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Birthmarks of the True Believer

October 22, 2019 Save Article

1 John


When you were saved, you became a child of God. Heaven became your destination. More than that, God gave you permanent birthmarks to show you are His. I call them “birthmarks of the believer,” traits of the twice-born. If you don’t have these, you need to ask, “Have I ever really been saved?” It’s one thing to talk religion; it’s another to actually be a child of God. You may talk the talk, but are you truly saved?

Birthmarks of a True Believer

God doesn’t mince words about this. The Apostle John is known as “the beloved disciple,” “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 21:20). And of the twelve, John was closest to Jesus. “Love” is one of John’s keywords, so it’s a little startling when John says (inspired by the Holy Spirit), “If you claim to be a Jesus-follower and don’t keep His commandments—you’re a liar” (1 John 2:4).

Before he’d even said that, he’d already pointed out that if we’re all talk and no action, we’re kidding ourselves if we think we’re saved (1 John 1:6, 8,10). The “beloved disciple” doesn’t quit there; in chapter 2, he doubles-down:

He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.
He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother, is in darkness until now.

The elderly, beloved apostle didn’t sugar-coat it. He’s targeting phonies who talk a good game but had little to back it up.

So how can you know you’re not one of them?

Here are 3 “birthmarks” of someone who’s really saved:

1. A believer submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

No one can be saved without first receiving Christ as Lord. You don’t say “I’ll take Jesus as my Savior—forget the Lord part.” If you say He’s your Lord but don’t live by His Word, your life is a sham.

  • Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).
  • That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).

If you say He’s your Lord but don’t live according to His Word, your life is a sham. Jesus said, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things that I say?” (Luke 6:46).

If He’s is your Lord, you keep His commandments

That doesn’t mean you do everything perfectly. No one but Jesus Himself could. Even the Apostle Paul got frustrated with himself, knowing he couldn’t (Ephesians 3:8,1 Corinthians 15:9, 1 Timothy 1:15).

It doesn’t mean you’ll never get blown off course. John isn’t saying we’re saved by our works. When you treasure God’s commands and steer your life by them, you can say, “Yes, I know the Lord.”

If He’s not your Lord, then you’re not on your way to Heaven.

This is not legalism; this is love. You keep His commandments because you love Him. “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me” (John 14:21). If you don’t, you don’t really love Him; and if you don’t love Him, you’re not saved.

If you don’t have in your heart right now a desire to live by the Word of God, put a big question mark over that thing you call “salvation.”

2. A believer wants to live like Jesus lived.

Five times in First John, he uses the phrase, “as He” or “even as He” (1 John 1:7; 2:6, 3:3; 3:7; 4:17). If what you call “being saved” doesn’t make you like Jesus, you haven’t been saved. My life is to be “even as His” was.

If Jesus is Lord, you want to live:

  • Honestly

You’re honest with God, yourself, and others (1 John 1:6-7). If not, don’t call yourself a child of God.

  • Purely

“Every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).

If you love pornography, if you continually act upon lustful thoughts, don’t call yourself a child of God. You need to get saved. I’m not saying you can’t slip into sin. But if this is your way of life, you’re not walking as Jesus walked.

  • Righteously

Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” 1 John 3: 7

Righteousness isn’t passive (“I’ll just sit here and be sure I’m not doing anything wrong.”) Righteousness is actively doing good, just as Jesus did (Acts 10:38).

Sounds like a tall order. How will you do this?

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you’re the branches. He that abideth in Me and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit. For without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

It’s having the same relationship with Jesus that a branch has to the grapevine. Jesus is the vine, you are the branch.

Supernatural reliance on Jesus.

The branch does nothing of itself but clings to the vine, grows from the vine, and it receives whatever it needs, it just abides in the vine.

When people wondered how Jesus could do the things he did, He answered, “I’m not doing this. The Father does it. What the Father says, I say. What I see the Father do, I do,” abiding in the Father.

Only Jesus has ever perfectly done it. You can walk as He walked only when you rely fully on Him.

3. A believer shows and shares His love.

He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him1 John 2:9-10.

Hours before He was crucified, Jesus knelt and washed His disciples’ feet, saying, “A new commandment I give you, that you love one another…” (John 13:34). He washed Judas’ feet. Jesus loves each one, not because we’re lovely; He just loves us. “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another” (John 13:35).

Here are the birthmarks you’re looking for:

You submit to His Lordship.

You seek His lifestyle.

You share His love.

If you’re saved, it’s going to show through a life controlled by the Lord Jesus.

If your religion hasn’t changed your life, you need to change your religion. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature” (2 Corinthians. 5:17).

Are you saved? 

What does it mean to be truly saved? You come to know the Lord by faith. You trust Him as your Lord and Savior by faith. You can do that right now.

Friend, He does want to save you. “The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” He longs for you to be saved. There’s no one so good he doesn’t need to be saved and no one so bad he cannot be saved. Bow your head and sincerely from your heart pray:

Dear God, I know You love me. I know You want to save me. Jesus, You died to save me. You promised to save me if I would trust You. I do trust You, Jesus, right now, this moment, with all of my heart. Come into my heart. Forgive my sin. Save me, Lord Jesus.”

Pray that and mean it. Then pray, “Thank You for doing it. I receive it by faith. I don't look for a sign. I don't ask for a feeling. I stand on Your Word. Thank You for saving me. Begin now to make me the person You want me to be. In Your holy name, Amen.