THE TRUE BELIEVER
I John 5:11-13
All true believers possess certain characteristics that set them apart from the rest of humanity? We could call these things that set us apart our birthmarks in the Lord. They appear when we are saved and they mark us as children of God. Every saved person has every one of the birthmarks of salvation.
Some people doubt whether it is possible to know for sure that one is saved. Well, the Bible tells us of some who knew: Job, Job 19:25; Paul, 2 Tim. 1:12. Since God is no respecter of persons, you may have that same assurance also. Why? Because God doesn’t change. If He tells us who we can do something then He gives us the resources to be able to do it.
I am writing this today to help someone understand for sure that you are saved and that you can know for sure that you are. 1:6; 5:13. As you read First John, it becomes clear that he is trying to help God’s people gain absolute assurance of their salvation. He uses the word “know” 39 times. John is trying to tell us that there are some things we can know. One of them is whether or not we are saved. I pray that as you read this and study this portion of scripture that you will have a greater understanding on this subject.
If you have struggled in this area, I want to help you get that matter settled once and for all this day. I want to share the birthmarks of the true believer with you this morning. Identifying the presence, or the lack, of these traits within our lives can help us understand where we stand in relation to God. If you have struggled in this area, there is no need to do so any longer. God can give you assurance, one way or the other, right now. Let’s look together at the mark of a believer.
I. 5:1 A SPIRITUAL CONVERSION
A. This verse tells us that the true believer is a person who “believes” that Jesus is the Christ. Belief is knowing something with the head, but it is also accepting that truth into the heart. Genuine belief, or saving faith, is coming to the place where one is trusting nothing else, or no one else, but Jesus Christ for salvation. There is no room for works, religion, good deeds, or anything else in the heart of the truly saved person. Knowing of Jesus is not enough for even the devil and his angels know of Jesus and believe He is who He says He is, but they will never have salvation. You, on the other hand can have it buy making Jesus your personal Savior for the rest of your life.
B. I cannot tell you whether you are saved or not. Only you know what you are trusting to get you to heaven. However we do have the promises of God in this matter: 1 John 5:12; John 5:24; John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9-13; Rom. 8:1; Rev. 22:17; Acts 2:21, and hundreds more besides! We also have this principle from Scripture: God is holy and cannot lie, Heb. 6:18. What He promises to do, He will do! Therefore, if you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior, according to the plan laid out in the Bible, then you are saved! You have His word on it!
C. So, that brings us to the place where some questions must be asked and answered.
1. Has there been a definite, clear moment in your life when you trusted Jesus Christ, and nothing else to save your soul?
2. When you had your “experience” was it according to the plan laid out in the Word of God? Namely:
A. Did you come to the place where you recognized and acknowledged your sins to God? (Rom. 3:23; 3:10) That is, have you ever been lost? Until you can see your sins and yourself as a sinner, you cannot be saved. This process is called conviction! It is the Holy Spirit drawing sinner unto Himself, John 6:44; John 16:7-11. Churches should be preaching 100% of the word of God. There should be no tickling of the ears and saying what people want to hear ever over what God says. I have seen many churches who compromise the word of God and make it seem that anyone can get to heaven all you have to do is be a good person. Sorry folks that is not God’s version of who will get to heaven. You must believe, repent, and have a personal relationship with the Lord. There should be absolutely no calling any sin outdated, or that times have changed so certain sins should be accepted. All sin is sin and you have to acknowledge your sins to Jesus and repent of them. Repent means you turn your direction and stop deliberately sinning. Oh, you will sin but when you do run to Jesus and repent and ask Him to help you, but don’t ever think that you can stay living day to day in the same sins and it is okay with God.
B. Did you recognize the horrible consequences of your sins? Namely, did you know that because of your sins, you were separated from God, Isa. 59:2; dead in those sins, Eph. 2:1, and because of your sins headed to an eternity in Hell, Rom. 6:23? This goes back to the knowledge of being lost before God. When we come to the Lord we must be willing to change direction and truly follow the Lord. He told us what sin was so that we would know what displeases Him and what we need to do to change our ways. God does not over look our un-repented heart for our sins. If we are a Christian then our life should begin to show it. Sins should break our heart like they break God’s heart when we do them. The point is when you sin then think on those things and repent and ask God to help you change whatever it is. Don’t remain in those sins.
