“Am I saved?” is one of the most important questions we can ask. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus said many people are deceived about the answer:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”
In 2 Corinthians 13:5 Paul commands:
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.”
Here are seven ways to do that, but first, two introductory points:
- I taught messages on six of the tests at Woodland Christian Church. Links to each message are below.
- First John was written, “that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). As a result, 1 John is referenced more than any other book.
Test 1: Have I experienced godly sorrow that produces repentance?
Repentance is required for salvation, and it comes from godly sorrow over our sin:
2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly sorrow produces death.
Worldly sorrow is the sorrow in:
- Courtrooms across the country when the verdict is read
- Children when they find out they’re going to be punished
- Adults when they find out they’re going to suffer because of something they’ve done
Basically, worldly sorrow is regret or shame, not because of the sin itself, but because of the consequences. It has no redemptive value.
Godly sorrow on the other hand involves sorrow over the sin, because there’s understanding the sin was committed against a holy, loving God. Godly sorrow desires victory over sin, and as a result it produces a change of mind about the sin; a turning from it. Repentance.
“Sorrow” is synonymous with regret, and Paul says godly sorrow won’t later cause regret; it won’t later cause more sorrow. Why? Because it “produces repentance that leads to salvation.”
Test 2: Has my repentance produced fruit?
Ephesians 2:9-9 says:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Even though we aren’t saved by works, they are one of the strongest evidences of being saved. I’m amazed by the number of people confident in salvation that lacks fruit. Could be the salvation of a parent, child, sibling, or even their own. Three times James said, “faith without works is dead” (2:17, 20, 26).
Test 3: Has my faith persevered through trials?
While none of us enjoy trials (which is why James 1:2 commands us to “count” them as joy versus “feel” joy), one of the blessings from them is the greater confidence they can give us in our salvation:
- James 1:3 says trials “[test] your faith.” In what sense? To see if it survives trials.
- 1 Peter 1:7 says trials “prove” or “reveal” the “genuineness of our faith.”
When our faith survives trials we can rejoice regarding our faith being tested and proved.
Conversely, in Matthew 13:21 Jesus said the seed that fell on rocky ground didn’t survive when trials arose. Just as trials reveal the sincerity of faith, they also reveal when faith is insincere.
Test 4: Is my life characterized by obedience?
Just like Christians never reach a place of perfect sinlessness, they also never reach a place of perfect obedience; however, just like believers can avoid lives characterized by sin, they can also have lives characterized by obedience:
- Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments (1 John 2:3).
- He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:4).
- But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked (1 John 2:5-6).
- Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous (1 John 3:7).
Test 5: Do I practice sinning?
Scripture does a tremendous job providing balance, and sin in a believer’s life is one of those balanced areas:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (1 John 1:8).
We never stopping sinning completely and to believe differently is a lie, but at the same time Scripture makes clear that believers can’t have lives characterized by sin.
- If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth (1 John 1:6).
- And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3).
- Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him (1 John 3:6).
- He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God (1 John 3:8-9).
John means, “he cannot keep on sinning,” establishing a pattern, or lifestyle of sin. That’s an impossibility for believers.
Paul communicates the same truth. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 he lists a number of sins – lying, idolatry, homosexuality, thieving, drunkenness – that prevent people from inheriting the kingdom of God. Then in verse 10 he says, “And such were some of you.” After we become Christians our lives can no longer be characterized by those sins.
Test 6: Do I hunger and thirst spiritually?
None of us always feel like praying, reading the Bible, going to church, or being in fellowship, but we should have a regular desire for these spiritual activities. Assuming people have put their faith in Christ, they should look forward to worshiping the Lord who saved them. There’s only one group of people who don’t hunger and thirst for truth for these spiritual activities and that’s the unregenerate.
Test 7: Do I understand spiritual truths?
Believers have received the Divine Teacher:
- John 14:26 The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
- 1 John 2:27 The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.
Saved individuals will have at least some grasp of spiritual truths. We’re not talking about every believer being a tremendous theologian, but we are talking about a spiritual illumination of basic truths. As much as spiritual blindness is an evidence of being unsaved, spiritual sight is evidence of being saved.
I’m thankful for the tests God provides in His Word. They should give some greater confidence in their salvation, while making others question whether they’re truly saved. My prayer is this post helps both groups!
Discussion Questions for the Comments Section
- Can you think of any other tests?
- When you administer these tests to yourself, what comes to mind?
- Think of some individuals in Scripture we’d consider to be saved. Which tests do they pass? Fail?