By John C. Carpenter
In his second letter to the church in Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote, This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established. I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare: Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Cor 13:1-5).
In verse 5, the word examine is the Greek word peirazo, which means to assay, examine, prove, scrutinize, or try. Paul instructed the Corinthian believers in Christ to examine and scrutinize themselves in an effort to verify that they were true believers. This seems a strange request from Paul since the believers at Corinth were members of the local Christian church, had apparently confessed Christ, and supposedly believed in and were guided by the Holy Spirit. So, why had Paul made this request?
I believe Paul wrote and instructed the believers in Corinth to test themselves as to their faith for two reasons. First, the church at Corinth was questioning Paul's own faith. At least some of the members of the church did not believe that Paul was a true Christian or a true apostle of the faith. Some apparently doubted his relationship to God, his ministry, and even his authority. This probably angered Paul, and made him respond to the church at Corinth with some defensiveness. It is almost as if Paul was saying, “after the way you guys have been behaving, you shouldn't be accusing me of not being in the faith; honestly, you should take a good look in the mirror; you should be examining yourselves as to whether you are truly in the faith.” Secondly, Paul wanted the Corinthian church to test their own faith because Paul saw the Corinthians behave in some ways that were not consistent with what Paul knew to be true faith in Christ. Paul knew they really needed to take a look at their own behavior, and come to their own conclusions as to whether they truly knew God through Christ.
The church in Corinth doubted Paul. They wanted proof that Paul was a true believer, a true apostle, and a true representative of God the Father. Paul, himself, revealed their doubts about his legitimacy when he wrote them, Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you (2 Cor 13:3). Paul used himself, his own life, his own ministerial experiences, his own suffering, trials and tribulations in an effort to convince the Corinthian church that he was a true apostle of Christ. Paul was confident that he knew well the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and could convince the church at Corinth that his calling and ministry were truly of God the Father.
At the very beginning of his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul first mentioned his own personal suffering, as well as the Godly comfort he would receive for that suffering. Paul wrote, For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation [comfort] also aboundeth by Christ. Andwhether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, thatas ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation (2 Cor 1:5-7). Paul said that his sufferings, especially in Asia, had been so great that he had even despaired to life (2 Cor 1:8), and that he survived his sufferings only because he had trusted in God who had delivered him, and because the church in Corinth had prayed for Paul and his fellow apostles (2 Cor 1:9-11). Paul added that because of the testimony of his conscience, he and his companions knew that they had been delivered from their sufferings not by their own fleshly and worldly wisdom and ability, but only by the grace of God (2 Cor 1:12). Paul wanted the believers in the Corinthian church to realize that, as true believers, they, as with Paul, could and should not only expect to suffer for the sake of Christ, but could also expect to be comforted by Christ, as well.
Paul also wanted the Corinthian believers to understand not only the fact that God had given him his ministry, but also wanted the church to understand God's purpose in his ministry, or service, to them. Paul also hoped to bring them to the understanding that the true believer in Christ should also be serving. Paul explained that through his ministry he desired to benefit the church in Corinth (2 Cor 1:15), that Paul and his fellow apostles, Silvanus and Timothy, had preached Christ to them (2 Cor 1:19), that God had intentionally and purposely anointed and sent Paul to the church in Corinth (2 Cor 1:21), and that God had sealed Paul and his calling with the Holy Spirit in Paul's heart.
Paul also used his own tolerance and forgiveness as an example in an effort to model forgiveness to the Corinthian church (2 Cor 2:5-6), So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him (2 Cor 2:7-8).
Furthermore, Paul was thankful for his God given ability to preach the sincere, clean, pure gospel of Christ, as well as the victory which Christ provided in his ministry. In an effort to teach the Corinthian believers this type of humility and thankfulness, a quality which true believers should also possess, Paul wrote,Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity [clearness, purity], but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ (2 Cor 2:14-17).
Paul referenced to the Corinthian church his own humility, as well as the source of his own strength: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life (2 Cor 3:5-6). Paul quickly admitted that his calling, ministry, and strength was solely of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul added that the Lord provides the Spirit, that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty from the bondage of the Jewish law, and that despite the fact that we all do not fully understand the glory of the Lord, we are in fact changed into His image by the power and operation of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 3:17-18).