C. Did you come to the place where you understood completely what Jesus did for you when He died on the cross and when He rose from the dead? Did you understand that when He died, He was dying in your place, shedding His blood for your sins, 2 Cor. 5:21; Rev. 1:5? Did you understand that when He arose from the dead, He did so to provide you with a new life? Did you go beyond just knowing these things in your head to believing them with all your being? We all can read or hear the truth of what God says, but it is our duty to God to place what we learn into our hearts and allow God’s truth to change us. If we hear the truth but it doesn’t mean anything to us and we go right on doing what is wrong then what did we really learn about what God says?
D. Did you cry out to God confessing yourself a sinner, acknowledging Jesus Christ and His shed blood as your only hope of forgiveness and salvation? Did you ask Him into your heart and life to be your personal Savior? Did you trust Him and nothing but Him to save your soul, Rom. 10:13? There are a lot of churches preaching untruths, half-truths, and out-and-out lies and if you don’t search the scriptures and just go by what that preacher says without checking it out then you are in the wrong as well. We are to search the scriptures so that we know if we are being deceived. If a church tells you, for instance, that now it is okay to be a homosexual and that law doesn’t apply today they are lying to you. That happens to be one of the lies that God calls an abomination. An abomination doesn’t go to being okay. It is not we don’t love those committing that sin, but we tell them the truth and they, themselves, must choose who they will serve and if they will change. We don’t save anyone and we can’t change anyone. They have to either accept God or not, and they have to be the one to change or not, but the church is lying to them if they tell them it is okay. Same with abortionâ¦yes, we love the person who did it, but it is not okay with God. They have to repent and change their ways and thinking. You love the sinner but hate the sin. It is the same with any sin. We are not to tell people that “any” sin is okay with God when His word says it is not. Tell the truth in the church at all times because whoever is in that pulpit better start doing it or their judgment will be worse. Pastors and teachers are to tell the truth even if what they tell is not popular. Who are they really trying to please? What is their motive to lie “possibly money, fame, greed, acceptance” , but it is the very truth that sets one free not lies and deceptions.
3. When this experience took place, was it crystal clear? I mean, when you look back now, is there a clearly defined moment in time when everything changed? Or, is the whole thing kind of fuzzy and unclear? The fact of the matter is this: when Jesus saves a soul, it isn’t a thing done in a corner. It is clear and dramatic. The circumstances surrounding the conversion may differ, but one thing remains the same, there will be a specific point in time that the redeemed person can point to and say. “Right there is when I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior and my life was forever transformed!” (Ill. The Gadarene Demoniac, Mark 5; Ill. Saul of Tarsus, Acts 9
D. Now, looking back, and in all honesty, how would you describe the event you are trusting to take you to Heaven? Was it clear and dramatic? Can you honestly say that you trusted Jesus and Him alone to save your soul? If so, then that is the Bible way. Or, would you have to admit that you really can’t remember ever being lost? You can’t remember confessing your sins and receiving Christ into your life. In fact, the whole event is unclear. Maybe you need to come right here and now and get that thing nailed down. There will be the mark of a genuine spiritual conversion.
I. A Spiritual Conversion
II. 1:6-7 A SPIRITUAL CHANGE
(Ill. These verses tell us that those who are saved have a desire to “walk in the light“. Jesus is the Light, John 8:12. Therefore, those who are saved will want to seek fellowship with Jesus. In other words, when they are converted, their whole life will change. This is a theme that runs through the whole book of First John. He tells us that the second mark of the true believer is a spiritual change in their lives. Let’s follow this thread through First John and see if we possess this mark of the new birth.)
A. 1:6-7 – There will be a desire for fellowship with the things of light. The person who is truly saved by grace will gravitate toward those things that have to do with the Lord. Things like the Bible, prayer, the church, the fellowship of the saints, etc, will all be precious and special to the person who has been saved. If you find that you are drawn toward things pertaining to darkness, you might need to check up on where you stand with Jesus. God allows us to choose who we will serve and if we are fully committed to Him. We want to hear from Him when we die “well done”â¦we don’t want to hear “I never knew you depart from me”. The choice is ours and no one can accept Jesus for us. If they could there would be millions more saved. It is your choice who you will serve and if you are just a fence post Christian or a true committed Christian. A Church post fence Christian is a Luke warm Christian and Jesus will spit you out. That is the truth. You can’t be a Christian when you feel like it and live in the world at the same time. You must make a choice. A non choiceâ¦is a choice by the way. Don’t put your choice for Jesus off because one second after death is one second too late and you are not promised even five minutes from now. Right now make a choice in who you will serve. God will honor your choice either way but you will have blessings and eternal life, or curses and eternal punishment. The choice should be obvious but millions will still choose the world over God. That is not His desire for you but only you can make this decision.
