As believers, Scripture tells us that the only way for us to know the genuine nature of a person’s faith is by the fruit that each person produces (Matthew 7:20). That is a topic for another post maybe. But if you are anything like me, maybe you struggle at times to know if your own faith is genuine. Some people call this struggle doubt.
I have often sat with a young person or a lady with my Bible open sharing passages of Scripture that help dispel those doubts and instead instill assurance and confidence in a genuine believer. Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to tell you whether you are saved or not. That is between you and your Savior. But what I want to share in this series will walk us through one of the best books of the New Testament to help a person determine whether his faith is genuine or not.
Maybe the result of this series will be like mine. When I study this book, my faith finds solid footing in the truths of God’s Word and in the personal evidence of my genuine saving faith. On the other hand, maybe you will find that this blog post shines the spotlight on your soul to prove to yourself that your faith is, indeed, fake. In either case, my prayer for you as we begin this series is that God will confirm these things in you and that His precious Holy Spirit will encourage you in your faith or else draw you to a genuine saving faith in Him. So, let’s jump into the book of 1 John!
Before we begin the list of evidences I have promised you, let me say that this is not a futile exercise. Paul admonished the church at Corinth and us as well that we should examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5a). The unifying theme of John’s letter to believers in the first century can be found in 1 John 5:13 – “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.” With all the false teachers and fakes out there, John wanted the recipients of this letter to possess an assurance of genuine faith. So let’s see where he starts in 1 John 1.
"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete.
1. Personal Acceptance (1:1-4)
The first evidence of genuine faith is a personal acceptance of the Gospel that produces joy in the life of the believer. John was sharing some of his first-hand experience and reminding the readers of this letter that the One Who had walked among them and with Whom they had a personal relationship was the One to Whom he was pointing people to believe. Verse 3 explains that those who have personally accepted Christ enjoy fellowship with other believers as well as with God the Father. Those with genuine faith will seek out the fruit of that personal acceptance through fellowship with God by time spent in His Word and in prayer with Him and through fellowship with other believers. This personal acceptance produces joy in the life of the believer and is another reason John wrote this letter (v. 4). So, from the outset here, I must ask you – have you personally accepted the Lord as your Savior? If not, please reach out to us at Instaencouragements or to someone you know who does know the Lord, and get that matter settled today!
2. Practical Fellowship (1:5-7)
John continues in this chapter with another evidence of genuine faith by describing the practical fellowship you will seek when you are a believer. John is very direct in these verses about those who say one thing and do another (v. 6). God is the Light that exposes us when we fall into this sin (v. 5). But this passage is not all negative. Verse 7 begins with that about-face “but” if we are walking with Him and seeking fellowship with Him, we have forgiveness of sin and open fellowship with God. See genuine faith is perfect, but it recognizes that God desires fellowship with us that is pure even in motive. We can’t say we want fellowship with God and live like the world and expect Him to be ok with that. Genuine faith runs to Christ for forgiveness which is always granted and is blessed with fellowship as well. Do you have that practical fellowship that God desires to have with His children?
3. Personal Purity (1:8-10)
John uses a couple more strong “if/then” statements here. He recognizes again that we are not perfect in this walk with God, and we have a tendency to deceive even ourselves by saying that we don’t sin (v. 8). When we live in that state of self-deception, we are missing out on the personal purity God promises us in the famous verse – 1 John 1:9. Maybe we use this with unbelievers to explain that God will take their sin from them if they will confess it. And that is not wrong, but this verse in its context is for believers. Friend, do you realize the treasure of this verse? If we are willing to agree with God about our sin, that means forsaking our own self-deception, He promises to ALWAYS forgive us! And to make us pure once again. John takes it even one step further in verse 10 when he turns back to the negative and says that when we deny our sin then we make Him a liar! Maybe your doubts about your genuine faith come from unconfessed sin in your life or by resting on self-deception. I can’t speak for you, but I know that when I allow my own heart to deceive itself, I willfully give up the personal purity so wonderfully promised me in 1 John 1:9. What a tragic way for a believer to live!
How is your faith holding up to these initial checks of genuineness? Have you seen some areas where you have some things to shore up? The beauty of our faith is that it doesn’t rest on us. We have the example of the One who never fails to follow. Maybe you have realized that your faith is, indeed, fake. May I again encourage you today to call out to the Lord in repentance and genuine faith and trust Him personally! Over my next few posts, we will continue through the book of 1 John and closely examine the genuine nature of our faith. I hope you will come along on this journey!
How is your faith holding up to these initial checks of genuineness?
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