The Walk for Salvation
Are you in the faith?
2 Cor. 13:5 - We are to test ourselves to see if we are in the faith. We should have certain changes within us that should be evident of sincere faith. The Spirit of Jesus is in us. Are we following His example? Are we living in a way that would meet the approval of Jesus? Do we have the desire to make the changes necessary to have this approval? Do we feel convicted or guilty when we sin? If so, do we feel the need to express repentance toward God? Notice that Paul exhorts us to do no evil (vs. 7). We are to stay out of sin. Is it easy or difficult to sin? If we are in Christ, then we are fulfilling and desiring to fulfill His righteousness by our lives. We will find it difficult to sin and will express repentance before God if we do stumble.
1 John 1:6 - We cannot say we know God and have fellowship with Him unless we are living as He expects. If we practice sin in our lives, then we lie and do not practice the truth. Practicing sin is to do things we know are wrong with no desire to stop. Practicing righteousness is to do things that are right and that we know God approves. If we are not practicing righteousness then we are not of God (1 John 3:10). Everyone who has the hope of seeing God purifies himself just as God is pure. We want to be like Him and with Him so we must not willfully sin (1 John 3:3). Are we purifying ourselves? Are we willfully sinning? When God shows us sin in our life, do we seek to overcome it?
Rom. 8:4 - We can test ourselves also by God's Spirit. During times of testing, do we feel the prodding of our heart and mind or hear the silent voice that speaks to us directing us to do the right things? This is God's Spirit speaking to us. Do we seek to obey the Spirit of God? If so, then we are children of God. If we willfully go against the Spirit or God's word, then we are rebelling against Him. We are choosing our own way and will over God. We are in sin, rejecting God who gave us His Spirit to sanctify us (1 Thess. 4:8). We are in danger of forfeiting our salvation because we cannot hang on to sin. Furthermore, if we lose the feeling or awareness of the prodding of the Spirit or no longer seek God's direction then we have fallen away and do not know God. However, we are under grace. This means we have the chance to recover God's grace. He is the one who knows if our heart is changeable. He is the one who will work with us. Nevertheless, when grace is over and our heart has not changed then salvation is forfeited.
What if we stumble?
1 John 1:7 - If we have been walking in the light we can receive forgiveness of sins when we stumble. Walking in the light is being led by God's word and His Spirt into truth, goodness, and righteousness. We do not seek our own will and desire, especially ungodly ones. We seek God's will and obey His commandments. If we are in the light but happen to stumble, we can receive mercy from the Father and forgiveness through the blood of Jesus. This is because we will be repentant and seek forgiveness with godly sorrow.
2 Cor. 7:10 - Forgiveness comes through godly sorrow. This is sorrow toward God for any sin committed. When we realize our sin we will pray to God with repentance seeking forgiveness by the blood of Jesus. Godly sorrow leads to salvation of our souls. Worldly sorrow, sorrow to appease man only, will end in death of our souls. Godly sorrow is sometimes expressed in a moment through our heart and mind without actually praying. With a heart right before God and with His Spirit in us we will feel the conviction and express repentance instantly through our heart. God will know our heart's repentance. At other times, conviction to repentance may take more time. It will depend on the circumstances and the condition and willingness of our heart at the time.
How will God judge us?
1 Cor. 4:4 - Paul did not judge himself justified in righteousness. He left that up to God in the day of judgment. He said that as stewards of God (vs. 2), we are required to be found faithful to God. Even if others judge us as "good," this will not justify us. God will justify the righteous in the day that He reveals the hidden things in men lives and the motives of their hearts.
Matt. 3:8 - One way God will judge us is by our works. Our works are the things we do that affect us or others. Our works should be within ourselves as well as outside. They are influenced by our words, actions, thoughts, and intents. These can prove or nullify our faith before man and God. Our works must be befitting of repentance. We must have works led by the Spirit of God, by the word of God, and in the love of God. Our works produce a changed heart and deeds that bear witness of our faith. Without works our faith is useless and dead (James 2:17,18). In essence, we won't have faith or be of God. Faith alone cannot save us (James 2:14). With the right heart, we can grow in knowledge of God's truths through His word and Spirit. Our works will increase and soon mirror the image and will of God.
It takes time to develop and mature into the sanctified saint that God wants us to be. Nevertheless, we must seek to progress in His righteousness while resisting sin and darkness. Some may take longer than others to rise to a new level of spiritual purity. Some may rise higher than others. However, we must have the desire in our hearts to progressively sanctify ourselves. This is ultimately how God will judge us, by the attitude of our hearts. God, who knows the hearts of men, will judge us by our sincerity and intent of our heart. Did we faithfully seek to live by His word and will? Or, were we lukewarm about our walk in God (Rev. 3:16)? We may have fooled man but God knows our heart. Remember, we are "being saved" (1 Cor. 1:18) and "being sanctified" (Heb. 2:11). This is a process of abiding, enduring to the end, and being steadfast in the faith. Individually, we can stop this process at any time. We have our own free wills. In the end, God will be the justifier of our souls. No one can say "I'm saved" before God says it is so.