2.5 Minute Read

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”

1 John 5:13

As I write these words, I am sitting in the “Bible Belt” of East Tennessee. If you were to sample the average person in the “Bible Belt” and ask that person if he or she considered himself a “Christian”, a great many would confidently reply in the affirmative. Sadly, many of these same people show no evidence of having ever been “saved” or having Christ in their lives. They claim the name of Christ, but in reality, their desires and actions are no different than the lost sinner who is far from Jesus.

Jesus Christ said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Rather, many people–even many who did “good things” in Jesus’s name–will hear “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

We’ve all heard of someone making the mistake of assuming his or her health, just to hear horrific news. I assume my health one day, and the next day I find out I have a dreaded disease (a far too frequent occurrence); But, it is a far greater mistake to wrongly assume the eternal destination of your soul.

So, how do you know with certainty that you are saved? Well, let’s look at the first of several descriptions John lays out to help people know with certainty whether or not they have eternal life. These are not qualifications for becoming a follower of Christ (they won’t save you!), but only descriptions of what a true follower of Christ looks like.

A True Christ-follower Walks in the Light

“God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all”  (1 John 1:1)

To prevent us from missing the significance of this, John expounds on this truth a few verses later saying, “If we say we have fellowship with Him (a relationship with Jesus) 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 Christ cleanses us from our sin.” (1 John 1:5-7)

Here is John’s point: darkness and light cannot coexist in harmony. You are either walking in darkness or you are walking in the light. God is light and so His children will walk in the light. 

If you are a follower of Christ, there will be evidence and “fruit” in your life that confirms this. If you are walking in darkness then you are not a child of God, but rather a “son of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2-3) and there will be little evidence of Christ in your life.

Imagine you wake up one morning and look outside to see an apple tree with one ripe apple.  Would you expect this healthy apple tree to only ever produce one apple? Absolutely not! You would expect it to eventually produce more fruit. And after a few months, you would expect there to be an abundance of fruit.1

This is the same for the follower of Christ. When someone is saved from his or her sins and the Holy Spirit enters his life, we would expect to see “fruit” or evidence of this. One of the surest signs of an authentic follower of Christ is that the person’s desires are more like God’s than they were before. Where this person once hated God’s law and commands, he or she now delights to do the will of God (Psalm 40:8; John 4:34). Where a friend once had no concern for people far from Christ, her heart now breaks for them. Apart from knowing Christ, these are unimaginable and impossible feats

A wise pastor named Matthew Henry once said, “He [the Christian] has a new heart and nature, a new love, disposition, and delight, and is not the man that he formerly was.”2

In summary, a true Christ-follower walks in the light as Christ is in the light. This process of change may sometimes be slow, but should absolutely be evident over the long haul.

Read Part 2: “A True Christ-Follower Obeys God’s Commandments


  1. I originally heard this analogy from Mark Dever
  2. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1994, 2455)