He was such a threat to Christians, that when the Lord spoke to a man named Ananias about ministering to Saul after he had been blinded on the Damascus Road, Ananias responded in fear (Acts 9:13-14). But the Lord assured Ananias that He had chosen Saul to be a missionary to the Gentiles, and so Ananias prayed for Saul’s healing and for him to be filled with the Spirit of God. But when the converted, healed and spirit-filled Saul returned to Jerusalem, the Christians there were understandably afraid of him, believing that he was only pretending to be a believer.
Question – “How could you tell if someone was only pretending to be a believer – and what are some ‘evidences’ that you look for when discerning whether or not someone really knows the Lord?” At times it is very difficult to tell if someone is only pretending to be a believer. Believers and non-believers alike attend church, read the Bible, live somewhat moral lives, profess their belief in God, and even enjoy being involved in ministry. There are some evidences of real Christianity, however, that we can look for to discern whether or not someone has a real relationship with the Lord.
One of the first evidences of real Christianity we can look for is change in a person’s life. When a person truly receives the Lord, their life begins to change because the Holy Spirit who enters their life begins to initiate godly changes. That’s why 2 Corinthians 5:17 reads: “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things pass away, and all things become new.” A second “evidence of real Christianity” is a willingness to confess to others that Jesus Christ is the Lord of one’s life. When people aren’t willing to talk about who Jesus is to them and what the Lord has done for them, they probably haven’t had a life-transforming encounter with the Lord.
Confidence in one’s eternal destiny is another evidence of real Christianity. Before a person comes to the Lord, they can only hope that one day they will go to
Heaven. However, real Christians know they are headed for Heaven, and therefore have little or no fear of death or the afterlife. Another evidence of real Christianity is a desire for companionship with the people of God. When someone comes to the Lord, they soon develop an innate desire to worship, fellowship and serve with other believers. Since Christians are different members of the same Body (1 Corinthians 12:1-27), true believers have a great desire to get connected with other members of the Body.
A sixth evidence of real Christianity is a desire to know God’s Word and live by God’s will. Real Christians soon learn the truth that Jesus spoke of: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). Not only do true believers have a desire to know God’s Word, but they also have a desire to live out God’s Word in their lives, which is living by God’s will. No one is perfect about living out God’s Word, but real Christians will have a desire to do so. A seventh evidence of real Christianity is that true believers will begin to conquer some of the ungodly ambitions, attitudes and actions of their lives. Real Christians have to live by faith, and faith is what enables us to overcome the world, and the values of the world, in our lives (1 John 5:4). There also are other evidences of real Christianity. May we all be true believers rather than pretenders.
As you pray today: 1) Pray for the Lord to show you in your life those evidences of real Christianity, and praise Him for the changes He’s made in your life; 2) Pray for the Lord to give you discernment about others in your life; and 3) Pray for the Lord to use you to help pretenders become true believers.