This will be one of my shortest blogs ever, but hopefully one of the most profound for every Christian.
For decades, I’ve met with people who believe they are Christians, often because they believe the gospel message, read the Bible and attend church. However, some have doubts because they sense something is missing in their lives. So they’ll occasionally ask, “How can I know for sure if I’m saved?” They want assurance of their salvation and every serious Christian I know has asked that question at least one time in their life. But my answer usually surprises them.
“Are you pursuing holiness?”
The correct theological answer to this person’s original question is, “Every truly born again believer is not only saved, but made holy by the Holy Spirit.” But what we really want to know is this; How can one “know” they are truly born-again and have been made holy? The Bible says when we begin to pursue virtuous living with a passion. To be honest that’s still a roller coaster in my personal life. Some days are better than others.
The pursuit of virtue is different than what Dallas Willard once called, sin management, just keeping a lid on my sin. Not sinning takes work and willpower. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 Likewise, pursuing holiness takes work and willpower. It’s in the very pursuit of goodness, kindness, generosity, love and the other fruits of the Spirit that the Holy Spirit often confirms our salvation.
The following verse is often used to “prove” or claim salvation or eternal security by many Christians. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:13 “There you have it, God’s promise to me.”
But the promise of assurance is conditional. Before anyone can claim that “promise“ you have to first take the time to read all of 1 John that precedes it to have a proper understanding of the conditions for the promise. They are not the conditions for salvation, but the conditions for assurance of that salvation- the “I write these things to you…” promise verse. What things? Everything in the first five chapters of I John are the conditions for claiming the promise. Please take the time today to read those five important chapters. It describes the life of a truly born-again person. John is making it as clear as he knows how that while we are not saved by virtuous living, virtuous living is the best evidence of our salvation “so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
After a teaching I once did on this topic for our elders, one of them asked, “Do you believe in the doctrine of eternal security?” “I do,” I said. “But I just think more people claim to have it and won’t know any better until they wake up in Hell.”
“True Christians pursue virtuous living with the same passion the world pursues wealth and fame. Any Christian who does not, shouldn’t sleep well at night.” – Law