That there are marks by which a Christian is known to be a Christian, is most certain. That there are characteristics which evidence the real state of the heart, both to ourselves and to others, is not a thing called in question by any. Where there is living religion in the soul, it will infallibly attest its existence and vitality by "marks and evidences." If a man walks in sin — is it not plain that he is not a Christian? If a man follows the world and loves its pleasures — is it not plain that he is not a saint? If a man is covetous, or immoral, or a blasphemer, or a talebearer, or a drunkard — can he be a Christian? If he is prayerless, praiseless, lifeless — is it not clear that he is also Christless? Let no one take the great matter of salvation easily or lightly, but let him regard it with all earnestness and solemnity. Let him see it with reference to his own personal welfare for eternity.
1. A believing man will be a holy man. Nor can anything said by the author against the improper use of evidences be understood as in the very slightest degree giving countenance to the opposite of this; as if it were possible that the freeness of the Gospel could give liberty to sin, or grace be the encourager of licentiousness.
2. A believing man will be a praying man. To say, "I believe," and make this supposed faith an excuse for prayerlessness is to deny the very end and object for which we believe, namely, that we may come into the presence of God and have unceasing fellowship with Him.
3. A believing man will be a zealous man. Faith makes a man zealous. Faith shows itself by zeal. Not by zeal for a party or a system or an opinion; but by zeal for Christ — zeal for His church — zeal for the carrying on of His work on earth.
4. A believing man will be a consistent man. He will seek to abound in all good works, to bring forth all the fruits of the Spirit, to follow in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus Christ. Where there are inconsistencies — evil tempers, covetousness, selfishness, levity, flippancy, carnality, worldliness, pride, and such like — there is but too sufficient reason to conclude that the man has not yet believed. He says that he believes — but that is not believing. He speaks much about believing — but that is not believing. He boasts loudly of his assurance and scorns everyone that will not use his language — but this is not believing. He professes great zeal for the freeness and simplicity of the Gospel — but that is not believing. He who has really believed, will be too much in earnest, too much engrossed with the object before him, to be always telling others of his faith and his assurance, and his zeal for a free Gospel.
5. A believing man will be a humble man. He will think little and speak little about himself. True faith carries us above this pride, self-esteem, and vainglory. If he is a minister, he will shrink from proclaiming himself and his own feelings and his own doings; and if God has given him success, he will be the last to speak of it. Or if he is not a minister, he will still refrain from giving prominence to self in any of his proceedings. His great object will be to hide self; and not only to forget it himself, but to make others forget it too. The man that is still proud, boastful, vainglorious, and self-confident — has good reason to suppose that he has never yet believed.
6. A believing man will be always jealous of himself. He will walk continually with a most watchful eye upon himself, upon the state of his heart, the state of his life, his growth in grace, his conformity to the image of the Lord Jesus. Knowing that self-jealousy is quite consistent with simple faith and entire peace with God, he is not afraid to nourish it. He is far more jealous of himself than others — far more given to sit in judgment on himself than on others. Though holding fast the blessed truth of a saint's assurance, he is not afraid to search himself most thoroughly, saying, like Paul, "lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain" (Gal 2:2).
And though grasping most firmly, as among the surest and most fundamental doctrines of the Bible, the truths of God's eternal election and predestination unto life, as also the truth of the saint's perseverance unto the end — he does not hesitate to say with the same Apostle, "I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." (1 Corinthians 9:27). Thus, then, we are to walk "as befits saints" (Eph 5:3). Nothing in the Gospel can, except by man's perversion, in the very least encourage inconsistency or unholy walking. Christ is not the minister of sin. The grace of God cannot lead to licentiousness or unrighteousness. Nay, the more fully and simply we realize the glad tidings, the more we shall be constrained to a course in conformity with Him who has called to us. We shall feel as if committed to a holy life.
Just in proportion as we reject marks and evidences from the grounds of our peace — in that proportion we shall seek to give evidence that we have believed by bringing forth the fruits of righteousness. Our light must shine. It must diffuse itself around, making men to feel that we are children of the most High God. In word, in look, in life, in daily deportment — our character as men redeemed by blood and dwelt in by the Spirit, must be made apparent. All things that are lovely and of good report must be seen in us (Phi 4:8); so shall it be known, whose we are and whom we serve.