So, you have confessed Jesus is Lord and you have believed in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead but how do you know that you are truly saved and that this prayer has worked? For a long time, I worried about this. I would stand in church looking at everyone else, telling myself “I don’t belong here”, “I am not good like these other people” etc. etc. I was so aware of my sin that I could not believe that I was saved like these other “good” people around me. I was kidding myself … The people around me were not sinless, they were not “good” people but sinners just like myself! Now this can take a while to get your head around because we as humans tend to categorize sin into various levels but that is not how God sees it at all. I will speak more about this in a blog dedicated to sin!
We looked yesterday at Romans 10:9 where Paul clearly states what you must do in order to be saved. “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” Paul writes that salvation comes through faith alone, again in Romans 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law”. What can confuse many Christians is when they come to the book of James it seems that he contradicts this. James 2:24:14-17 “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
What James is doing here is challenging us! He wants us to ask ourselves:-
James understands that if one has been truly saved and is now a Child of God, one will automatically become more like Jesus and this should become more and more obvious as we journey along the path of salvation. James is pointing out that if we are to tell the world “I am saved!” yet carry on our same lifestyle of sin, how can this reveal Jesus?
This can be a scary concept to hear as oftentimes we still feel pretty much the same so we may panic and think we cannot be saved. The truth is we are still sinners and therefore we will still sin, however, we should see this decrease, we should see our minds turning from thoughts of sin, we should feel more of a love for others, more of a desire to do good for others. Now it may be that you are struggling with a specific sin, perhaps a dependence on alcohol or pornography etc. etc. I would not say that because this persists that you are not saved. It is likely that you may need to seek help for this whether through prayer, through your church or through counselling, etc. If, however, you continue to frequently use foul language and blaspheme in public for example, it is unlikely that you are saved. A Child of God is a representative of Jesus on earth. A Child of God is the hands and feet of Jesus and as such this kind of behaviour is completely inappropriate and disrespectful to God. I must reiterate, salvation is a journey that we will undertake throughout our whole lives even if we become a Christian as a child, you will still not achieve anywhere near perfection by God’s standards by the time your life has come to an end.
I have learnt that it is important not to worry about this. What do I achieve by worrying? Am I coming closer to God by doing this? No, I am retreating from Him. Am I displaying Christlikeness on earth? No, I am displaying anxiety and a lack of trust in God! Instead, if I choose to trust, to really trust that God has saved me, what will that look like? Well, I will be able to get closer to God, I will allow God to lead me in my life and others will see the difference in me and may become convinced in the truth of God themselves!
Begin by taking a note of even the smallest thoughts you have of love or care towards others that you do not believe you would have thought before. Take notes in actions you do for others that you do not believe you would have done before. Once I met relatives of mine in the street who were heading for the bus stop. I chatted with them for a short time and as I walked away I felt this strong feeling of care for them that the bus came quickly so that they did not need to stand long at the bus shelter as it wasn’t particularly warm. Being entirely honest with myself I know I would not have had such an intense feeling of care towards them over such a small issue. I would not have wanted them to have to stand in the cold, but I would not have thought so deeply in my heart about it. This was the first time I noticed something different. It is such a small issue yet by this I knew the Spirit was working in me. I will devote another blog to the workings of the Holy Spirt!
Another factor of James writing this is that many new believers, understanding that faith had saved them thought they could continue in sin because they could not be unsaved. James seeks to sabotage this way of thinking and make people understand that this is not the actions of a saved individual. When we are saved, we know we are accountable to God, we know others will be watching us to see how our lives change when we become Children of God. We should not want to let our Father down and we should want to demonstrate his holiness to others. As new believers God has adopted us. We are now children of God and He is our Father. We spend the majority of our lives trying not to let our earthly fathers down and instead make him proud of our actions, how much more so should we do this for our Eternal Father in Heaven!!
I realise this is a complex subject and I have just scratched the surface of it. However, I hope I have made it a bit clearer for you, and, if there is anything you are confused about, please check the contact page for ways to get in touch with me.
Love and Blessings