THE BIRTHMARKS OF A BELIEVER:
1. The Commandment Test
1 John 2:3-6 says, "Now BY THIS WE KNOW THAT WE KNOW HIM, IF WE KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS.
4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5 But whoever KEEPS His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (NKJV).
John doesn't beat around the bush here. He says in effect, "Don't tell me you're saved if you could care less about the commandments of God". Let's be clear, we are not saved by commandment keeping, but we will endeavor to keep God's commandments when we are saved.
I don't know about you, but I can think of a few times (quite a few!) when I have not kept God's commandments. It's important that we understand what John is talking about when he uses the word "keep". It comes from the Greek word "tereo" and means "to watch over". It was used in ancient times by sailors. They did not have global positioning devices or radio signals to guide them back then so they sailed by the stars. They kept their eyes on the heavens, and they called that "keeping the stars". When we keep God's commandments, we steer our lives by them. That does not speak of sinless perfection because no one is perfect except Jesus Christ. But it does mean that our heart's desire is to keep the Word of God. We may drift off course every now and then, but when we look up to heaven and look into God's Word to check our bearings, we then correct our course.
Before I was saved, I was running to sin. Since I've been saved, I am running from it. I may fall, I may slip, I may fail, but my heart's desire is to live for God.
John is saying, "If you call yourself a Christian and you are not steering by God's commandments, and if you are living a habitually sinful life with no conviction, no contrition, no unsettledness, and no chastening from God, then don't call yourself a Christian because you're not."
An appropriate question for you is this, "Do you lapse into sin and loath it or leap into sin and love it?"
2. The Companion Test
1 John 3:14-15 says, "WE KNOW THAT WE HAVE PASSED FROM DEATH TO LIFE, BECAUSE WE LOVE THE BRETHREN. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" (NKJV).
When we are born again, we are born of God. We now have a new nature, and it is God's nature. God is now our Father and we have a "faith family" of brothers and sisters in Christ. To be God's child is to share in God's nature and God is love. We don't need a bumper sticker or a lapel pin to prove that we are Christians. Jesus said, "By this will all men know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another" (John 13:35 NASB). If we love God and His love is in us, then we are going to love what he loves, which is His dear family – the church.
For someone to say that he loves Jesus but hates his church would be ridiculous! That would be like someone saying to me, "I love you, but I hate your wife" or "I love you, but hate your children." To neglect the church is to neglect Jesus; to love the church is to love Jesus.
3. The Confidence Test
1 John 5:10 says, "HE WHO BELIEVES IN THE SON OF GOD HAS THE WITNESS IN HIMSELF; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son" (NKJV).
Biblical belief (confidence) is not just an intellectual exercise. You do not believe about Jesus; you believe in Jesus. You can believe an airplane can fly, but you trust in it when you get on board. Notice also that this verse is in the present tense. It doesn't say, "He who HAS believed"; it says, "He who believes". Our confidence in Christ is always in the present tense. Sometimes the question is asked, "Are you saved?" The answer comes, "Yes I am. I remember walking down the aisle when I was nine years old, giving my hand to my pastor and my heart to Jesus. I may not be living for God right now. I'll admit that. But I know I'm saved because I remember believing on Jesus Christ."
The Bible never uses such an experience as proof of salvation. It never points us back to some time when we have believed on Jesus Christ. It always deals with present confidence. If you ARE BELIEVING, you have believed. So, the question is, "Are you believing in Jesus right now?" The real test of your testimony is not whether you remember a time and place but that you are putting your trust in the Lord Jesus right now.
The story is told of Will Rogers who one time went to get a passport, and the official said, "We need your birth certificate." And he said, "What for?" They said, "For proof of your birth." He said, "Well I'm here ain't I? If you are trusting in Jesus – present tense –, you are saved.
The witness of God's Spirit and the witness of God's Word should give you a quiet confidence that you belong to Christ. Paul wrote in Romans 8:16, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God", and Jesus Himself said in John 5:24 "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (NKJV).
Does your life bear the birthmarks of a believer or are you willfully wicked? Heed the warning; examine yourselves to see if you are indeed in the faith. If so, don't waver in your faith, and continue working for the kingdom of Jesus Christ!