Paul also referred to his own ministry, and the purity of that ministry. Paul wrote, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the [gospel] word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor 4:1-2). Paul explained that he and his fellow apostles preached not themselves, but Christ Jesus, the Lord, and that he and his fellow apostles were servants of the church in Corinth for the Lord's sake (2 Cor 4:4-5), because it was God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 4:6). Paul added that we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us (2 Cor 4:7). Paul humbly gave God the credit for his ministry and strength, always.
As further evidence of his calling and ministry, the apostle talked about the suffering he experienced in his ministry. Paul explained that he and his fellow apostles were troubled [afflicted, stressed] on every side, yet not distressed, were perplexed [have no way out], but not in despair, were persecuted [pursued and pressured], but not forsaken, and cast down [thrown out, rejected], but not destroyed (2 Cor 4:8-9), always bearing about in the body the dying [humbly submitting to the will] of the Lord Jesus, so that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in and through them (2 Cor 4:10). Paul explained to the church in Corinth the necessity and purpose of his suffering: For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you (2 Cor 4:11-12). The apostle Paul clarified that his submission to the will of Jesus Christ, and the suffering that resulted from that submission, was all for one reason: to bring Christ and life to the believers in Christ at Corinth. With an expression of great love, Paul specifically and clearly told the believers in Corinth why he did what he did: For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (2 Cor 4:15-17). Paul also told the church in Corinth the motivation for why and how he and his fellow apostles did what they did. He explained, we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor 4:18). Paul was focused not on the visible and temporal things of this world, the natural, but on the invisible and eternal, the spiritual.
Paul also wrote the believers in Corinth about his anxieties, fears, and sufferings. Paul clearly knew that he would anger some by his preaching of the gospel, he also knew that he could be killed, but he also knew that if his earthly body was killed, he would be given another building from God, a house not made with hands, but an eternal and heavenly body (2 Cor 5:1). Paul knew the terror [to be afraid of] of the Lord, but added that For whether we be beside [astounded, amazed, lost our sense of normalcy] ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober [of a sound mind], it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth [holds together] us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead (2 Cor 5:13-14). Referring to himself and his fellow workers, Paul said God had given to us the ministry of reconciliation, had committed unto us the word of reconciliation, had made them ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor 5:18-20). Paul also described the struggles, the pain, and sufferings of himself and his fellow apostles as workers together with him [Christ] (2 Cor 6:1) when he added that they were Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving [to stand with] ourselves as the ministers of God, in muchpatience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things (2 Cor 6:3-10).
In an effort to further justify his own salvation, calling, and ministry, the apostle Paul contrasted himself to false apostles, deceitful workers who falsely transform themselves into the apostles of Christ: Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without [besides or apart from the church], that whichcometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches (2 Cor 11:22-28).
In a final effort to testify of his personal relationship with God, as well as the ministry God had entrusted to him, Paul added one more intimate detail about himself. Paul explained: And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given [by God the Father] to me a thorn [annoyance, disability] in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet [to afflict, to chastise, to inflict pain resulting in brokenness and humility] me, lest I should be exalted [to rise, be arrogant] above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong (2 Cor 12:7-10). In order to keep Paul broken, weakened, humble, and therefore responsive to God's guidance, God the Father had given Paul an annoying infirmity or disability, a circumstance which Paul probably rarely revealed.
Paul continued in his effort to convince the Corinthian church of his authenticity and authority, Paul wrote, Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's. For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed: That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters. For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present. For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure [portion, ability, amount] of the rule [boundary or limit of ability and power] which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you. For we stretch not ourselves beyond our measure, as though we reached not unto you: for we are come as far as to you also in preaching the gospel of Christ: Not boasting of things without our measure [beyond our God given abilities], that is, of other men's labours; but having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly, To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand. But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth (2 Cor 10:7-18).
