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Summary: There is much confusion today about what a Christian really is. Is your Christianity authentic? John tells us how we can know for sure.

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SPIRITUAL BIRTHMARKS

Matt. 7:15-23

INTRO. Have you ever been conned, deceived, lied to? How did you feel when you learned the truth? You were probably angry and you probably promised that you would never let that happen to you again. It is often the most painful lessons that we remember the best. Unfortunately, most do not hold to this line of thought when it comes to spiritual matters. Deception that steals your money is costly, but deception that condemns your soul is fatal.

It has been said, "Hell will be filled with good people." Jesus said the Pharisees were of their father the devil. (text) What a shock to get to the end of your life and discover that you’ve been practicing religion instead of righteousness! What a rude awakening to face Jesus and discover that, instead of being welcomed into heaven, you’re cast away from His presence!

It doesn’t have to be this way. (see I Jn. 5:13) Those who are truly born of God will bear certain spiritual birthmarks.

I. PRACTICING RIGHTEOUSNESS. I Jn. 3:9

When you are "born of God", you don’t practice sin

[NIV] - "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God."

A. Note the language.

1. {"is born of God"} - Perfect Tense - A process that took place in the past with results that continue to the present. (lit.) - "One who has been born of God and is now His child"

2. {"doth not commit sin"}

a. (doth not) - a part of speech known as an absolute.

b. (commit) - Present Indicative - may be literally translated as "continually or habitually practice"

3. Certainly, Christians have the ability to sin, but the point John makes is that Christians don’t have the habitual desire to sin. This is a statement of fact.

B. A born-again believer has God’s Spirit in him and does not habitually sin. He is not asked not to sin. He simply does not. Why?

1. Because God’s seed is abiding in him. God has planted His divine nature within us.

2. (2 Cor. 5:17) - "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

3. It is the Holy Spirit in the believer who abhors sin and does not permit him to engage in habitual sin. (explain conviction)

4. Christians aren’t sinless, and we won’t be until we see Christ; but we do sin less..and less..and less.

C. According to John, for professed Christians to love sin -- and continually make every effort to enjoy sin -is proof that they aren’t really born of God.

II. LOVING OTHERS. I Jn. 4:7, 5:1

A. "God is love" -- therefore it is reasonable to expect that the children will resemble the Father and manifest love.

B. One of the most obvious evidences of conversion is a desire to be with God’s people. Sunday School, worship, mid-week, revivals, Bible School, etc. When you’re one of the Lord’s sheep, you want to be with the flock.

C. Notice the source of this love. It is literally, "out of God". This is not a human love based on emotions. It is a divine love. That love that comes from God.

D. Christian love means treating other people the way God treats you. It means allowing His new nature within to motivate us in every relationship of life.

III. OVERCOMING THE WORLD. I Jn. 5:4

A. The World.

1. It is the present, earthly, sinful order of things which stand in opposition to God. It’s society without God. It is the "Egypt" of the Old Testament. It is "Babylon" of the book of Revelation.

2. I Jn. 2:15-17

3. Anything in our lives that keeps us from enjoying the Father’s love and doing the Father’s will.

B. Notice how the world tries to influence us.

1. the body -- "lust of the flesh"

the mind -- "lust of the eyes"

the will -- "pride of life"

2. The world system around us pressures us constantly to gratify our desires and act the way the world acts, to abandon God’s truth and think the way the world thinks, and to satisfy our egos and promote ourselves the way the world promotes itself.

C. When I was born the first time, I was born a loser; but when I was born again, I was born an overcomer.

D. The world walks by sight and thinks it’s enjoying life and succeeding, but Christians walk by faith and overcome the world. (I Jn. 2:17)

IV. WITHSTANDING THE DEVIL. I Jn. 5:18

A. Eph. 2:2-3

1. Satan had us in bondage, even though we thought we were free. But Christ delivered us from the power of darkness.

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