How To Know You Are A Christian: 10 Traits Of A True Christian

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Many people are uncertain of their salvation.  Some denominations teach that you can lose your salvation.  Some Christians believe they can lose their salvation.  How can you be sure that you are a Christian?  Here are 10 true Christian traits or ways that you can rest assured that you have the Holy Spirit inside of you, working in you, which provide solid, biblical evidence that you are a Christian and that you can know that you are saved.

Conviction from Sinning

Do you feel convicted when you sin?  Is there an overwhelming sense that you did something wrong.  A person that continually sins without remorse may not be a Christian at all. Of course the more a believer sins and the longer that they refuse to confess their sin, a hardening of the heart occurs and eventually, they slide into more and more sin.  First John 1: 6 states, “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.”  Of course even Christians sin after conversion as 1 John 1:8, 10 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Jesus said that the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will come into believers lives and convict them when they sin.  Jesus said, Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.  When he comes, he will prove [literally, convict] the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:7-8).  Every believer will still sin as 1 John 1:8-10 states but when we do sin, we will feel conviction from God the Holy Spirit and want to make confession to God (1 John 1:9).  If there is never any conviction over sin, then a believer might wonder if the Holy Spirit is living within them. Certainly, if there is no indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that person is unregenerate and still in their sins.

Loving One Another

Surely a Christian can not claim to be saved and yet hate his brother or sister.  Once again, we go to the Apostle John for evidence that a believer can know that they are born again.  First John 2:9-11 says, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness.  Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.   But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”  No one can hate their brother or sister in Christ and claim to be a believer.

Jesus said that this is a strong indication of believers that they love one another.  In John 13:34-35, He says, A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  An important passage in these verses is where Jesus said, “by this” which indicates, by your love for one another, everyone will know that you are His disciples.  How?  “If you love one another.”  This is how everyone, believers and non-believers, will know that we belong to Christ and anyone who is Christ’s is safe and secure in knowing they are born-again (John 6:37, John 10:28-29).  In 1 John 4:20-21, God calls anyone a liar if they claim to be a believer and yet hates their brother or sister, “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? This commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”

Abstaining from Sin

As point number one stated, even Christians still sin, but they do not remain in sin or keep on sinning as if nothing is wrong.  I have heard many who have confessed to be Christians live in ways that are contrary to the ways of God but they state they are “carnal Christians.’  I can not help but be concerned for their salvation.  John stated a very serious warning to those who think they are saved but feel no conviction of continuing in sin because that is not the description of a born again believer.  First John 3:6-10 says, “No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him. Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 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”.  Also John writes, “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us” (1 John 3:24).

How To Know You Are A ChristianPraying Regularly

Imagine that you have just been married but you have also been deployed shortly after your honeymoon to an overseas military camp.  Now, you receive letters in the mail but you fail to read them except on Sunday and only then, just a few chapters.  And you also fail to communicate to your new bride.  So not only are you barely reading your brides letters but you are not calling her except only in emergencies.  This is how God must feel when we fail to pray to Him on a regular basis and to read the Bible only in church.  God has sent us the greatest love letters ever written – 66 books that show His unconditional love.  This is a love so deep that the groom died for you, yet we infrequently speak with Him or read His love letters to us (in the Bible).

By failing to pray on a regular, daily basis, and by not reading His letters to us (His Word), we show that He is not really that important to us.  I heard the story of a man who lived far away from his girlfriend.  He wanted to marry her and so he wrote her letters all the time but never visited her or called her on the phone.  After dozens of letters over a period of years, do you know what this woman did?  She married the postal carrier!  By not praying to God and by not reading His Word on a regular basis, we show that we really do not care as we profess we to.  We profess, we confess, but we do not possess.  We tend to communicate (pray) to Him only when we are in trouble or in emergencies and this treats God like a cosmic bell boy or treating Him like a 911 call.

Hungering and Thirsting for God

Most Christians love to learn and they feel a strong need to read the Bible.  To hunger and thirst for this is a strong indicator that the Holy Spirit is actively working in a believer.  In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matt. 5:6).  David had this intense hunger and thirst, writing “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).  Isaiah 55:1 records, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.”  Only Jesus can satisfy this deep thirst, as He said, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:14).

Seeking Those Which Are Lost

God has a strong desire that men and women be saved and that none would die without Christ.  If you have no desire or interest to share the gospel with the lost, then you do not have the same kind of desire that God has for those who will perish without Christ.  What breaks the heart of God should break the heart of those who He has redeemed.  It’s as if you had a cure for cancer and you refuse to share this cure with those who are dying in the Cancer Ward.  We fear being rejected, scorned, or embarrassed and so we do not witness to people about Jesus Christ.  We fear men more than God.  Peter, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Paul all understood this.  Paul told Timothy that God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4).  God has said, “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” (Ezekiel 18:32).

Sadly, 95% of Christians do not share their faith even though 73% of those who do not attend church have never been asked!  Are we ashamed of the gospel (Rom 1:16)?  Are we embarrassed about our faith in Christ?  We are to fear God more than man (Matt 10:28).  A stern warning comes from Christ: I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God.  But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God (Luke 12:8-9).

Glorifying Jesus Christ or Self?

God is seeking to be glorified in us.  God will not share His glory with another.  And why should He?  He is God!  He deserves all glory, honor and praise.  Isaiah 42:8 declares, “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.” The Westminster Shorter Catechism says that our chief purpose is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.  Too often I have been guilty of making myself look good and robbing God of His glory.  David did this once when he ordered a census of his troops.  This was prideful and arrogant of David because his real strength was in God and not in his own might. This is why God punished David.  When we seek to glorify ourselves or our own accomplishments, it’s as if we are robbing God of what is rightfully His.  When we take credit for things, we strip God of some of His glory.  God resists the proud but gives grace only to the humble (James 4:6).

How do we glorify God?  First Corinthians 6:19-20 asks, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”  These verses are more than just talking about what we put into our bodies…but what we do with our lives.  Our actions should reflect Christ in us and when others see Jesus living in us, others are attracted to Christ.  And when we boast about anything, let it be that we are who and what we are, all because of Christ Who lives in us.

Loving the World or Loving God?

We are told not to love the things of the world because if we do, the love of God is not in us.  The Apostle John says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).  This includes family as well.  Jesus plainly tells us that, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt 10:37).  James said, “don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4).  Most Christians spend more time on the computer, watching TV, or spending time on their own hobbies than they do in the Word of God (the Bible) or in prayer.  Of and by themselves, these things are not wrong, but when we spend inordinate amounts of time doing these things, then we are showing God that these are our real priorities.  Our time spent shows us where our heart is.

Our Hearts Are Where Our Treasure Is

We have been given many resources in this world.  Most Americans have been blessed above and beyond the vast majority of the world.  In comparison to the world’s population, we are truly rich.  If we have food for at least the next day, if we have sustenance in our cabinets for a few days, if we have heat in the winter and AC in the summer, if we have a roof over our heads, and we have more than a few dollars in the bank or our wallets, we are richer than 94% of the world.  Even so, Christians give only 2.5% of their income to support their local churches.  Only 1% of believers support Christian programs that they listen to regularly.  Jesus said For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Luke 12:34).   Your credit card statements and checkbook ledgers will reveal where your true treasure is.

Matthew 6:19-24 records Jesus’ statement that human’s tend to store up security in our possessions, including money saying, ”Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.   Our true priority should be seeking Christ and His kingdom above all else because if we do, we will have all that we need (Matt 6:33).

Do You Visit Orphans and Widows?

This might be one of the most overlooked job descriptions of a Christian.  It seems too simple yet few believers that I talked to, and even those in the church I under-shepherd do.  That is to visit the widows and orphans.  This is what pure and undefiled religion is really all about.  James put it succinctly when he wrote, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). I do not want to overlook the part about keeping oneself from being polluted by the world.  This was covered in point number 7.

Here is an example.  I have regular visits with church members who are in the hospital and I visit the local nursing home around 3 times a week.  Surely I can’t mean that these seniors, 60% of which never receive any visitors at all, can’t be the orphans, can they?  We know that there are many widows but there are also many widowers there too and I believe that God would be pleased with us if we visited them too, and not just church members.  I don’t single out church members but I try to visit with those who seem so lonely and never receive any visitors.  At the Wednesday night Bible study, I invite whoever desires to come…of any faith, denomination, or non-believers too.

These senior men and women are not only widows and widowers, but they are also orphans.  I am sure that nearly every one of them has lost their parents already and so they are not only physical orphans but spiritual ones too.  James did not specify what age these orphans and widows would be.  Why wouldn’t God be pleased that we include these disenfranchised people in our visits?  They are no less orphans and widows/widowers than young or middle age people who have lost their mates and they are no different than children who have lost their parents. Visiting them is part of what James (and God) calls pure religion.  This is the meat and potatoes of Christianity.  God is a Father to the fatherless.  He is a defender of the widows and widowers.  God is not interested in religion but in a relationship.  We are to be the hands and feet of Christ on earth.

Examine Yourself

Of course, there are probably more than these 10 things.  This list is not comprehensive.  When I was writing this, I fell on my face with conviction seeing that I myself was in trouble.  I can not completely keep these 10 things perfectly.   It cut me to the quick so I am surely not judging others…but I judge myself and found myself guilty before a Holy and Just God.  I begged for mercy and pleaded for his patience.  I do not want to leave you feeling guilty before God, but as Paul said, to examine yourselves as I did.  We are commanded to do this in 2 Corinthians 13:5-7, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?  And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.  Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide

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