Taken From the Book of First John
The question of salvation and assurance, or lack of, can be answered in the book of first John. In first John you will find what a true believer in Jesus Christ looks like. Our faith or belief is comprised of mainly two themes like the wings of an airplane; 1. the correct confession or what we say (orthodoxy,) 2. the correct practice or how we live (orthopraxy) A true believer will have the right understanding and confession of essential doctrines. They will also have a life that lines up with the scriptures. One without the other is insufficient.
In the study of religion, orthopraxy is correct conduct, both ethical and liturgical, as opposed to faith or grace etc. This contrasts with orthodoxy, which emphasizes correct belief, and ritualism, the use of rituals. The word is a neoclassical compound—ὀρθοπραξία (orthopraxia) meaning ‘correct practice’. (source of definition is Wikipedia)
How do we know that we know Him? Below is the criteria formatted in a simple outline easy to follow. Each item will have the scripture reference. For this study the terms: “know Him”, “in Him”, “abide in Him”, “we are of the truth”, and “born of God” will be synonymous. I also have made some brief comments under each statement.
1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
Orthopraxy or What We Practice
We Know When We Keep His Commandments – 1 John 2:3, 3:24
I don’t believe this is talking about the ten commandments but the specific commandments Jesus gave, namely, “love one another”. You may want to investigate the difference between the ten commandments and the two Jesus gave.
We Know When We Keep His Word – 1 John 2:5
I would say this means to embrace and obey His Word and would include the whole of His Word.
We Know When We Walk As He Walked – 1 John 2:6
In a modern day vernacular it would mean to “live it” Are we living for the Lord?
We Know When We Do Not Love the World – 1 John 2:15-17
This is quite a revealing verse that many today I would say have a problem with. You may lack assurance if you are living and loving the world and all that it offers. There would be good reason to doubt if in fact this is the totality of your life. Then you may not be saved. In 1 John 2:15 I would pay attention to the term, “not in him” If we love the world the love of the father is not in us. A very sobering thought.
We Know When We Continue in the Faith – 1 John 2:19
The continuing evidence of our salvation is that we are not those who leave the faith and are exposed as antichrists.
We Know When We Have An Anointing From the Holy One 1 John 2:20, 24-27
This can be a subjective test of knowing that we are in God and He is in us. Mormons and other cult members will claim that they know the truth because of their “anointing”. In the case of Mormons it is the burning in the bosom. How can one be sure? The anointing that Christians receive is the supernatural ability to discern truth. This discernment comes from the Holy Spirit, it is not something that is learned from man. Coupled with the rest of the book of first John it will make sense. I don’t think this test is a stand alone proposition.
We Know When We Do Not Practice Sin – 1 John 3:3-9, 5:18
As Christians we sin. If we didn’t, John would not have given us the remedy for when we do sin. 1 John 1:8-10, 2:1-2. There are besetting sins that a believer may battle with where failure occurs. I don’t think it means this. The practice of sin is a habitual lifestyle of sin. This makes any profession of faith suspect to being genuine. If you have ongoing episodes of living in sin and are out of fellowship with God, and other believers, then you may lack assurance, and perhaps rightfully so. The mirror of this statement is found in the next verse. 1 John 2:29, 3:10
We Know When We Love Our Brother – 1 John 3:10-18
Most commentators would disagree with me here but I think it is talking about any human being and is synonymous with the word “neighbor” Love thy neighbor as thy self. Later in the book it mentions specifically Christian brethren. This passage also contains the fruits, (or works) of love as evidence if we really have love. This is a very convicting passage here for me. Remember we are called to love our enemies.
We Know When Our Heart Does Not Condemn Us – 1 John 3:19-23
Along with the anointing this is another subjective type of test but produces confidence, answered prayer 1 John 5:14-15, and strength and faith to obey.
We Know When We Are Given His Spirit – 1 John 3:24, 4:13
Once again we are given perhaps a subjective experience as to having the Spirit. John follows with the caution not to believe every spirit and gives the mandate on how to know if it is the correct Spirit of God. 1 John 4:1-6
We Know When We Love Other Believers – 1 John 3:13-14, 5:1-2
I think this is one of the simplest evidences of how we know God. Do we love the children of God? I can describe it as an uncanny love for all believers even if I don’t know them, or agree with them. I don’t really have to particularly like them. The love of God transcends over all human ability.
We Know When We Hear the Message of the Apostles – 1 John 4:6
We Know When We Love God – 1 John 4:17-19
This is a larger discourse on love by John here. It encompasses the full range of God’s love for us and our love for God. The text also elaborates on our love for one another and seeing God through the manifestation of love. Next is the perfection of love in being confident or bold on the day of judgment. We have no reason to fear like Adam did if we have been perfected in love.
We Know When We Overcome the World – 1 John 5:4-5
In order to overcome the world we must believe in Jesus. Because Jesus overcame the world, (John 16:33) we will overcome. If we are born of God, we will also overcome because He is in us.
Orthodoxy or What We Confess
We Know When We Confess Jesus is the Christ (or Messiah) – 1 John 2:22
By rejecting the teaching that Jesus is the Messiah one is found a liar and an antichrist. This is an elementary part of our salvation. This denial has serious ramifications. Do you confess Jesus as being the Christ?
We Know When We Confess that Jesus Came in the Flesh – 1 John 4:1-3
Do you believe Jesus is God incarnate? This is an absolute truth to be believed upon for salvation. John 8:24, 2 John 1:7 The acknowledgement that Jesus is God will come out in a person’s testimony by the Holy Spirit. Cults and alike will not acknowledge this fact. Also that He was a real man; a real man without sin however.
We Know When We Confess that Jesus is the Son of God – 1 John 4:15
Upon the Ethiopian’s confession Philip then baptized him. (Acts 8:37, 38) Also we see that when the Jews told Pilate that there was a Jewish law that Jesus had violated; namely Jesus said he was the Son of God, which they knew to believe he was claiming deity. Pilate then became more afraid and then proceeded to ask where Jesus was from. John 19:7-9
We Know When We Believe that Jesus is the Christ – 1 John 5:1
Similar to the above statement, we believe in Jesus and who He is because of the fact we have been born of God. John 3:3-8
We Know When We Believe the Testimony of God – 1 John 5:9-13
When we believe and accept the testimony that God has given us of his Son, this is evidence of eternal life. This involves having the witness in ourselves and it is all because of the Spirit in us