“It is our privilege to know that we are saved.”
-Dwight L. Moody
In a classroom full of kids who have grown up in Christian homes, it isn’t uncommon to see confusion on their faces when asked how they know (without a doubt) that they are saved. During a summer church reading program, I asked the children how they are saved, expecting to hear, “because of Jesus”, instead they all replied, “through being good.” I am saddened by this response, recognizing full well what that kind of thinking can do to a person. How can you truly earn forgiveness? What could we ever do to fully earn something so out of our reach? That is why Jesus made it clear that it is solely a “gift” to be received, while death is all that we can and have fully earned (Romans 6:23).
The confusion doesn’t start with the children, who really just mirror the confusion of the parents on the matter. Many Christians today find this a debatable topic, and how dangerous it is to be divided on this important of an issue. Our beliefs must be clear in order for those who were lost to really know when they have received salvation. Entrance into heaven isn’t based on some lottery ticket draw, leaving all to question if they will get lucky or not.
I believe the religious spirit has made such matters superficial with no depth. They recite God’s Word out of ritual only and yet believe that they must reach a standard worthy of acceptance or forgiveness from God. As if Jesus’s death was only the beginning and not the answer, the end of all such debates. And so, how do we know we are saved? What is the defining factor that divides the saved from the lost?
It’s all about the heart, as God explained to Samuel:
“…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
We see this throughout the scriptures, as these examples further show:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23)
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
The verse from Proverbs sums it up for me, our actions are the direct result of what’s in our hearts. Therefore, simply saying “yes” to Jesus at a church service should be followed by an outward “change” in our actions. Actions will either prove or disprove the truth behind our words. And so I really believe it’s as simple as that, a saved person’s life is a transformed life. Are they perfect? No. Do they still sin? Yes, but their sin is followed by a conviction of the Holy Spirit within them and true repentance which should lead to freedom. In other words, what they did and how they felt about sin before they were saved should be different after, if they truly gave themselves to God and allowed Him to enter their hearts. Hence the phrase, “the old man has died and the new man has been born.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
A saved soul should be different than an unsaved one, but remember, only God can truly see the heart of an individual, therefore, salvation is a personal matter, that each believer in Christ should know for themselves as surely as they know their own hearts. It is not a matter we can speak of for others whose inner hearts are known only by themselves and God. Though, if one were to ask for advice they need only look toward their actions and character to determine truth.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)
And here it is, the answer plain as day. Proving that the HEART must declare with the mouth that Jesus is Lord.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)
If forgiveness of all sin is for the believer to receive? What does the Bible mean by saying there is an unforgivable sin? Doesn’t that put into question whether one is really saved?
I’ve heard Christians say, based off of this verse, that God hates some sin more than others. That there are some things that go beyond Jesus’s sacrifice to wash clean. So let’s look at the verse in question.
“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”‘ (Matthew 12:31-32)
This verse took place directly after Jesus’s miracles of casting out demons was ascribed by the Pharisees as works of demons rather than the works of the Son of God. Keep in mind, this was blasphemy against the Son, as the Holy Spirit had yet to come down. The unforgivable sin is referring to those who resist the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and falsely attribute works of the devil to Him, which is a willful act of defiance against the truth. As Hebrews 10:26-27 states:
“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES.”
To willfully reject God, even whilst knowing in your heart what is Truth (by the Holy Spirit). Which translates to denying salvation up to death. In doing this, you freely chose self over God, death over life, wickedness over righteousness, the wages over the gift, and eternal hell over eternal heaven.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)