Some of the members of the church at Corinth did not completely believe Paul was sent by God. They wanted proof, or evidence, that God spoke through Paul and that Paul's calling and ministry were legitimate. Paul defended himself by referring to the many experiences he had suffered within his own ministry: his own personal physical, psychological, and emotional sufferings, the purpose of his ministry [which was to help them with their faith and salvation, and to increase their joy], the extent of his own necessary tolerance and forgiveness, his humility and thankfulness, his own personal weaknesses resulting in his total reliance on God's sufficiency, the deprivation and pain he encountered due to the purity of his ministry, his own, personal anxieties and fears, differentiating himself from false disciples and deceitful workers, as well as a difficult confession of a chastisement specifically given to Paul by God the Father. Paul had given them considerable detailed information about the experiences of his own life, calling and ministry, his own anxieties and fears, his own personal suffering and pain.
Finally, the apostle defended his relationship with God, his calling, and his apostleship to the church at Corinth with these words: I am become a fool in glorying [about myself]; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended [approved, accepted] of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing. Truly the signs [indications, evidence] of an apostle [the apostle Paul] were wrought [worked out fully, accomplished] among you in all patience [endurance, constancy], in signs [indicated by observed miracles], and wonders [prodigy, omen], and mighty deeds [ability, abundance, miracles, power, mighty works] (2 Cor 12:11-12). Paul added, I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you [and tell you the truth about yourselves by speech or letters], the less I be loved [by you] (2 Cor 12:15). The more Paul loved and served the Corinthian believers by telling them the truth about themselves, the less they loved him. Paul had also spoken the truth in love (Eph 4:15) to the church in Ephesus, and he was doing the same thing with the church in Corinth. Paul might well have said to the believers in Corinth, as he did to the believers in Galatia (Gal 4:16),Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the [painful] truth? (Gal 4:16).
If these things did not convince the Corinthian believers that Paul was truly called by God, was truly a minister and apostle of the Lord, if these things did not provide proof ofChrist speaking in me, what more could Paul say or do? The apostle had done his best to convince them he truly knew God the Father, and that everything he said and did was legitimately from the heavenly Father. It is almost as if Paul was saying “I have told you so-called believers in Corinth many of the details of my own life and experiences as evidence of my true faith in Christ. If these experiences do not convince you that God is truly working through me, maybe you need to examine yourselves as to whether you truly know God, examine yourselves as to whether you truly understand what it is to be a believer, and examine yourselves as to whether you are truly in the faith.”
The second reason Paul wanted the church at Corinth to examine themselves as to whether they were in the faith was because Paul had become aware of behaviors exhibited by the members of the church which Paul considered inconsistent with the behaviors found in the true believer in Christ. The apostle wanted and needed to confront the church in Corinth with these issues. Paul knew well of the rampant sin in the Corinthian church, and early in his letter, Paul outlined a second purpose in writing to the believers in Corinth: For to this end [purpose] also did I write, that I might know the proof of you [as to whether you are truly in the faith and], whether ye be obedient in all things (2 Cor 2:9). Paul began his critique of the church by instructing them about their need for forgiveness. Paul wrote, So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him (2 Cor 2:7-8). Paul also encouraged the church to accept Paul, his fellow apostles, and their message: We then, as workers together with him [Christ], beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God [which we preach to you] in vain (2 Cor 6:1). The believers in Corinth were also associating with unbelievers, whom Paul considered unclean idolatry: Be ye not unequally yoked [to associate discordantly] together with unbelievers: for what fellowship [intercourse, participation with] hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion [communion and fellowship] hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out [depart, escape, proceed away] from among them, and be ye separate [be divided from, separate from, be severed from, be excluded from] saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean [lewd, foul, demonic] thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty (2 Cor 6:14-18). Paul also addresses their sin when he wrote, Having therefore these promises [of God], dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. Receive us [and the message we bring to you]; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man (2 Cor 7:1-2). Regarding the grace of God, Paul encouraged the church Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also (2 Cor 8:7). Paul immediately added, And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not (2 Cor 8:10-12). Regarding the Corinthian church's need to minister to their fellow saints, Paul reminded the church: this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifull.Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:6-7). After encouraging the church to bountifully give, Paul reminded them of their expected reward: Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;).Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this servicenot only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God (2 Cor 9:10-12).