B. 2:3-6 – There will be a desire within the true believer to do the things God commands us to do, and to avoid the things God commands us not to do. Genuine salvation is proven by a desire to obey God! According to verse 6, the genuinely saved person will want to walk just like Jesus! Our life should begin to look like Jesus.
C. 2:29 – There will be such a change in the believers life that they will naturally begin to do the things that mark them as righteous. They will live out the new life that was placed within them when they were saved by the grace of God.
D. 3:6-10; 5:18 – The true believer cannot continue to live a life of sin. According to these verses, the genuinely converted person will be unable to live a lifestyle of unrepentant sin. When John tells us that those who are saved do not sin, he is not teaching sinless perfection. As we know, all people, even Christians sin, 1 John 1:8-10. However, when we come to faith in Jesus, there is a new dynamic that takes place within our lives. When the genuinely converted person sins, there is an immediate sense of wrong. The believer will understand that they have damaged their fellowship with God and will not have peace in their life until they make it right with God. The only way for a believer to handle sin is for them to confess it and get it out into the light.
Those believers who do sin are miserable until they repent, and they are brought under the chastisement of God, Heb. 12:6-11. The whole point is this: if you can sin and never be bothered by it, then you probably aren’t saved. If you can sin and not suffer chastisement, then you probably aren’t saved. If you can sin and enjoy it, then you probably aren’t saved. If you are able to live with sin in your life every day, and not feel an ache in your heart for restored fellowship with God ,the I would suggest to you that you should come to Jesus today and be born again. Don’t put off the free gift of salvation. But know this that being a Christian does not mean that you will be rich and famous and never have troubles as some teach it. God’s word says that in this life you would have tribulations, tests, and trials. But even with those things you can run the race of life well in any circumstances and find that at the end of your life on earth it is only the beginning of eternal life with God. You can win! You truly can win your race. Don’t give up. Don’t give up when times are tough or you suffer. What we face on this earth is but for a season and it will end. We can do what God says we can do, and we can make it through all things when Jesus is our Lord and Savior and we have a personal relationship with Him. Stand on the Rock and believe and whatever comes your way you will make it through. He will walk through it with you. I say that because some believe they all of a sudden have a magic genie or a sugar daddy that will do whatever for themâ¦but the truth is in this world we will suffer, have tribulations and things won’t always go the way we planned itâ¦.but we will make it. We will make it if we endure our race until the end.
Now, don’t misunderstand me, saved people do sin! However, they will not enjoy it like they did before they were saved if they are a real Christian! And, when they sin, they will never get away with it! God will deal with them in love, Rev. 3:19, but if they will not repent, then He will deal with them in judgment, 1 Cor. 5:5; 1 John 5:16.
E. 4:6 – Another clear mark of genuine conversion is that the saved person will receive the Word of God when it is preached and when it is read. It will not be something to doubt, debate or get angry over. The saved person will hear the voice of the Lord through His Word and will respond to it accordingly. Jesus said that this would be a characteristic of His sheep, John 10:27. The desire to hear the Word of God; the ability to understand the Word of God; and the desire to do what God says in His Word are all indicators of spiritual life, 1 Cor. 2:14. They will also know when someone is trying to deceive them because they are searching the scriptures to know what is true or not.
F. When Jesus saves a life, He literally changes that person from the inside out. They are a brand new creature, 2 Cor. 5:17; Col. 3:1-17. They can never be the same, neither will they want to be anymore.
G. Has there been a definite change in your life?
H. Now, some people who hear this were saved at a young age. They were saved before they ever had the chance to go off into vile sin. They may feel that their testimony is lacking something. Let me just say, you have the best testimony of all! However, you can gage your life by the same measuring stick. While you might not be able to say that God brought you out of gross, black sin, you can say that He has worked in your life so that there is no desire within you for the things of the world or the works of darkness. If the natural, fleshly desires manifested by a lost world are absent in your life, that is a good thing, and that is a cause for you to have assurance before the Lord.
So, has there been a definite, spiritual conversion and a definite, spiritual change in your life?
I. A Spiritual Conversion
II. A Spiritual Change
III. 2:9-11 A SPIRITUAL CHARITY
(Ill. A third mark in the true believer’s life is that there will be a genuine love for other believers. It will be a love that is unexplainable. It will be a love that is, at times, stronger than love felt for those of one’s natural family. This is a concept mentioned numerous times within the Bible
A. Let’s notice all the times John refers to this truth in his book: 2:9-11; 3:14-15; 4:7-8; 4:11-12; 4:20-21. If you are saved, this special, spiritual manifestation of the love of God through your life for other believers will be a reality!
