From Craig Swanson…
You Will Be Graded On This Test
In my last blog (Saving Faith) I discussed what differentiates saving faith and non-saving faith. Now I want to explore how to determine if your faith is a saving faith. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail the test?” How do we examine ourselves? What is the test? The basis of the test is – has there been a fundamental change in your life? 2 Cor. 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Have I Been Changed?
James asks in James 2:14, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” He isn’t suggesting that works plays any part in salvation – we are saved by faith apart from works. (Romans 3:28) What he is saying is that a person who is truly saved will have a changed lifestyle that will reflect it. Titus 1:16 says, “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.”
Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (John 14:15) 1 John 3:9-10 says, “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. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.” Notice in (v.9) that no one who is born of God practices sin – it is not his lifestyle. It goes on to say that he cannot sin. That is the same Greek word used before translated practice sin. In other words a true believer can’t have a lifestyle of sin because they’ve been changed. The Holy Spirit is abiding in them. They will still sin, but with less frequency – less willful sin. By willful sin I mean a conscious decision to disobey. In other words, “I know Jesus wouldn’t want me to do this but I’m going to anyway.”
I believe that our churches are full of people, who profess to know God – they prayed the prayer, attend church regularly, maybe even serve in some ministry – but they do not have eternal life. They’ve added Jesus to their life because of how it would benefit them. They are on the same broad road to hell as the rest of the world, all the while thinking they are safe. As an elder and a shepherd it concerns me greatly.
Am I Missing Something?
So let’s say that as you examine your life, you seem to be a little too comfortable with sin. There are areas of your life that you do practice sin and you don’t sense the Holy Spirit’s finger in your chest. If so, you should be asking yourself, “Am I really a follower of Christ? Have I been born again? Have I passed from darkness to light? Am I a new creation? And if not, what am I missing?”
Here is what I believe most people who profess Christ, (but who aren’t saved), are missing – a heart that is broken over their sin, that leads to repentance. They know that they have sinned and that God judges sin, but to them it’s not that big of a deal compared to that other person’s sin. Here’s an example – a father catches his son stealing something from a store. He makes his son go to store owner and confess his crime and say he is sorry. Is he sorry he did it, or sorry he got caught? The answer to that question is the difference between a repentant heart and a non-repentant heart. John MacArthur put it this way, “If you didn’t come to Jesus Christ shattered over your sinfulness and hungering and thirsting after righteousness, you are not a Christian.”
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith.” Do it today. If you have any questions, I’d be glad to sit down and talk with you.