Summary: A saved believer is a changed believer
Characteristics Of A Converted Christian
TITUS 3:3-8 "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, [and] hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. [This is] a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men."
Paul makes it clear in this passage that true conversion means real change. He outlines the qualities and characteristics that defined us before we were saved. Then he asserts that those who have been regenerated by the blood of Christ and have been changed and converted by the renewing of the Holy Spirit, will be characterized by a life-style starkly contrasting to their past perverted pattern of living. They will maintain good works and do those things that are good and profitable for men and pleasing unto God.
Paul's life after conversion personified the truth of this proposition. The old saying that the proof is in the pudding has never been more clearly illustrated than in the life of this Paul, who not only changed his name to Paul when he was saved, but underwent a complete radical transformation in the purpose and pattern of his life. His life is a clear and classic confirmation of the statement he would make later to members of the Church at Corinth, "If any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creature, behold old things have passed away and all things have become new."
In Paul's life this change is immediately made clear as he moves with reckless abandon and great boldness to join up with those he had so despised and persecuted. An even more impressive confirmation is contained in the record of his relentless and resolute march to martyrdom. His was no fair weather faithfulness. Years later in prison in Rome we find him standing in the shadow of the executioner's axe. He looks back and surveys the years of suffering for the sake of His Savior and pens these inspired and immortal
words to his young protege, Timothy, "I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith, I have finished my course, and henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.." The record of the life and death of the great apostle still stands as the ultimate definition of real conversion.
The confirmation of true conversion remains the same in our day. The proof is still in the pudding. If a person professes salvation and no immediate or radical change is manifest, the validity of his confession is clearly and correctly called into question. Paul's statement that so strongly affirms to the Ephesians that salvation is entirely by grace through faith, concludes by attesting that God has ordained that those who are truly saved will walk in good works.
In my boyhood days I well remember the news that a notorious bootleg- ger had been converted in a evangelistic camp meeting. It was the talk of our rural community for days. Everyone agreed that the ultimate test of his profession would be whether or not local drunks had to find a new supplier of their moonshine. As far as I can recall, his profession was ultimately made clear by the obvious possession of Christ in his life and a radical life-style change.
Such change confirms the presence of a new spiritual nature in those who are truly converted. Such change entails more than a temporary outward or cosmetic transformation. Someone has said you can clean up and perfume a pig and place it in your parlor. This will not permanently change the pig, but it will change your parlor. This is what Peter had in mind in his analogy of false teachers found in the last verse of the second chapter of his second epistle.
I once knew a man who had great skill in repairing the bodies of old cars. He could take a rusted out piece of old junk and with a lot of putty and paint place it in what appeared to be mint condition. But let the buyer beware. In the not so long haul, he would find he had paid a premium price for a poorly performing piece of old junk that would not stand the test of truth and time.