B. How will this love manifest itself? There are several ways in which true, Christlike love will be seen in the life of the genuine believer.
1. In a desire to fellowship and worship with other believers – Heb. 10:25. Church is the place most go do this, but it can be at home, at and elderly center, in the park, or wherever. It is when people come together to love on the Lord together. For hundreds of years people met in each others’ homes, by the river side or wherever. It is not a building that makes the church. It is Jesus that does. What is important is that you fellowship with other Christians so you can help keep each other encouraged and in the truth.
2. In a concern over the welfare of others in the family of God – 1 Cor. 12:26; Phil. 2:3-4; Gal. 6:2; Rom. 12:15.
3. There will be concern when we have offended a brother in Christ – Rom. 14:19-22; 1 Cor. 8:9-13.
4. There will be a desire for reconciliation when there is a breech in the body of Christ – Eph. 4:26-32; Matt. 5:23-24; Matt. 18:21-35; Luke 17:3-5.
C. There is more that could be said about this matter, but I think the implications are clear. If we are genuinely saved, there will an unexplainable desire to be with and to love our fellow believers.
I. A Spiritual Conversion
II. A Spiritual Change
III. A Spiritual Charity
IV. 4:13 A SPIRITUAL COMPANION
(Ill. Where do you stand thus far? Do you have the mark of genuine conversion? All of the above are easy to understand and can be clearly seen by everyone as we look at our own lives. The final one I want to share, however, is not so easily discerned. It is this matter that we are more prone to satanic and fleshly deception. I am referring to the matter of inner peace. I am referring to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.)
A. When a person has been genuinely saved, there will be the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, Rom. 8:16. The Holy Spirit moved into our hearts at the instant of conversion, Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 12:13. His job in us is to seal us, Eph. 4:30; lead us, John 16:13; and to give us assurance of our salvation; Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:5. The presence of the Spirit of God in our lives is proof positive that we belong to the Lord!
B. This is a mysterious thing, but it is absolutely essential for the assurance of one’s salvation. When the Spirit of God is present in your life, He will speak to your heart. He will tell you things. He will guide you. He will warn you. He will lead you. He will feed you. He will comfort you. He will teach you the truth. He will rise up within your heart and confirm the reality of your adoption into the family of God, ***Rom. 5:5***. Like a mother who wraps her arms around that insecure child everyday and expresses her undying love, the Spirit of God does the same things for the redeemed child of the Lord.
(Ill. To put it simply, when you get saved, there is a spiritual instinct placed within you. You immediately begin to desire those things that pertain to God, His Word, His work and His worship. This will not be a passing thing, but it will endure throughout life because of the presence of the Spirit in your heart.)
C. If there is no peace; if there is no assurance; if there is not communion of the Spirit of God with your spirit, then it may be that He is not there. It may be that you need to be saved. If the Spirit of God never speaks to your heart, then you need to examine yourself. It may be that you have never really been saved! This can also be caused by unconfessed sin in the life of the believer. When we are walking in the light, the Spirit of the Lord will bear witness within us that we are in the family!
D. Someone may say, “Preacher, I don’t know if the Spirit is there or not.” Let me say to you, if He is there, you will know it! How? There will be no question when He is in your life! There will be times when He will get so big that His presence is crystal. At other times, His presence will be indicated by subtle things like an inner desire for prayer, for the Word of God, to tell a lost person about Jesus, etc. He will make His presence known and He will give you assurance of your salvation! The presence of the Holy Ghost in your life is proof that you belong to God!
I know I have covered a lot of territory here. But, I felt lead of the Lord to preach this message. Why? Because there are people who are not sure where they stand with God. There are others who know they are not saved. My friends, if you lack even one of the marks of the true believer this morning, then this message was sent this way for your benefit. It’s all or nothing! You need to leave the seat where you are sitting and you need to come to Jesus and get this thing settled right now and forever. If the Lord is speaking to your heat you need to come to Him! If you are in doubt you need to come. If you are convinced that you are lost, you need to come. Will you listen to the call of God and come to Him for salvation today? Or, will you continue to live in doubt and fear? God can help you if you will come to Him right now.
You can know! God wants you to know! And, the first step in your coming to know for sure is for your to make our way to Him right now!
Pray this prayer:
Lord Jesus, I ask you into my heart today. I want you to be my Lord and Savior and I know my sins have been wrong and I repent of all my sins. My sins have kept me from your presence. I accept you as My Lord and Savior and give you my life today. Live in me and show me the way.
Welcome to the family of God!
Now tell someone that you are a Christian. God bless you!