What does it mean to truly be saved? What are the evidences of authentic conversion? How do you know if you’re truly a disciple of Christ? Jesus gives us the answer in John 8:31-36 by providing three evidences of true salvation.
First, genuine evidence of salvation means that if you claim to be a Christian you abide in the Word. John 8:31–32 reads, “So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” Notice the “if…then” construction of Jesus’ statement. If you abide in His word, then you are truly His disciple. So the key question then is this: What does it mean to abide in His Word?
The word “abide” means to “remain, continue, hold onto”. To live in His word. To hold fast and commit to His Word.
The Bible addresses this issue of abiding or meditating or holding fast to God’s Word. Joshua 1:8: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Colossians 3:16: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Are you letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly? Are you abiding in the Word? James 1:22: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
Fundamentally, here’s what it means to abide in Jesus’ Word. It means that you delight and enjoy reading God’s Word, studying God’s Word, meditating on God’s Word, memorizing God’s Word, and ultimately obeying God’s Word in every area of your life. Does this passion for God’s Word describe you? Or are you bored with God’s Word? Do you rarely pick up your Bible except for when you come to church? Do you have a daily time alone with God where you read His Word?
The second evidence Jesus provides for genuine salvation is that you know the truth.Do you know the truth of who Jesus is? Have you come to grips with the truth that He is more than just a good teacher or a moral example or a traveling miracle worker. Do you realize that He is God in the flesh? That He is the eternal Christ. That He is the Sovereign Lord.
One of the key evidences that you’re saved is that you know and love the truth. You are not swayed by falsehoods. You have sound theology. You are discerning. You are not easily manipulated to believe heresy.
Are you growing in your knowledge of the truth? 1 Timothy 4:1 reads, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.” Hebrews 5:14 says, “But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Are you able to distinguish good from evil and truth from error by constantly practicing discernment? There is a direct correlation to abiding in the word and growing in knowledge of the truth. The more you abide in the Word, the more you know the truth and are not influenced by false teaching.
Third, Jesus gives another evidence of true salvation in that you experience spiritual freedom from sin. John 8:34 reads, “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.’” It is very important to understand how Jesus uses words. When He says “practices” sin the Greek verb is in a present tense which means a continual state of sin. He’s not talking about specific sins per se but more of a lifestyle or habitual condition of unrepentant sin. Here’s the truth: If you continue in a lifestyle of unrepentant, habitual sin you are in bondage to that sin. You’re a slave to sin. That sinful lifestyle keeps you enslaved to idolatry and it is miserable. If you continue in a lifestyle of unrepentant habitual sin, you will die in your sins and experience hell. You will die a slave to sin forever.
Here’s the overwhelming problem: You and I cannot release ourselves from slavery. We cannot do anything in our power to free ourselves from bondage. That is why Jesus says in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Jesus, as the Son of God, must set you free. When you come to Him in repentance and faith and trust Him to forgive you and cast yourself totally upon Him as your only hope of salvation, He in His wonderful grace rescues you from bondage. The Son sets you free!
If you claim to be a Christian, then Jesus gives three evidences of fruit that must consistently be on display in your life. Do you abide in the Word? Are you growing in the knowledge of the truth? Are you quick to confess and repent of sin? The converse is also true: If you are NOT abiding in the Word, and you are NOT growing in the truth, and you are ENSLAVED to habitual, unrepentant sin, then it is a high probably that you may not truly be saved. Examine yourselves today to see if you are in the faith!