Seven Indicators of True Salvation If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would the evidence of your life be overwhelmingly clear that you know Christ and that He knows you? Genuine salvation is a life-changing experience. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come”(2 Cor. 5: 17). Good works do not remove sins, nor can they save anyone. But after a person is genuinely saved and is truly transformed by Christ, specific good works will start showing up as evidence or proof of their salvation. These seven things are not the cause or roots of salvation, but they are the fruits of true salvation. The book of 1 John gives us seven key indicators of genuine salvation revealing that someone is truly saved and knows God.
A lifestyle of obedience to God. Though Christians stumble and make mistakes, the big picture direction and habit of a true believer becomes one of submission and obedience to Christ. They will want to read and follow God’s Word. The Holy Spirit in their lives bends them toward greater and greater obedience. What about you? Have you been living a lifestyle of obedience toward God? “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked”(1 John 2:3–6).
A confession of Jesus as the Christ, God’s Son. First John 2:22–23 says, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.” While cults communicate that Jesus was merely a good teacher or prophet, God’s Word says He is the Christ, the sinless Son of God, and the Lord of all. Do you openly confess that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, or do you believe Him to be merely a good teacher or prophet?
A lifestyle of repentance of sin. Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish”(Luke 13:3). Though we all stumble in many ways (James 3:2), true believers will be confessing and turning away from sin, while false believers will not. First John 3:9–10 says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.”
Genuine love for other believers. “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him”(1 John 3:14–15). God’s Spirit pours out God’s love into the hearts of God’s children (Rom. 5: 5; Gal. 5: 22). Do you have a genuine love for other believers?
The discipline of God your Father. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are”(1 John 3:1). Even as a loving earthly father disciplines his children, God promises to discipline His children when they get out of line. He says this is one of the evidences of true salvation. “God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons… All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness”(Heb.12:7–8, 11). Have you experienced the clear discipline of your heavenly Father in your life?
The presence of God’s Holy Spirit. “This is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us”(1 John 3:24). If you are a true believer, then God’s Spirit is in you and will testify with your spirit that you are a child of God (Rom. 8:16). He will also convict you when you sin (John 16:8), reveal what God’s Word says when you read it (John 14:26), and pour genuine love, joy, and peace in and through you toward others (Gal. 5:22). Have you been experiencing these evidences of the Holy Spirit in your life?
Faith in Jesus alone for salvation (and not yourself). “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life”(1 John 5:12–13). Or as Paul said in Philippians 3:9, “Not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” Have you been trusting in Jesus alone for your salvation, or trusting yourself or your church?
These seven things are signs of a changed life—litmus tests revealing whether God has really made you a new creation or not. They don’t come naturally and are impossible to fake long-term. The world, the flesh, and the devil are all against you doing these things and will push you in the opposite direction from them. But if you look at your life over the past few months from a fifty-thousand-foot view, do you see these things? Do you see a genuine love for other believers? Or not? Repentance of sin? Or not? Obedience to God? Or not? The discipline of your Father? Or not? The evidence of God’s Spirit? Or not? A confession of Jesus as God’s Son? Or not? A genuine faith in Jesus alone for salvation? Or not? If these indicators reveal a true relationship with Christ, then rejoice and rest in it. If they do not, then don’t put off the command of Scripture to repent and believe in Jesus Christ, placing your faith in Him alone for genuine salvation.
By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
1 John 2:4-6 (NKJV) He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.