Dear Pastor Lawyer,
I’ve been going to church all of my life, but some of the things you’ve been saying have me wondering if I’ve ever become a Christian at all. How can I tell if I’ve become a Christian? Thanks,
Thanks for writing. It’s refreshing to hear someone actually question whether God is active in her life. In my experience, most people assume their salvation even though they don’t have much real reason for their confidence.
It is important to remember that being a Christian means not only that you are saved from your sins (and therefore condemnation), but also that you have now been brought into a new and living relationship with God the Father. The Bible says that the person who is not led by the Spirit thinks the things of God are foolishness and he cannot understand things that are truly spiritual. After he believes, God causes His word to come alive. Not only can the new Christian understand it; he will also fall in love with it. The questions I have for you are — Do you love the Word of God? Do you find yourself sneaking away from people and events in order to read and study and meditate on it? Do you agree with the Psalmist when he says that he delights in the Law of God? If Bible study is a joy to you; if it brings you great excitement to read about what God has done in history on behalf of his people; if your strongest desire has become to know the God of the Bible as you read and study His word, then I’d say there’s a good chance that you have become a Christian. On the other hand, if none of the above is true for you, I’d say there’s a good chance you probably aren’t a Christian.
Another change that will occur, if you are a true Christian, is that your friends will begin to find reasons to avoid being with you. Your new spirit will irritate them and you will notice that they aren’t all that much fun anymore either. You will find yourself trying to tell them about your new relationship with Jesus, and the things you used to have in common will not seem all that important to you. If you have noticed this happening in your life, you are probably a Christian. If however, your friends see no change in your life, there probably hasn’t been one.
Third, when people are not Christians, they usually think Christians are a bit strange. Often, if they think of them at all, they feel sorry for Christians and may even pity them for being such suckers. Sometimes they even hate Christians. Christians can be annoyingly loving and sometimes their squeaky clean lifestyles can be a bit disturbing. I don’t know what you thought of Christians before you became one, but if you’ve become a Christian, this view should have changed. The Bible says that people who know God love Christians. When people know God and want to be with him, they also want to be with other Christians. If you don’t like Christians much, you probably aren’t one yet.
Finally, people who hang with God begin thinking like God. They change the way they used to think to the way God thinks. They change their behavior to reflect the One who has bought them and loves them. Christians live lives of godliness and holiness. They begin to hate sin — their own as well as the sin of others. If a person is a Christian, his life will begin to show that he loves God and is striving to be like him. If your life hasn’t changed in the direction of godliness, if you aren’t more sensitive to sin, if your desire isn’t to be more like your Savior, you are probably still in your sins.
I hope this helps.