I John 5:11-13
THE BIRTHMARKS OF THE TRUE BELIEVER
Intro: In the church I attended as a boy, there was a set
of twin girls who attended there also. These two girls
were absolutely identical, except for the fact that one of
them had a large birthmark on her cheek. Without that
birthmark, it would have been impossible, at least for
me, to have told them apart.
Did you know that all true believers also possess
certain marks that set them apart from the rest of
humanity? We could rightly call these things that set us
apart our birthmarks. They appear when we are saved
and they mark us as children of God. Every saved
person has every one of the birthmarks of salvation.
Some people doubt whether it is possible to know
for sure that one is saved. Well, the Bible tells us of
some who knew: Job, Job 19:25; Paul, 2 Tim. 1:12.
Since God is no respecter of persons, you may have
that same assurance also.
In fact, one of the reasons for the writing of this book
from which we have read this morning, was to help
people know for sure that they had been saved, 1:6;
5:13. As you read First John, it becomes clear that he
is trying to help God's people gain absolute assurance
of their salvation. He uses the word "know" 39 times.
John is trying to tell us that there are some things we
can know. One of them is whether or not we are saved.
If you have struggled in this area, I want to help you
get that matter settled once and for all this morning. I
want to share the birthmarks of the true believer with
you this morning. Identifying the presence, or the lack,
of these traits within our lives can help us understand
where we stand in relation to God. If you have
struggled in this area, there is no need to do so any
longer. God can give you assurance, on way or the
other, right now. Let's look together at The Birthmarks
Of The True Believer.
I. 5:1 A SPIRITUAL CONVERSION
A. This verse tells us that the true believer is a
person who "believes" that Jesus is the Christ.
What then is belief? Is it merely a mental
acknowledgment of the facts? No! Belief is
knowing something with the head, but it is also
accepting that truth into the heart. Genuine
belief, or saving faith, is coming to the place
where one is trusting nothing else, or no one
else, but Jesus Christ for salvation. There is no
room for works, religion, good deeds, or anything
else in the heart of the truly saved person.
B. I cannot tell you whether you are saved or not.
Only you know what you are trusting to get you
to heaven. However we do have the promises
of God in this matter: 1 John 5:12; John 5:24;
John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9-13; Rom.
8:1; Rev. 22:17; Acts 2:21, and hundreds more
besides! We also have this principle from
Scripture: God is holy and cannot lie, Heb. 6:18.
What He promises to do, He will do! Therefore,
if you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Savior,
according to the plan laid out in the Bible, then
you are saved! You have His word on it!
C. So, that brings us to the place where some
questions must be asked and answered.
1. Has there been a definite, clear moment in
your life when you trusted Jesus Christ, and
nothing else to save your soul?
2. When you had your "experience" was it
according to the plan laid out in the Word of
A. Did you come to the place where you
recognized and acknowledged your sins
to God? (Rom. 3:23; 3:10) That is, have
you ever been lost? Until you can see
your sins and yourself as a sinner, you
cannot be saved. This process is called
conviction! It is the Holy Spirit drawing
sinner unto Himself, John 6:44; John
B. Did you recognize the horrible
consequences of your sins? Namely, did
you know that because of your sins, you
were separated from God, Isa. 59:2;
dead in those sins, Eph. 2:1, and
because of your sins headed to an
eternity in Hell, Rom. 6:23? This goes
back to the knowledge of being lost
C. Did you come to the place where you
understood completely what Jesus did for
you when He died on the cross and when
He rose from the dead? Did you
understand that when He died, He was
dying in your place, shedding His blood
for your sins, 2 Cor. 5:21; Rev. 1:5? Did
you understand that when He arose from
the dead, He did so to provide you with a
new life? Did you go beyond just knowing
these things in your head to believing
them with all your being?
D. Did you cry out to God confessing
yourself a sinner, acknowledging Jesus
Christ and His shed blood as your only
hope of forgiveness and salvation? Did
you ask Him into your heart and life to be
your personal Savior? Did you trust Him
and nothing but Him to save your soul,
3. When this experience took place, was it
crystal clear? I mean, when you look back
now, is there a clearly defined moment in
time when everything changed? Or, is the
whole thing kind of fuzzy and unclear? The
fact of the matter is this: when Jesus saves a
soul, it isn't a thing done in a corner. It is
clear and dramatic. The circumstances
surrounding the conversion may differ, but
one thing remains the same, there will be a
specific point in time that the redeemed
person can point to and say. "Right there is
when I trusted Jesus Christ as my Savior
and my life was forever transformed!" (Ill.
The Gadarene Demoniac, Mark 5; Ill. Saul of
Tarsus, Acts 9; Ill. Me - May 23, 1983!)
D. Now, looking back, and in all honesty, how
would you describe the event you are trusting to
take you to Heaven? Was it clear and dramatic?
Can you honestly say that you trusted Jesus and
Him alone to save your soul? If so, then that is
the Bible way. Or, would you have to admit that
you really can't remember ever being lost? You
can't remember confessing your sins and
receiving Christ into your life. In fact, the whole
event is unclear. Maybe you need to come this
morning and get that thing nailed down. There
will be the birthmark of a genuine spiritual
I. A Spiritual Conversion
II. 1:6-7 A SPIRITUAL CHANGE
(Ill. These verses tell us that those who are saved have
a desire to "walk in the light". Jesus is the Light, John
8:12. Therefore, those who are saved will want to seek
fellowship with Jesus. In other words, when they are
converted, their whole life will change. This is a theme
that runs through the whole book of First John. He tells
us that the second birthmark of the true believer is a
spiritual change in their lives. Let's follow this thread
through First John and see if we possess this mark of
the new birth.)
