be obedient to God's commands. This doesn't mean Christians have to be perfect. No Christian will be perfect in this life. But when you look at your life, ask yourselves, "Is there a general pattern of obedience in my life?" "Do I delight to do God's will?" "Is there growth of obedience in my life?" The more obedient we are the greater our assurance of our salvation will be.
These first two characteristics of a Christian are foundational. You simply can't be a Christian if you never have repented of your sins and trusted Christ alone for salvation. There must be obedience to God's law in a Christian's life and that obedience must be increasing. A true Christian will find joy and will delight in God's commands. There will be a desire to repent. There will be joy in resting in Jesus alone. All these traits are products of a new heart that is given at salvation.
The next post will continue this test of a genuine Christian.