Again, regarding their disobedience and sin, Paul instructed the Corinthian believers, I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you: But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh.For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled (2 Cor 10:1-6). Paul also was concerned that the church in Corinth was being deceived by those preaching a gospel other than Christ: But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear [accept and adopt another gospel] with him (2 Cor 11:3-4). Additionally, Paul warned the Corinthian church about those who would preach another gospel other than Christ: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works (2 Cor 11:13-15). Paul then gave them the reason why he was concerned for them, why he had warned them about these false apostles: For ye suffer fools gladly, seeing [believing] ye yourselves are wise [practical, intelligent in the ways of the world, all-knowing, cunning]. For ye suffer [permit it], if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face (2 Cor 11:19-20). Paul's final instruction to the believers in Corinth was, however, full of love and encouragement: Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect [changed, complete, mended, restored], be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Greet one another with an holy kiss. All the saints salute you (2 Cor 13:11-13).
Paul instructed the believers in Corinth to examine themselves to determine if they were in the true faith of Christ. All believers in Christ should examine themselves as well. If believers in Christ are to examine themselves, and we are, as to whether they are truly in the faith, how are we to do that? What is the evidence, the indication, the fruit, of true faith? What measures do we use to judge if we are true Christians? Here are some of the criteria to determine if we are in the true Christian faith, but, by no means, all.
First of all, if we are truly in the faith, we must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Heb 11:6). Christ told His disciples, Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me (John 14:1). Scriptures instruct us Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets (Luk 6:23).
True believers also know that there is only one way of salvation, and that is through faith in Christ: This [Jesus Christ of Nazareth] is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12). Christ told the Jewish leaders, Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life (John 5:39-40).
One must also have had confession and belief; there is no salvation without confession of Christ and belief in the Holy Spirit. Paul instructed the Roman believers, and us, That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead [via the power of the Holy Spirit], thou shalt be saved (Rom 10:9).
Those that are truly Christ's and destined for eternal life will hear His voice and follow Him, not men: My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand (John 10:27-28).
True believers in the faith understand, accept, and expect the operation of the Holy Spirit in their lives: And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you (John 14:16-17). If we think we are true believers in Christ yet we do not have the presence and working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we should closely examine ourselves.Regarding the presence and operation of the Holy Spirit within the believer, Paul clearly warned, But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Rom 8:9). Those who have the Holy Spirit will also bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Paul wrote the Galatian believers about the fruit of the Spirit: the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another (Gal 5:22-26).
True believers will also have fellowship with fellow believers, with God the Father, and with Jesus Christ: That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3). As John taught, those in the faith will have no interest in or love for the world and it's ways: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (1 John 2:15-16); For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even [specifically] our faith (1 John 5:4).
True believers in Christ acknowledge and confess their sins. Paul taught the Roman believers, For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23), as well as Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Rom 5:12). John wrote, If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9).
The true believers will also pursue, to the best of their ability and strength, a pure and holy life. The apostle John clearly taught every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him (1 John 3:3-6). Peter wrote, But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (1 Pet 1:15) and Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness (2 Peter 3:11). God tells us, Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God (Lev 20:7), as well as, ...Be ye holy; for I am holy (1 Peter 1:16). Because we resist sin, our heart should not condemn us: And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God (1 John 3:19-21).
The true believer in Christ does not love the world. Holy scriptures instruct us, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever (1 John 2:15-17).
True believers in Christ will have sacrificial love for fellow believers: We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:14-16).
The true believer in Christ can also expect to suffer: The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together (Rom 8:16-17). Paul taught the Roman believers that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom 8:18).
True believers will understand that they can not trust in themselves or other men, but trust only in God: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead (2 Cor 1:9), and such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God (2 Cor 3:4-5).
The true believer in Christ will also have a deep, abiding love for God. God instructs us thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might (Deu 6:5), and if any man love God, the same is known of him (1 Cor 8:3). The apostle John added, Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not (1 John 3:1). In fact, We love him, because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).
