- Ezra Institute - https://www.ezrainstitute.ca -

Tests of a Truly Christian Life

The test of true religion is not private spiritual experiences, theological orthodoxy, or participation in the visible church. Our assurance of salvation increases with our obedience in heart, mind, and soul, loving God and seeking his commandments.

  1. John wrote his gospel that men might believe in Jesus and have life (Jn. 20:31). God is light and life manifested in the person of Jesus; Jesus is the historical manifestation of the eternal God.
  2. If our joy is to be complete, we, like John, need to share and proclaim the gospel (1 Jn. 1:2-4).
  3. In this letter John is responding to various heretical ideas within the early church.
  4. In Greek thought there was a radical rift between form and matter; eternal/temporal; spirit/body; mortal/immortal.
  5. The Greeks viewed the body as a prison for the soul; to be saved was to transcend the temporal into the eternal realm of spirit.
  6. The false dualism of the Greeks contaminated early Christian thought, and still affects the church today.
  7. The gospel of Jesus was an offense to the Greeks. The man Jesus claims to be divine, an unthinkable idea to the Greek mind. It was considered absurd that God would raise a corpse and by Him judge the world (Acts 17:32).
  8. Our culture seeks to find the divine by various pagan forms of spirituality. With this new esoteric “enlightenment” there is a new ethic which rejects God’s law.
  9. To test true spirituality, John gives the test of obedience and the test of love.
  10. If you claim to have the light of God, you will walk in obedience and love your neighbour.
  11. If you claim to know Him and don’t obey the commandments, you lie to yourself.
  12. Gnostic thought claimed divinity through enlightenment, and therefore thought that what was done in and with the body was unimportant; but genuine faith is expressed in the totality of our lives.
  13. The love of God is complete in those who walk in obedience. As we walk in obedience God’s love matures in us.
  14. The test of true religion is not private spiritual experiences, theological orthodoxy, or participation in the visible church. Our assurance of salvation increases with our obedience in heart, mind, and soul loving God and seeking His commandments.
  15. God’s love for us is a gift; our love for God is a “need love;” as spiritual beggars we ask God for forgiveness and seek His help and guidance.
  16. Our joyful delight in God is reflected in rejoicing in God’s moral character and His commands (cf. Psalm 119). God’s character traits are all to our benefit.
  17. Authentic spiritual life starts with surrendered obedience to God in heart, mind, soul and strength.
  18. Our culture reverses this, seeking an esoteric spiritual experience as a condition of their intended piety.
  19. Knowledge of God cannot be abstracted from ethics.
  20. We experience a deep spiritual experience as God makes His home in us.
  21. The social test of authentic faith is whether you love one another.
  22. The command to love is old (cf. Deut. 6:5; Lev. 19:18), but it is renewed and given greater significance in Christ (Jn. 13:34).
  23. All spiritual darkness is passing away (1 Cor. 7:31) because the true light is already shining, i.e. a people walking as Jesus walked.
  24. To harbour animosity toward a fellow believer is to participate in darkness.
  25. By living in love you give no cause for stumbling for yourself or others. You obey God with respect to your brothers and do not harbour bitterness or animosity.

Application Questions:

  1. Identify false tests of true religion popular today.
  2. What are the biblical tests of genuine faith in God?
  3. How is your spiritual life? Do you delight in Christ? Do you want to be like Him? Do you want to walk as He walked? Do you delight in His commandments?
  4. Review the characteristics of biblical love from 1 Cor. 13.