Many believers in Jesus have wondered, “How can I know I’m truly saved?” I believe one of the reasons this question has haunted so many people is because of the way we have approached salvation.
All of humanity, including Christians, have more often than not taken a “check-list” approach with God (another term for this is religion). I do such-and-such and I am “okay” with God. This is a fatal flaw, because this approach to God is centered in religion rather than relationship.
Here is how we as Christians have done religion: we have boiled salvation down to only forgiveness of sins. So we ask, “How can I have my sins forgiven?” Answer: Believing in Jesus. This leads us to think that if I give a mental assent to the divinity of Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross, then, I have fulfilled the checklist! Religion rather than relationship.
But something gnaws at us. Deep down, we know there is more to salvation than that. If I am “forgiven” by checking the list, but don’t walk with Jesus in a living relationship, I am still broken, captive, lost.
Salvation is both forgiveness of sins and walking in an abiding relationship with The Father, Son, and Spirit.
Remember how Scripture says that we are saved by faith? Faith is not merely a mental assent to the divinity of Jesus. Faith is walking in a living relationship with Jesus.
The apostle John puts it this way: “If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin…” (1 John 1:6-7)
So, what does it mean to walk in the light? Later in John’s letter, he says that when we love each other, then we are walking in the light. A central part of how we love each other is by obeying His commands. (Although we can try to obey His commands in a “checklist” sort of way and still not really love each other.)
But then John gives the answer to the question of “How do I know if I am saved?”
“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God…” (1 John 3:18-21)
If we are living by faith—which is walking in relationship with Jesus by truly loving Him and loving each other, not in a religious, “checklist” sort of way—then we have confidence before God!
As the Spirit said through the apostle John, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
Friends, let’s walk with Jesus in faith, and over time as we fall down and get up, continually seeking Him, continually surrendering to Him, He will purify, liberate, strengthen and grow us in His perfect love.