Do You Ever Question Your (or Someone Else's) Salvation?
- Thursday, March 27, 2014
Can that person really be saved?
Can she really be a Christian and continue in sin like that?
On second thought, how do I know if I am really saved, too?
We all know of people - and relatives - who claim to be followers of Christ but don't seem to live it. And you're not alone if you have ever questioned your own salvation, too, especially in light of repeated sin in your life.
A woman recently asked me "How could a Christian continue to abuse?" She listed a long history of abusive behavior from her ex-husband and his family and waited on me for an answer. But I believe the question that needed to be asked - and answered - is "What defines a 'Christian'?"
Any of us can claim to be a Christian. And any of us can claim to believe and receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. But a true Christian is a follower of Christ, one who possesses his indwelling holy Spirit, and whose life produces evidence of the Holy Spirit. The Bible is very clear about our lives producing evidence of our salvation through:
The "fruit" we bear. In John 15, we read Jesus' words that "if a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." Jesus also pointed out that no fruit usually meant no "abiding in him." The Apostle Paul defined this fruit in Galatians 5:22-23 as godly characteristics that are evidence of the Holy Spirit's control of our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self control.
The love we show to others. God's definition of love is given in 1st Corinthians 13:4-7. Jesus said "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you....You are my friends if you do what I command" (John 15:12-14).
- Our obedience to God's Word. And the Apostle John said "The man who says, 'I know him, but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did'" (1st John 2:4-6).
So...can a Christian continue to abuse? We all, at times, act according to our old nature (our sinful lives apart from Christ) when we are not living under the daily control of God's Holy Spirit. But with Christ's Spirit in us, we have the power to overcome temptation and strongholds of the flesh and live according to God's Spirit, not our fleshly desires.
There's a reason the Apostle Paul told the Philippians to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12). He didn't mean "work FOR your salvation" as none of us can do that, according to Ephesians 2:8-9, which tells us we are saved by God's grace and through our faith in Christ alone. I do believe that Paul meant we should constantly evaluate our hearts and lives before God to determine if we really are Christ-followers. These questions may help you determine if you (or someone else) really is a follower of Christ:
Do I experience a conviction by God's Holy Spirit when I sin, causing me to repent and turn away from that sin? If there is no conviction of sin, perhaps His spirit is NOT living in you. 1st John 3:6 says "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him."
- Am I displaying love as Christ does? Another way to ask this is: Is there true evidence of my salvation in how I live and treat others? Scripture says: "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemns us..." (1 John 3:18-20).
How do we know if someone is really a Christian? We don't. We have only their lives to hold up to the life of the One (Jesus) whom they claim to follow. So, be a follower of his through a life of obedience and love. And that way you - and others - will not question whether you and I are really Christ-followers, too.
Cindi McMenamin is a national women's conference and retreat speaker and the author of a dozen books, including When Women Walk Alone (more than 120,000 copies sold), Women on the Edge, and her newest, God's Whispers to a Woman's Heart. For more on her books and ministry, or for free resources to strengthen your soul, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com.
Publication date: March 27, 2014
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