This is one of the most important questions in the Christian life. Many  believers doubt their salvation because they don’t see signs of genuine faith in  their lives. There are those who say we should never doubt our decision to  follow Christ, but the Bible encourages us to examine ourselves to see if we are  truly “in the faith” (2  Corinthians 13:5). Thankfully, God has given us ample instruction for how we  can know for sure that we have eternal life. The first epistle of John was  actually written for that purpose, as it states in 1 John 5:13,  “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that  you may know that you have eternal life.”

There is a series of tests in  1 John that we can use to examine ourselves and our faith. As we look at them,  remember that no one will perfectly fulfill all of them all the time, but they  should reveal a consistent trend that characterizes our lives as we grow in  grace.

1. Do you enjoy having fellowship with Christ and His redeemed  people? (1 John  1:3)
2. Would people say you walk in the light, or walk in the darkness?  (1 John  1:6-7)
3. Do you admit and confess your sin? (1 John 1:8)
4. Are you  obedient to God’s Word? (1 John  2:3-5)
5. Does your life indicate you love God rather than the world?  (1 John  2:15)
6. Is your life characterized by “doing what is right”? (1 John 2:29)
7. Do you  seek to maintain a pure life? (1 John  3:3)
8. Do you see a decreasing pattern of sin in your life? (1 John 3:5-6) [Note: this  refers to not continuing in sin as a way of life, not a total absence of  sin.]
9. Do you demonstrate love for other Christians? (1 John 3:14)
10. Do you  “walk the walk,” versus just “talking the talk”? (1 John  3:18-19)
11. Do you maintain a clear conscience? (1 John 3:21)
12. Do you  experience victory in your Christian walk? (1 John  5:4)

If you are able to truthfully answer “Yes” to these questions  (or a majority of them, and are working on the others), then your life is  bearing the fruit of true salvation. Jesus said that it is by our fruits that we  are known as His disciples (Matthew  7:20). Fruitless branches—professing believers who do not display the fruit  of the Spirit (Galatians  5:22-23) are cut off and thrown into the fire (John 15:7). A  genuine faith is one that not only believes in God (the devils themselves do  that – James 2:19),  but leads to open confession of sin and obedience to Christ’s commands.  Remember, we are saved by grace through faith, not by our works (Ephesians 2:8-9), but  our works should display the reality of our salvation (James 2:17-18). Genuine  saving faith will always produce works; a faith that is perpetually without  works is no faith at all and saves no one.

In addition to these  confirmations, we need to remember God’s promises and the reality of the war we  are in. Satan is just as real as Jesus Christ, and he is a formidable enemy of  our souls. When we turn to Christ, Satan will look for every opportunity to  deceive and defeat us. He will try to convince us that we are unworthy failures  or that God has given up on us. When we are in Christ, we have the assurance  that we are kept by Him. Jesus Himself prayed for us in John 17:11 that the Father would “protect them by the  power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one.”  Again in verse 15, He prayed, “keep them from the evil one.” In John 10:27-29, Jesus said  “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them  eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my  hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can  snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” If you hear and obey the voice of Jesus,  then you are one of His sheep, and He will never let you go. Jesus gave a  wonderful word picture here of Christians securely held within His loving hands  and the Father’s almighty hands wrapping themselves around His, giving us a  double assurance of eternal security.