In my personal Bible study I am going through, slowly, the first epistle of John. Today I wrapped up chapter 3. I was struck by the clarity for having assurance that I am a child of God. It is spelled clearly and repeatedly. Here is how chapter 3 says we know we are children of God:
- v.14 – “We know that we have passed from death into life, because we love the brethern. He who does not love abides in death.“
The question naturally arises then, “what does loving the brethern look like? And how do I know if I’m loving them?” Both are really good questions answered by the Apostle.
- v.16 – “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethern. (17) But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?“
Loving the brethern looks like the sacrificial love given by the example of Jesus Christ. He gave everything for the benefit of others. I know then that I love my brothers if I:
- v.18 – “Little children, let us not love with word or tongue, but in deed and truth. (19) We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before Him.”
Is there anything else that gives me evidence that I am a child of God, beside practically applying the sacrificial love demonstrated by Jesus in my life? Yes! The Apostle goes on to say at the end of the chapter:
- v.24 – “And the one who keeps His commandment abides in Him, and He in him. And we know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.“
The other clear marker of being a child of God is our obedience to the commands that God has given us. It must be a driving force in our lives, this desire to obey God. Are we always successful? No, but it is the characteristic of our lives.
My thoughts in summary: If you are not being obedient to the commands of God as you have learned and known them, and those commands are not resulting in tangible works of love to other believers, you have every right to question your faith. If it is not the over-arching desire to be obedient and loving, then are you a child of God? The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to test yourself, examine yourself, to see if you are in the faith.
Here is a relevant video by John Piper on the need for pastors to be proclaiming this truth: