Last week we started this series on finding certainty that you are truly saved - in relationship with God now and into an eternity spent with Him. Before gaining certainty of Heaven, we looked at what the Bible says it takes to get there: recognizing our problem of sin, seeing Jesus as the solution, and surrendering your life to Him - say and believe that, you can certainly know you are saved (Romans 10:9). But when you become a Christian, it is absolutely impossible to remain unchanged - radical, beautiful, life-giving changes happen when you accept Jesus into your life. These changes are evidence of a genuine faith, and help confirm you’ve truly been saved (or not). This week, we’ll look at one of two major noticeable changes in becoming a Christian, to gain more certainty of salvation.
Towards the end of the book of John, Jesus was recorded speaking to His closest followers just before His betrayal and arrest. He shared with His disciples that He would be leaving them. This was concerning for the people who had given the last few years of their lives to follow Him, leaving jobs and families for Jesus. But Jesus promised to give them something special that would comfort them as He physically departed. In John 14:16-17, Jesus tells His followers:
And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you.
He promised an Advocate - a helper, supporter, promoter - to be with and actually live within them. Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who follow Him. He said the world (non-believers) wouldn’t know the Spirit, but all who follow will have His Spirit living inside them. Paul elaborates on this idea of the Spirit filling believers on several occasions, Romans 8:9 and Ephesians 1:13-14 being some clear ones. Respectively, they say:
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.
Paul’s language is quite clear: if you trust Jesus to save your soul from your sin and to have an eternal relationship with God, you have the Holy Spirit inside you, and if you don’t genuinely accept Jesus, then you don’t have the Spirit. That is a certainty. So, looking at this big question of this whole series: how can you be certain that your relationship with God is real and that you’ll be welcomed to Heaven when your heartbeat stops? If you are Spirit filled. The Bible is clear that if you genuinely trust in Jesus, you are immediately given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Being Spirit filled is evidence of genuine faith.
But, now right away, we come to this next question: how do I truly know I am Spirit filled? There’s no special meter we can read that indicates the needle has moved from empty to Spirit-filled. But there are definite ways to know you’re Spirit filled. If we know why the Spirit is in us and what He does for us, we can look to our lives and reflect to see if He’s working in us (or not). What roles does the Spirit play in our lives? Let’s look…
Comforter & intercessor. We read in Romans 8:26-27 that the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses and literally prays on our behalf. This doesn’t mean that we will always be strong in every circumstance, never feel pain or weakness - but it means that the Spirit can and will provide supernatural strength and comfort to get through things that you couldn’t imagine working through. Personal reflection: have you asked God for comfort in a struggle and found unnatural peace? Have you experienced supernatural comfort in hard times?
Convicts of sin. Those who have the Spirit inside are convicted of sin (Galatians 5:16-21). Before becoming a Christian, as long as you got away with it, you could sin and feel no remorse. After becoming a Christian, something happens when you disobey God - you feel bad, knots in your stomach, compelled to ask for forgiveness and remove that sin from your life. Personal reflection: do you feel that conviction when you sin? Are you compelled to reach out to God for forgiveness when you struggle with sin? This is the Holy Spirit working in you.
Guides & directs. The Spirit will guide you in life, decisions we make, actions we take, He will guide how we ought to live (John 16:13). Personal reflection: have you felt the Spirit move you? Have you asked God for clarity on a particular decision, and be led a certain direction? Have you ever felt that inner nudge that you should probably step out of your comfort zone to be a friend to someone or to share Jesus with someone?
Revealer of truth. The truth of the Gospel is pretty crazy to believe, right? That a man lived 2,000 years ago was also God, and performed insane miracles, ultimately dying and raising back to life… Christians believe this to be historical and true, and the Spirit allows us to believe this truth (1 Corinthians 2:14-16). Personal reflection: Do you read God’s Word as ultimate truth? When you reflect on all amazing things Jesus did, do you read that as factually happening? Only the Spirit will reveal this to us as truth.
Sanctifier. The Spirit inside us gives us special qualities that don’t naturally come to us in all circumstances (Galatians 5:22-25). We don’t naturally love our enemies, find joy in hard times, have peace when the world is chaos, and it’s hard to remain faithful when our faith is tested. When you become a Christian, you go through a process of becoming more and more of these things (not perfect right away, but process). Personal reflection: have you seen this process begin, since accepting Jesus? Are you a more loving and patient person, than you were before Jesus? Do you have more joy? You should be, and that’s the work of the Spirit.
This is a quick snap shot of what the Spirit does in the lives of believers. People who genuinely have a relationship with God are guaranteed the gift of the Holy Spirit. Have you felt the Spirit work in your life? If you have, there’s certainty in your salvation in this truth. If you haven’t, I encourage you to re-evaluate what your relationship with God looks like and if you have surrendered your life to Jesus. Maybe “Christianity” has been a label, but not life change. Look to Jesus to save your soul from sin, say and believe He is Lord of your life, and ask the Spirit to do a work in your heart.