2009-07-05 - How do I know that I am a Christian?
Psalm 119:162, I rejoice at Thy Word, as one who finds great spoil.
In the first part of looking at this question, we looked more at the inward life and thoughts of our hearts, than the external actions that others more frequently notice. I intend to continue in this mindset today, because I think that our inward life before the face of God is a better indication of true faith, than outward works can ever be. I also think that the outward always flows, if the inward is strong, but the reverse is not always true. The outward actions of human goodness can thrive where there is no true faith. Many, it is feared, do many good things simply for the praise of man, rather than the glory of God.
One characteristic that is fairly distinctive to Christians is that they are not friends with the world. James 4:4 tells us that friendship with the world is hostility toward God. So the Christian will not easily make friends with the world. The Christian is not living for this world anyway, since the Christian knows that this world is passing, and only those things that are done to Gods glory are lasting. The Christian is free from worry about laying up treasure here on Earth, because they are busy laying up treasure in Heaven. He/she is not looking to gain much here in this life, because there is really nothing the world has to offer that is worth having. By the same rule, the Christian also has a mindset that he/she has nothing to lose concerning worldly things. It is freeing to seek Gods glory first in everything, because all other things become so secondary that they turn into nothing.
The Christian has a faith that doesnt die out. It sometimes happens that the Christian will go through seasons of doubt, or struggle with sin, but one of the hallmarks of a follower of Christ is that they follow Christ. The consecrated life is not sporadic, short-lived, or easily foiled. It is not a three-month, or even three-year endeavor, but rather the Christian is set apart for life. Sin is not simply unpleasant for the Christian, sin is hideous. This mindset flows from a heart that is given to the Lord and in regular fellowship with Him. The one who communes frequently with Jesus does not wander away into indulgent crimes (sins) against the Lord with whom he/she has a vital relationship.
These things flow from our hearts, and our hearts must be renewed to be followers of Christ for the long haul. The Christian will always be seeking to live up to their profession, but always lamenting that they fall much too short. They find their strength in the Lord, but it manifests itself inwardly - in force of resolution and power of spirit that will not yield to the influences which are contrary to what God has revealed to us, in His Word, as His will for us. It sometimes means that we have to swim upstream in this life. There are difficulties, but our comforts are true comforts. They are not passing. The worst may befall us, but the Holy Spirit has given us the ability to remain true to our profession. This is why the evidence of our faith must first be inner. It shows itself often in our lives, but it is first evident to us in our hearts, and to the Lord whom we serve. After that, because such peace is enough, we need not worry about the false comforts the world tries to offer us. We know true peace, and we would not trade it for a sham alternative.
Soli Deo Gloria,