Perhaps you ‘made a decision for Christ’ at one time, but it seems nothing has changed. How can you know for sure that your sins are forgiven? Proof comes in the form of transformation.
Romans 12:1-2 says, “Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.”
Genuine salvation begins a process of transformation. At the time of salvation, the Holy Spirit takes residence in your life. He imparts a new spiritual life that makes you alive to Christ. Now you have the capability to please God by your thoughts, your actions, and your ambitions.
First, your relationship with Christ changes. Suddenly Jesus Christ becomes the most important person in the world to you. You are willing to give up all other relationships that stand in the way of getting to know Him better. In Luke 14:26 Jesus says, ” “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” He is not asking you to treat your family like enemies, but to be willing to forsake them if they oppose your new found faith.
Before Christ was your enemy, but now He is your friend (Jn 15:15). Before He was your judge. Now He is your justifier (Rm 8:33). He purchased you with His blood when He died on the cross for you, so now He is your master. Your goal in life is no longer to please yourself, but to please Him. And He demands your all, including your very life should He require it (Mk 8:34). But He is more than just your master. He is also your brother because God the Father has adopted you into His family. And if you are a part of God’s family, then you are an heir of God’s glory together with Christ (Rm 8:17).
Your desires also change. Instead of seeking your own selfish desires, you now have the ability to seek what pleases God. Psalm 37:4 says, “ Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Christ himself becomes your chief delight. The more pleasure you take in Him, the more of Himself He shares with you, bringing a deeply satisfying and inexpressible joy.
The Holy Spirit also transforms your attitude towards the Word of God. When you weren’t a Christian, you rarely if ever read the Bible and when you did, it didn’t mean much to you. Now you can’t get enough of it and the more you study it, the more you understand it and the more you want to know about it. In Psalm 19 and 119, the Psalmist expresses his love for the Word of God in many ways. In Psalm 19 he says the law of the Lord is ‘perfect,’ ‘sure,’ ‘right,’ ‘pure,’ ‘clean,’ ‘true,’ and ‘righteous.’ He says it makes the simple wise, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, warns against sin and rewards those who obey it. In Psalm 119 he expresses his deep love for the word over and over again. He says he takes more pleasure in God’s testimonies than in riches (v 14), that his soul is consumed with longing for God’s rules (v 20), that God’s testimonies are his delight (v 24 ), that he longs for God’s precepts (v 40), and that his hope is in God’s rules (v 43). This will become your attitude as well when you delve into God’s Word day by day.
You used to doubt God’s word. But now you trust it. You take God at His word and believe all of it, both matters of fact such as history and science and matters of faith. You take comfort and gain encouragement from some parts of it, and struggle to come to grips with those parts that wound you or are hard to understand or may make you seem foolish to unbelievers (1 Cor 1:23). You accept the miraculous parts along with the parts that are obviously very human and mundane (Gal 3:6, 2 Tim 3:16). The Word of God becomes the very source of the new life within you.
The Holy Spirit also transforms your relationship with others. He begins to take away those attitudes and behaviors that alienate others. Colossians 3:8-10 says, “But now, put off all such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it.” In the place of these behaviors He gives you “…..the fruit of the Spirit [which is] is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” This new attitude is not one of self promotion but seeking the welfare of others. In the words of Philippians 2:3-4, ” Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.”
The Holy Spirit also transforms your relationship with things. He removes the desire to accumulate earthly goods and replaces it with a desire to store up lasting treasures in heaven “…where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal” (Mt 6:9). He gives you the privilege of converting perishable goods into imperishable wealth (Lk 16:1-9). You may have been stingy with your money before, but now you take delight in helping others and contributing in material ways to the spread of God’s kingdom.
If you are genuinely born again, others will take notice of these changes. They will see the new you and wonder what has happened. They will also notice your new fondness for Jesus Christ and His word. You will refer to Him often, quote Him in appropriate situations and be eager to share Him with others. If for some reason the authorities came to arrest all believers, your friends would expect to find you in jail. If they were asked to pick the believers out of a lineup they would point to you. Your faith would be no secret (Mt 10:33).
All these things obviously aren’t going to happen instantaneously. It will be a process that takes time. Some people experience rapid change and others may take a long time to grow in their faith. But grow you will if you have been truly born again. God has invested an inestimable amount of capital in you and He expects a return on His investment in obedience to Christ. If He doesn’t get it, you will be cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt 25:30). And what is this ‘outer darkness’? Jesus describes it as a place “where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.” It is a place especially prepared for bodies God has designed for destruction. These bodies can be constantly rotting and burning and yet never be consumed. In hell the agony of spiritual death and separation from all that is good and holy never ends. It is a place where there is no hope of escape.
But the good news is that God has prepared another kind of body for those who follow Him. This body is incorruptible, indestructible, full of the glory of God Himself. It never gets sick or weary or suffers injury. It will never grow old. It is made to last for eternity (1 Cor 15:50-57). It is a body fit for heaven. This body will be yours if you belong to Jesus Christ.