The true believer will also love his fellow disciples and man: For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another (1 John 3:11). Christ instructed his own disciples,A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (John 13:34-35).
As time goes by, believers should also become more and more like His image through the influence, working, and guidance of the Holy Spirit (Cor 3:18). Paul taught that, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new (2 Cor 5:17). Holy Scriptures teach us, Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Cor 3:17-18). Paul taught the believers in Colossae, Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (Col 3:9-10), and the believers in Rome, For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:29).
True believers will also understand and acknowledge that our salvation is only accomplished by the grace of God, and not by our works or efforts: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph 2:8-10). Peter told those in Jerusalem, we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved ...(Act 15:11), while Paul wrote believers in Rome, Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Rom 5:1-2). Paul also taught that God has predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace (Eph 1:5-7). Paul wrote the Thessalonian believers, Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work (2 Thes 2:16-17). Peter wrote, Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:13), and later added, But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you (1 Pet 5:10).
The apostle John taught that the true believer in Christ know that God the Father has given us eternal life though our faith: He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life (1 John 5:10-12). Christ specifically taught that the true believer has heard the gospel word and believes in God the Father: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life (John 5:24).
John also taught that those who truly are in the faith shall keep the commandments of God: And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked (1 John 2:3-6). Christ taught a correlation between loving Christ and keeping His commandments: If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15) and If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love (John 15:10).
The apostle John clearly taught that Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him (1 John 2:2-4).
True believers in Christ will also bear fruit, as scriptures plainly teach. Paul wrote Roman believers,Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death (Rom 7:4-5). Christ required fruit bearing of His disciples, because Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples [when you bear fruit] (John 15:8). Regarding the Philippian believers, Paul wrote, ...I desire fruit that may abound to your account (Php 4:17). Scriptures teach us that no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby (Heb 12:11). We also know that false ministers bear either bad fruit or no fruit at all, and, therefore,Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots (Jude 1:11-12). Regarding believers, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph 2:8-10). True faith results in works: Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works (James 2:17-18).The true believer in Christ will not only bear fruit, but bear good fruit, since every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh (Luke 6:44-45). Bearing fruit, in fact, is not only desired by God, but required with God: ...every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire (Luke 3:9).
If believers are truly in the Christian faith, and have eternal life as a result of that faith, how do we know that for sure? Because the scriptures tell us how we can be sure. Connecting our faith in the Father and the Son with eternal life, the apostle John wrote Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even [specifically] eternal life (1 John 2:22-25).
The apostle John provides us with invaluable information and teaching about how to know that we have salvation and eternal life. John wrote, He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:10-13). Our witness, or evidence, that we are in the faith and have eternal life is that we believe on the Son of God, on the Messiah, on Jesus Christ. John clearly wrote, he that hath the Son hath life. When we have Christ, we also have the Holy Spirit living within us, we have eternal life. Paul taught the Romans, For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together (Rom 8:14-17).
Likewise, Paul taught the believers in Galatia, For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal 3:26-29) and because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ (Gal 4:6-7). The believer, who has Christ within themselves, shall certainly inherit all things: ...I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son (Rev 21:6-7). Speaking to Ephesian church elders, Paul taught the clear relationship between true faith in Christ and eternal life: And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the [gospel] word of his grace [salvation through faith in Christ], which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified (Acts 20:32). Peter also knew and taught the relationship between having Christ in us and eternal salvation: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope [of eternal life] by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith [in Christ] unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5). Jesus attempted to instruct the Jewish church leaders that salvation is available, not through the scriptures, but through faith in Christ. Jesus told them, Search the scriptures; for in them ye [mistakenly] think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life (John 5:39-40). Paul wrote Titus, Not by [our own efforts and] works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace [salvation through faith in Christ], we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:5-7).
When Paul instructed the Corinthian believers in Christ to examine themselves to see if they were truly in the faith, he asked them more pointedly the central criteria for that examination when he wrote, Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates [unapproved, rejected by God]?(2 Cor 13:5).  AMEN.
TCH Mini-
                    A Judeo-Christian Bible Study
"My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance"
(Psalms 42:3-5).