- Examine Yourselves, Prove Your Own Selves – This is a very important question that we should all seriously consider, “How Can I KNOW If God Has Saved Me?”. This question gets to the essence of what life is all about. God tells us everything we need to know with regard to His salvation plan for mankind in His Book, the Bible, and God explains that assurance of our salvation is indeed possible as 1 John 5:11-13 explains. We must realize that God does ALL the work of salvation. The Bible teaches that we cannot save ourselves. No church, no religious ritual, no person, and no human effort can save us. Only the work done by the Lord Jesus Christ at the cross and by the Holy Spirit in our hearts can save us. Believing, or having “faith”, in the Lord Jesus Christ is the result of salvation – not the cause of it. Rom 5:10 declares that if God has saved you, your spiritual war with God has ended: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life”. In other words: If God has saved you from Hell, the Lord Jesus Christ paid for ALL of your sins with His life so that you now have eternal life, and you made no contribution to your salvation in any way, as Tit 3:4-7 declares. However, if God does not save you before you die or the Lord Jesus Christ returns in judgment, you will face eternal damnation in Hell under the wrath of God as a payment for your own sins. If God has already saved you from eternal damnation, He has put His Spirit within you and resurrected your soul (that is, you became a new creature in Christ); as God stated in the verses Eze 36:26-27 and 2 Cor 5:17. In 2 Cor 13:5 and 2 Pet 1:10, God commands us to evaluate our spiritual condition to determine if we truly have received the gift of eternal life based on what the Bible teaches about salvation. In this third part of the study we will ask ourselves several questions based on the biblical evidences of salvation to help us “examine” the state of our souls. May God cause each of us to seriously examine our self in the light of His Word to discover whether we are indeed a child of God or not. If we are not (or are not sure), wonderfully today is still the day of salvation; and we can cry out to God for mercy, read His Word, and wait (trusting altogether) on Him.
1 John 5:11-13 “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
Tit 3:4-7 “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
Eze 36:26-27 “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
2 Cor 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
2 Pet 1:10 “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”
- Does the Holy Spirit give you Assurance that you are Born of God? – One day we might “feel” saved; the next day, as a result of some sin, we don’t. We have to put our feelings aside, and only trust in what the Bible proclaims. An authentic Christian’s trust, hope, confidence, and faith needs to be firmly established in what God has written in His Word. Is it possible to know that one is a child of God from the Bible? By God’s mercy, the answer is yes, as 1 John 5:12-13 affirms that believers can “know” they have eternal life: “These things have I written [in God’s Word] unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life …”. What is really in view in these Scriptures is the fact that believers receive assurance of their salvation from the Bible – the written Word of God – and the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit is yet another evidence of salvation. 1 John 4:13 reveals, “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit”. And Rom 8:9 affirms that one is NOT a child of God without the indwelling Spirit of God: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”. Now, to summarize what we have learned today: First, the Holy Spirit is given to the believer as the “earnest” (or down payment) of his salvation. Secondly, we are not to trust our feelings at all; we must lean altogether on what the Bible sets forth. At times, however, our hearts can work against us, as 1 John 3:18-22 indicates: “For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God”; but even when that happens, we must rest altogether in the work and faith of the Lord Jesus. Eph 3:12 testifies that a believer have boldness or confidence in the day of judgement, not because of his doings but because of what Lord has done for him on the cross: “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him”. The fact that our own hearts “condemn”, or blame, us does not necessarily signify that we are unsaved. On the contrary, it appears that as a Christian matures in grace, he is increasingly mindful of his own unworthiness and sinfulness: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Tim 1:15) . At the same time, he is increasingly aware of God’s unfathomable grace, as Rom 5:20b so powerfully insists, “… But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound”. A true Christian’s heart can either serve to condemn or absolve him, as he obeys God’s Word or fails the various “tests” that God employs to determine his spiritual condition. The Scripture testifies that God is indeed “greater than our heart, and knoweth all things”. Ultimately, a believer desires to be obedient to his Master above all else, as God works in him “to will and to do of His good pleasure”.
Rom 8:16 “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:”
John 1:12-13 “But as many as received him [as in recipients], to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
1 John 3:18-22 “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.”
- Are the “Works of the Flesh” Diminishing in your life? – Are you continuing to turn from your sins? and leading a Godly Life? Are you finding that the pleasures of this world do not interest you as much as they did in the past? In Rom 8:13 we find these words, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die”. Mat 26:41 adds, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”. From even a casual reading of the Bible, we are brought face to face with not only our innate weaknesses and inadequacies but, more importantly, with our sins that are sending us pell-mell to eternal damnation. This is the accurately painful description that Eph 2:3 paints: “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others”. The word “conversation” means “lifestyle”. What is the lifestyle of someone who is NOT saved? Gal 5:19-21 itemizes the works of the flesh and warns: “… of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”. On the other hand, 2 Cor 5:17 describes a born-again believers new nature: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”. At this point in our discussion, I think it would be helpful to remind ourselves of each believer’s dual nature. Quite possibly the tendency to emphasize one aspect more than the other can shape how we look at ourselves in terms of possessing or lacking assurance of salvation. Let us consider each “side” of a Christian’s whole personality. Even after a person is redeemed he struggles with sin because his body still remains unsaved, even though in his soul he has received eternal life. This is clearly seen in a number of verses like Rom 7:20, “Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me”. The apostle Paul, under divine inspiration, reveals in Rom 7:25 the Scriptural assessment that a child of God must constantly keep in mind, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin”. But Gal 5:16-18 and verses 24-25 further add: “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh [our bodies]… And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit”. This internal dualism is the true Christian’s greatest spiritual struggle, bar none, as Rom 7:24 pinpoints, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” The deliverance that Paul refers to is found in the words of 2 Cor 5:1-4, which expresses the believer’s yearning to be forever clothed with his glorified spiritual body. 1 John 3:1-3 highlights this as well, adding the dimension of hope with regard to glorification, which is the final stage of salvation.
1 John 2:15-17 “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
Rom 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
Gal 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Rom 7:21-25 “I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man [or the soul]: 23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members [or my body]. 24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin… ”
Gal 5:16-18, 24-25 “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh [our bodies]. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law… And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit”
Rom 6:11-20 “For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. 14For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. 15What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”
1 Cor 9:27 “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
Rom 8:1-2 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
2 Cor 5:1-4 “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle [our physical body] were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon [with glorified spiritual body] with our house which is from heaven: 3If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked [that is, sinful]. 4For we that are in this tabernacle [our physical body] do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.”
1 John 3:1-3 “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he [Christ] shall appear, we shall be like him [Christ]; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him [Christ] purifieth himself, even as he [Christ] is pure.