How Does One Know That He Is a "Genuine Believer?
David V. Hurst
Imitations exist today on every hand; imitation gold, imitation leather, imitation flavors, the list is endless. The same thing is true of religion. We are aware that imitation religions exist on every street corner. However, is it possible that in the pews of those who call themselves after Christ, that imitations are there as well?
Self-examination is critical for the faithful child of God. He must continually scrutinize his life to avoid having a counterfeit faith. The genuine believer is not content with "occupying space" in a building during Sunday mornings but pursues his desire to be a "real" Christian. Peter offers tangible suggestions whereby we can confirm our claim as a believer in God (1 Pet. 1). Let us study these together as we remember the admonition of Paul, "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves" (2 Cor. 13:5, NIV). How may we distinguish the "genuine" from the "imitation"? What are characteristics and attitudes of the genuine believer?
The genuine believer in God is sanctified by the Spirit of God. "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied" (KJV 1 Pet. 1:2). The idea of being sanctified is that one is set apart for the special purpose of glorifying God. How is this accomplished?
The apostles were told to preach "repentance and forgiveness" when the power of the Spirit came (Luke 24:46-49). That power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8) came in Acts 2 after which men were baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Therefore, they were then set apart from the world; that is, they received the sanctification of the Spirit (Acts 2:47).
The genuine believer in God is a redeemed person through the sprinkling of the blood of Christ (1 Pet. 1:2,18,19). He had been a slave to sin (Rom. 6:16-18) but now is made free (Jn. 8:32) by the blood of Christ. As a former slave, he appreciates the ransom paid to set him free!
The genuine believer calls upon God with the knowledge that his father will judge him in the last day (1 Pet. 1:17). His prayers are serious. One does not fool God. "Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things (are) naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do" (Heb. 4:13, KJV).
The genuine believer in God is a child of obedience (1 Pet. 1:2,14). When one thinks of a child, it will have certain characteristics depending upon its parents. For example, the "child" of a dog will most likely bark, have a tail and four legs. "Children" of obedience are those whose "habit" and "characteristics" coincide with being "doers of the word, and not hearers only" (Jas. 1:22).
The genuine believer has his loins gird about with truth (1 Pet. 1:13; cf. Eph. 6:14). This is the figure of one who takes the long flowing garment he is wearing and tucks up its fullness into his waste belt so it will not hinder him in his task. He is preparing himself for the toil ahead. He is diligent in preparation (2 Tim. 2:15, ASV).
The genuine believer is one who endeavors to be holy as God is holy (1 Pet. 1:15,16). This is the intent of the religion of Christ. Our aspirations are to think, talk, and act like God. With each passing day we progress closer to being perfect as God is perfect and to being pure as God is pure. We yearn to allow God to live through us (Gal. 2:20).
The genuine believer possesses a living hope which anchors his life (1 Pet. 1:3). Without this, one will not fight as hard as he should (Rev. 2:10). This is the major thrust of the entire epistle of 1 Peter.
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 15, p. 462-463
The genuine believer does not fashion his life through the lusts of this world in ignorance (I Pet. 1: 14). The way one talks, dresses and even his entertainment is fashioned after the society he lives in. The believer in God refuses to be like the world but transforms himself into being like God (Rom. 12:1,2).
The genuine believer is sober (I Pet. 1: 13). He is sensible and level headed. His right thinking will not allow him to be side tracked from the reward he desires and expects to receive. He is self-controlled in his life rather than his life controlling him.
The genuine believer purifies his soul (I Pet. 1:22). He has made his life sinless not because he is perfect, but because he has repented and confessed his wrong. When he fails, he continues to confess and repent asking for forgiveness that the blood of Christ will cleanse (purify) his soul (I Jn. 1:8).
The genuine believer loves his brethren with a love that is unfeigned (1 Pet. 1:22). His love for others in Christ will not be with pretense or hypocrisy, but in sincerity. It is a love that is manifested in his actions.
The genuine believer sojourns in this life (I Pet. 1: 1, 17).
He realizes he is an alien in this world. If he allows this world to infatuate him, it will be reflected in his life. It is futile to concentrate on making this world so comfortable when one's real home is in another world.
The genuine believer is willing to go through trials of hardship (I Pet. 1:7) because he has kept his faith strong. He will put his trust in God and remember his hope (Rev. 2: 10). He esteems his blessings in God far more than the perishables in this world.
A "real" believer is one that fears God (I Pet. 1: 17). He recognizes that God is his judge. He reverences and respects God's Word. He understands that God is a consuming fire (Heb. 10:29) and that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10: 3 1). He therefore lives in the favor of God so that God in turn will protect him (I Pet 1: 5).