That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10
We see many a professing Christian who speaks and acts no differently than humanity at large. We are to recognize Christians by their fruit, Read Matthew 7:16 but what if there is no fruit? Is there salvation where there is no transformation? Who is really saved from condemnation when held accountable and judged by God? Here is the answer.
The Apostle Paul is speaking of the doctrine of justification by grace through faith in the scripture from Romans above. To be justified is to be declared righteous in the eyes of God (this is salvation from the penalty of sin, made right with God and qualified to enjoy eternity in Heaven) by his undeserved favor (grace) through belief (faith) in his son Jesus Christ. Paul tells us plainly how salvation is accomplished.
First, “believe in thine heart,” which is to have deep personal conviction. Not an intellectual understanding, but a confident, unshakeable truth held in your heart. It is not trivial; it is a belief you would die for. To believe is to have faith.
What is it that we are to believe? Verse 9 tells us, “that God hath raised him from the dead.” This is to believe the resurrection of Jesus Christ is true and all its consequences and implications. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important and impactful event in human history so far. Paramount is that it confirms his deity and affirms that his death on the cross was an effectual, permanent atonement for our sins. If the resurrection is true, then all that Jesus said, did, and promised were acts of God and can be relied upon with certainty. If there was no resurrection, then Jesus was killed for his own sin, and we are all without hope.
Then “confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus.” This is the key, presented with such simplicity as is so common in scripture that it is often overlooked or misunderstood. To confess is not a mere utterance but an honest proclamation that Jesus is Lord of your life. An affirmation of the truth that you no longer live for yourself but have taken up your cross and now follow him. Jesus must be in charge, not you.
Being right with God (salvation) occurs by faith in and establishing Jesus as your Lord; this is belief coupled with obedient submission.
How does one come to faith, or “belief in thine heart?” This answer is simple; it is a gift from God. Pursue God by hearing (or reading) his word, Read Romans 10:17 then let the prodding of the Holy Spirit bring you to Him. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you! Read James 4:8
Then, to make Jesus the Lord of your life means to follow his commands, seeking to know and follow the will of God in all that you do. Read John 14:15 Coming to saving faith is a process, and there is a moment when you know you believe and accept God’s wonderful gift of salvation. You will then be determined to change how you live, to follow God’s will, and then be amazed as the Holy Spirit works in your soul to sanctify you. This is the transformation that is a testimony to the perfect will of God.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
On the other hand, some have the knowledge, believe the truth, fear and want to escape God’s judgment, are sorry for their sin, are soaked in pious self-righteousness, or live in the confines of religious systems but are headed to an eternity in Hell. Read Luke 13:23-28 Keeping these poor mortal souls’ company are Satan and his minions, who most certainly believe in Jesus, even more profoundly than we do. Their missing element is the establishment of Jesus as their sovereign ruler. Demons, as with so many professing Christians, believe the right stuff, but they will not submit to the lordship of Christ.
Traits of the Saved Christian
Often asked is the question, “Am I really saved?” Here are the unmistakable characteristics of a genuine Christian. These desires and habits are evidence of a soul in Christ, traits absent from the lost.
- We are filled with the desire to worship God. We love him above all else and are devoted to his glory.
- We are led by the Holy Spirit. We are convicted of our sins and guided to follow God’s will. We seek his guidance, and the work of God is evident in the path we have taken. Looking back, we know that we have been led, and amazingly so.
- We desire to be taught. We seek it. We study the word of God. We hear the word of God preached. Those who are saved love to be in the word of God; those who are not cannot tolerate it at all!
- We desire and strive to be obedient to the commandments and instructions of God. We understand the evil of the world systems and separate ourselves from them.
- We experience the comfort of the Holy Spirit. We are calm and joyful through the trials of life. We look to the Father when we need help or are in distress, crying for compassion, mercy, and comfort. Believers turn to God, and non-believers tend to blame God.
- We pray. We commune with God. We thank, ask forgiveness, and petition him with our desires.
Know that even the most devout do not always exhibit these attributes. These are not always true, all the time, in our lives; directionally, this is where we want to be. But if there is no interest in these things at all, then one must wonder.