What are some of the signs of genuine saving faith?

Asking yourself, "Am I really saved?" is a scary and sometimes lonely question. Many who struggle with the validity of salvation feel like that their uncertainty makes them "bad Christians." They may question if they're even Christians at all. They may have been told, "If you truly meant your confession of sin to Jesus and asked Him to save you, then you're fine." But what does that mean? How do we know if we "truly" meant it?

Thankfully, the Bible gives us more assurance than these shallow platitudes! The safety of our soul is something we don't want to just "hope for the best" on. Our God is the God of renewal and new beginnings, and He provided His Word to help us understand our security in His love. God's gift of salvation isn't just the "safe zone" for our souls, where, if we do the right things and say the right prayers, we're in and good to go. Instead, it's a transformative process—a metamorphosis of our desires, our way of living, our very souls (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We have a few questions that can help you examine your own faith (2 Corinthians 13:5), but this list is not exhaustive regarding signs of genuine faith. We recommend you read the entire book of 1 John to get the best insights on having an assurance of salvation, as it was written for that specific purpose (1 John 5:13).

1. Do you desire and pursue Christlikeness?

"If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." —1 John 1:6-7

To be a Christian is to be a follower of Christ. Ephesians 5:1-2 says, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." Jesus Christ was the ultimate role model for how to live as children of God.

Jesus has beautiful compassion (John 5:1-13), a pure sense of justice (Matthew 21:12-17), He's self-sacrificing in more ways than one (John 17), He loves deeply and completely (Romans 8:39), and Jesus defined grace and truth (John 1:14). While we'll never be able to achieve perfect Christlikeness in this lifetime, seeking to become more like Him in our choices, desires, and love is a sign of a regenerate heart (1 John 2:29).

2. Do you talk to God about the ugly things?

We may be new creations in Christ, and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we're no longer slaves to sin, but we still don't always say no to harmful things (2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 1:8; Romans 5-6). We sometimes struggle with habitual sins or give in to temptations.

When we sin, it's vital we talk to God about it in prayer. Listen to Him through His Word and the Holy Spirit. Ask Him for help. Tell Him how you're feeling—even if you're angry at Him. Confess your sins and ask Him to forgive you. Ask for help to overcome whatever that struggle is. God can handle anything you throw at Him (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Yes, God already knows everything, but He desires healthy relationships, and sin separates us from Him (Psalm 32:5). God won't rub our mistakes in our faces; rather, He restores our relationship with Him by wiping our hearts clear of guilt and shame with forgiveness and empowering us with His strength (Philippians 4:13; 1 John 1:9, 3:3).

3. Is your life showing Fruits of the Spirit?

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, the faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." —Galatians 5:22-23

The Fruit of the Spirit refers to the "results" we should see in our lives after receiving the Holy Spirit and "tending" to our hearts over time (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13-14). These are virtues planted and watered by the Holy Spirit. Many believers may be stronger in one area than another, but they all should still strive to develop and mature in at least some of these traits.

Maybe you have a really hard time exercising self-control, yet you're incredibly patient with your siblings. Maybe you have a quick temper, but you're also a very joyful person otherwise. Search your heart for ways you live your life according to what you believe (1 John 3:18-19).

4. Do you have love for others?

This is a tough question sometimes, as most people have at least a few people they don't want to be around or show love toward. For those who have suffered spiritual abuse, loving "your brothers" (1 John 3:14) can be a serious challenge. But even when we have good reasons for avoiding certain individuals, we can still love them through prayer and ask God for healing in our lives—and theirs.

Additionally, we can ask God for wisdom in establishing healthy boundaries to protect our hearts and identify our biblical responsibilities while still showing love and respect. (Also see: What does the Bible say about dealing with toxic / abusive people / relationships?

Give Yourself Some Grace

If you have a tendency toward perfectionism, you may be panicking right now, thinking, "But I struggle to love other Christians." Or "I can't get excited about reading the Bible." Or "I get really angry and impatient." Or "I'm so insensitive to the needy." Or "There's no way I can do all this!"

OK. Those are valid fears. But stop for a minute. Let me encourage you in this moment.

No one will achieve perfect Christlikeness in this lifetime.

These questions and "signs of faith" are NOT rules you should be checking off so you can say, "I made it!" Your answers to these questions simply help indicate if your heart's goals and motives are aligned (or seeking to be aligned) with those of Christ. Even the apostle Paul struggled with sin constantly, so you're not alone!

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” —Romans 7:18-20

We repeat: No one will achieve perfect Christlikeness in this lifetime. No one.

Our salvation comes not by what we do but by God's grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). That said, our words, actions, thoughts, motivations, and desires should show signs of God's goodness and good works—even if we struggle to do so every day (James 2:17-18). It's a very subtle distinction, but a very important one! Our good works are not a spiritual "requirement" but rather a natural result of our faith and commitment to follow Christ.

Welcome to the Spiritual Battlefield

"Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." —1 Peter 5:8

The Christian walk isn't an easy one. Many things may trip us up—sinful temptations, deception by the enemy, a church with false theology that makes us doubt God's promises (1 John 4). Satan will take any chance to tempt us into doubting God will rescue us. But Satan is a liar, and he has no power over you (John 8:44; James 4:7). (Also see: What is the full armor of God?)

If you have doubts about your faith, bring them before God. If you're fearful about your salvation, bring that fear before God. If you're confused, lost, unsure—take it all to God (1 Peter 5:6-7). Find a trusted friend and give them permission to challenge you to live out your faith and encourage them to do the same (Proverbs 27:17!

The Christian life is a transformative journey that should always be changing, growing, stretching, and challenging you. Living out your faith is a process full of both good and difficult things. Be assured that nothing will take away God's love or your gift of salvation, but strive for Christlikeness in everything you do (Galatians 2:20).

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." —Romans 8:38-39

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." —2 Corinthians 5:17



"Am I really saved?" is a scary question. Thankfully, the Bible provides ways to "test" our faith. Read 1 John as it was written specifically to help believers with assurance of their salvation (1 John 5:13). What it comes down to striving for Christlikeness. While we'll never achieve perfect Christlikeness in our lifetime, seeking to become more like Him in our choices, desires, and love is a sign of a regenerate heart (1 John 2:29). Our good works are not a "requirement" but rather a result of our faith and commitment to follow Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; James 2:17-18). Though you'll struggle with sin throughout this life (Romans 7), be assured that nothing will take away God's love or your gift of salvation and strive for Christlikeness in everything you do (Galatians 2:20; Romans 8:38-39; 1 Peter 5:6-7).

Writer/Editor: September Grace

September is an avid film nerd from growing up on weekend trips to Universal Studios Hollywood. She is passionate about the intersections of Christian spirituality, faith, and storytelling in popular culture. Outside of 412teens and digging up obscure horror flicks from the 2000s, she works as a freelance developmental editor and acquisitions consultant while comforting her clingy feline floof, Faust, from the anxiety of existence.

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