How Can One Be Sure That He Has Been Born Again?
How can one be sure that he is born again and a child of God?
That is an important question. The Scriptures call every believer to take that question seriously and to ask it. Read 2 Peter 1:10. There we are admonished to make our calling and election sure. In 2 Corinthians 13:4-5 we read that we are to prove our own selves. We are to look for the evidences of the grace of God within our souls.
Now, how are we sure that we are born again?
We must especially be delivered from all deception and all false security in this sense. We must have a genuine confidence and assurance that we are children of God, born of the grace of God, born not, as we read in John 1, of the will of man, but of the will of God.
Now, how do we know that?
How do we know that we are truly born of God?
The work of God always leaves marks. That is true in human life. A skillful work leaves the print and the mark of the author. So also the work of being born again leaves with us certain marks (certain fruits, the Bible says, certain evidences) that God has indeed worked in our hearts.
What are those evidences?
I believe there are especially three. If you want to see all three of them in two verses, turn to Romans 7:24-25, where the apostle says, “O wretched man that I am! (there is the first mark: the knowledge of sin) who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (There is the second mark: a desire and need for deliverance.) I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (there is the third mark: a thankfulness to God for salvation).
These are the three marks or evidences of regeneration, that is, three ways whereby we know that the Spirit of God has worked His true work in our hearts and has united us to our Savior.
The first. There will be in us a sorrow for sin. That sorrow for sin is not simply a knowledge of what sin is. And it is not simply an ability to spot sin in others.
Sorrow for sin is a knowledge of sin according to which one sees that the biggest letter in the word sin is the middle one.
Do you know how to spell sin?
Some people spell the word sin s-u-n. That spells sun, the sun in the sky. S-u (over there)-n. But that is not the way the child of God spells sin. He spells it: s-I-n. So, first of all, the Holy Spirit works in us a knowledge of our own sin – not simply a conception of sin generally, but a knowledge of my own personal sin – and that knowledge of my own personal sin as I have sinned before the living God, that God revealed in the Scriptures.
Let me read some Scripture to you. This is characteristic of every child of God. Isaiah 6:5. Listen to Isaiah, when he was given to see the vision of God in His glory: “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
Isaiah was truly brought to see God.
What was the evidence of that?
The evidence of it was that he saw himself mirrored over against God as a sinner. We read in Luke 5:8, “When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
In Psalm 51:3-4, David says, “I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.”
So the first mark of a true work of God’s grace in our hearts, of being born again, is the knowledge of sin and a sorrow for that sin as committed against God. It is a sorrow which brings (2 Corinthians 7:10) repentance, a turning, an abhorring, a desire to be delivered from those sins that formerly seemed not so great, but now as we see them in the light of God are horrendously large.
There is another evidence. And that evidence is this: there is not only a knowledge of sin, but a knowledge that it is Jesus Christ who alone can take away and deliver me from my sins. It is a knowledge (now listen carefully) that it is only Jesus in His work upon the cross that can remove my sins. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For he (God) hath made him (Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Not our own works. Not our own will. None of these atoned or washed away sin. No, the knowledge of a regenerated believer is that Christ has removed that sin in His one work upon Calvary’s cross. Ephesians 1:7, “In whom (in Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sin, according to the riches of his grace.”
Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”
The third mark of regeneration is a desire to live a holy life. Knowing his sin, knowing his great deliverance in Jesus Christ, the believer, the regenerated child of God, wants to live a holy life. Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
Paul says, I press on. I press on after that calling which is given to me in Jesus Christ, the calling to be conformed to Him in all of my thinking, all of my desiring, all of my longing. Paul there acknowledges that he has not apprehended this. He acknowledges that there still remains much sin in him. That is emphasized repeatedly in the Bible: Ephesians 4:22-24 and other passages. We have that old man of sin in us. But the believer now desires to put that off and to live unto his God with all praise and thanksgiving.
What are the marks of being born again?
Sorrow for sin before God. Trust and faith given of God that Jesus Christ alone makes us whole in the sight of God. And, number three, a desire to live the holy life.
Are these things, not perfectly, but are these things written upon your heart?
It is Holy Spirit who is the author of that writing. That is the work of regeneration.
By Carl Haak