True Christian – What is it?
If you asked 100 people “What is a true Christian?” you might get 100 different answers. The basic definition of a Christian is a person professing belief in Jesus as the Christ or someone who is a proponent of the religion based on the teachings of Jesus. Over time, a common definition of a Christian has changed to someone who is religious or displays moral ethics. People often consider themselves Christians if they are religious, if they were brought up in a religious family, if they go to church, or if they live in a Christian nation. But does this make someone a “true Christian”?
The Bible has a lot to say about a true Christian—a true follower of Jesus Christ. The word “Christian” is only used three times in the Bible. In Acts 11:26, the believers of Jesus were first called “Christians” because their actions resembled Jesus’ behavior. The word is also used in Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16.
The Bible presents a follower of Christ as one who has been born again. In John 3:3 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” This may seem like a crazy phrase to you. You’re right! It was also considered crazy by the man Jesus was talking to in this passage. Nicodemus asked Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old?” The phrase “born again” literally means born from above. It indicates a change in one’s heart—a spiritual transformation of someone’s life.
True Christian – What is the Result?
Being born again is a simple concept with eternal significance:
Belief in Jesus Christ. John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
A realization of one’s sin. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This sin results in spiritual death according to Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Belief that Jesus died for your sins. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ [Jesus] died for us.” The Bible says that even though we deserve the death penalty for our sin, Jesus took the penalty. He died in our place. Three days later, Jesus rose from death, proving that sin had been conquered.
- Faith in Jesus’ death on the cross as forgiveness of your sins. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” We can’t do enough good deeds to work our way into heaven. Salvation is a free gift of God.
True Christian – What are the Characteristics?
The Bible says that true Christians have unique characteristics.
A true Christian has a new creation – 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” The “old” refers to everything that was part of our old nature—pride, love of sin, negative habits, evil passions. We do not inherit the new nature, nor do we decide to re-create ourselves a new nature, nor does God simply clean up our old nature; He creates something entirely fresh and unique.
A true Christian is dead to sin – Romans 6:11-12 says, “In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.” A Christian still struggles with sin, but senses conviction and can find repentance through confession to Jesus. A life of sin does not define the true Christian.
The Holy Spirit conforms a true Christian to the image of Christ. He produces “fruit” in the life of a believer. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
A true Christian is called to live a holy life. Romans 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
A true Christian is to read and obey God’s Word. James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
- Love one another. John 13:34-35 says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
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