October 15, 2023
This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Birthmarks of the Believer.
Not everybody who says they are saved is saved. There are some birthmarks on the real born-again child of God.
Many people have a caricature of Christianity—a distortion.
They think Christianity is just behavior modification. But you can’t purify the water by painting the pump.
Others have the idea that Christianity is all negative: don’t do this and that. Satan wants you to think that God is a killjoy, and that Christians are so straight-laced they can’t have any joy in this life.
Some people think Christians are only interested in going to Heaven when we die. We are interested in eternal life, but our salvation deals not only with the sweet by-and-by, but with the now-and-now. Right now, we have the Lord Jesus Christ to give us a life that is full and free.
So what is a true Christian?
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
Jesus has a right to command us. “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
Does that mean that if you have ever broken one of God’s commandments, you are not saved? No.
The word “keep” is an interesting word. It means “to value,” as you would value a treasure. If someone gives you something and says, “Keep this for me,” you would guard and respect it because it is valuable.
Do you respect the commandments of God? Do you guard them? Are they meaningful to you, or blasé? Do you keep and guard His commandments? This word “keep” was a sailor’s word. They did not have global positioning satellites when 1 John was written. To sail across the trackless sea, men had to guide themselves by the stars. Those stars never change, so a sailor guiding his ship was “keeping the stars.” That is, he set his course by them.
Born-again believers keep the commandments of Jesus. That does not mean they never sin: a man steering the ship may get blown off course, but he sees and corrects the course.
Are you doing that? Is the burning ambition of your life to please Him, to keep His Word, to keep His commandments? If not, the Apostle John says you are not saved—you are lying.
You are not saved by keeping the commandments—you are saved by grace. But if you are born again, you are going to keep His commandments. You don’t do good works because you are trying to work your way into Heaven. You do them because you love Christ.
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.”
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
The walk means the lifestyle. Again, you do not walk as Jesus walked in order to be saved; you walk as Jesus walked because you abide in Him. His life is in you. You are to be like He is. “As He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17b). Not when we get to Heaven—in this world.
How did Jesus walk?
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
To walk in the light means nothing hidden. One great mark of walking as Jesus did is that you will be honest. Jesus was honest with the Father, with Himself, and with others. If your heart is full of deceit and lies, you need to get saved.
"Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).
Is Jesus pure? Of course, He is. That means that if there is filth, immorality, pornography, or any impurity in your life, that is not the lifestyle of Jesus. (Would you watch that if Jesus were sitting on the couch next to you?)
“He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7b).
Righteousness isn’t merely not doing certain things. “I don’t steal, get drunk, or curse.” Well, neither does a telephone pole. Jesus went about doing good. (See Acts 10:38.)
The secret of walking as Jesus walked is to abide in Him. Jesus Himself explains it: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
Relinquish — The branch is totally surrendered to the vine. All you can do is serve Jesus. “What about my job?” If you use your job right, you will be serving Jesus with your job. Serve Jesus with your family. Serve Jesus with your recreation. Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24a).
Rely — The branch does not depend upon anything except the vine. Everything the branch needs, the vine supplies. The branch doesn’t worry about how many grapes, what size, what color, how sweet. The branch does not produce the grapes—it only bears them.
Rejoice – Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).
You are not just trying to imitate Jesus. The life of God is supernaturally reproduced in you. It is not enough for you to ask “What would Jesus do?” That presumes that you know. Jesus will surprise you. Unless He gives you insight into what He would do, you won’t have a clue.
He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
If His love is in you, then you will love others. If your heart is headquarters for hate, you are not saved. “The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:5b). When they were nailing Jesus to the cross, He prayed for them, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34b).
Jesus said earlier, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). He said that after He had washed His disciples’ feet.
Real love is not just saying, “I love you.” Christlike love is serving, sanctifying, and steadfast.
You are not saved by showing God’s love or by doing good works. But if you are saved, you will do those things.
1 John 2:3-10, 3:3,7, 4:7; Luke 6:46; John 13:34, 14:23, 15:4,11; Acts 10:38; Matthew 6:24; Romans 5:5; Luke 23:34
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
Jesus answered…“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.