A. 1:6-7 - There will be a desire for fellowship with
the things of light. The person who is truly saved
by grace will gravitate toward those things that
have to do with the Lord. Things like the Bible,
prayer, the church, the fellowship of the saints,
etc, will all be precious and special to the person
who has been saved. If you find that you are
drawn toward things pertaining to darkness, you
might need to check up on where you stand with
B. 2:3-6 - There will be a desire within the true
believer to do the things God commands us to
do, and to avoid the things God commands us
not to do. Genuine salvation is proven by a
desire to obey God! According to verse 6, the
genuinely saved person will want to walk just like
C. 2:29 - There will be such a change in the
believers life that they will naturally begin to do
the things that mark them as righteous. They will
live out the new life that was placed within them
when they were saved by the grace of God.
D. 3:6-10; 5:18 - The true believer cannot continue
to live a life of sin. According to these verses,
the genuinely converted person will be unable to
live a lifestyle of unrepentant sin. When John
tells us that those who are saved do not sin, he
is not teaching sinless perfection. As we know,
all people, even Christians sin, 1 John 1:8-10.
However, when we come to faith in Jesus, there
is a new dynamic that takes place within our
lives. When the genuinely converted person
sins, there is an immediate sense of wrong. The
believer will understand that they have damaged
their fellowship with God and will not have peace
in their life until they make it right with God. The
only way for a believer to handle sin is for them
to confess it and get it out into the light.
Those believers who do sin are miserable
until they repent, and they are brought under the
chastisement of God, Heb. 12:6-11. The whole
point is this: if you can sin and never be
bothered by it, then you probably aren't saved.
If you can sin and not suffer chastisement, then
you probably aren't saved. If you can sin and
enjoy it, then you probably aren't saved. If you
are able to life with sin in your life everyday, and
not feel an ache in your heart for restored
fellowship with God ,the I would suggest to you
that you should come to Jesus today and be
Now, don't misunderstand me, saved people
do sin! However, they will not enjoy it like they
did before they were saved! And, when they sin,
they will never get away with it! God will deal
with them in love, Rev. 3:19, but if they will not
repent, then He will deal with them in judgment,
1 Cor. 5:5; 1 John 5:16.
E. 4:6 - Another clear mark of genuine conversion
is that the saved person will receive the Word of
God when it is preached and when it is read. It
will not be something to doubt, debate or get
angry over. The saved person will hear the voice
of the Lord through His Word and will respond to
it accordingly. Jesus said that this would be a
characteristic of His sheep, John 10:27. The
desire to hear the Word of God; the ability to
understand the Word of God; and the desire to
do what God says in His Word are all indicators
of spiritual life, 1 Cor. 2:14.
F. When Jesus saves a life, He literally changes
that person from the inside out. They are a
brand new creature, 2 Cor. 5:17; Col. 3:1-17.
They can never be the same, neither will they
want to be anymore.
G. Has there been a definite change in your life?
H. Now, some people who hear this were saved at
a young age. They were saved before they ever
had the chance to go off into vile sin. They may
feel that their testimony is lacking something.
Let me just say, you have the best testimony of
all! However, you can gage your life by the
same measuring stick. While you might not be
able to say that God brought you out of gross,
black sin, you can say that He has worked in you
life so that there is no desire within you for the
things of the world or the works of darkness. If
the natural, fleshly desires manifested by a lost
world are absent in your life, that is a good thing,
and that is a cause for you to have assurance
before the Lord.
So, has there been a definite, spiritual conversion and
a definite, spiritual change in your life?
I. A Spiritual Conversion
II. A Spiritual Change
III. 2:9-11 A SPIRITUAL CHARITY
(Ill. A third birthmark in the true believer's life is that
there will be a genuine love for other believers. It will be
a love that is unexplainable. It will be a love that is, at
times, stronger than love felt for those of one's natural
family. This is a concept mentioned numerous times
within this little book and is worthy of mentioning today.)
A. Let's notice all the times John refers to this truth
in his book: 2:9-11; 3:14-15; 4:7-8; 4:11-12;
4:20-21. If you are saved, this special, spiritual
manifestation of the love of God through your life
for other believers will be a reality!
B. How will this love manifest itself? There are
several ways in which true, Christlike love will be
seen in the life of the genuine believer.
1. In a desire to fellowship and worship with
other believers - Heb. 10:25.
2. In a concern over the welfare of others in the
family of God - 1 Cor. 12:26; Phil. 2:3-4;
Gal. 6:2; Rom. 12:15.
3. There will be concern when we have
offended a brother in Christ - Rom. 14:19-22;
1 Cor. 8:9-13.
4. There will be a desire for reconciliation when
there is a breech in the body of Christ - Eph.
4:26-32; Matt. 5:23-24; Matt. 18:21-35;
C. There is more that could be said about this
matter, but I think the implications are clear. If
we are genuinely saved, there will an
unexplainable desire to be with and to love our
I. A Spiritual Conversion
II. A Spiritual Change
III. A Spiritual Charity
IV. 4:13 A SPIRITUAL COMPANION
(Ill. Where do you stand thus far? Do you have the
birthmarks of genuine conversion? All of the above are
easy to understand and can be clearly seen by
everyone here today as we look at our own lives. The
final one I want to share, however, is not so easily
discerned. It is this matter that we are more prone to
satanic and fleshly deception. I am referring to the
matter of inner peace. I am referring to the ministry of
the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer.)
A. When a person has been genuinely saved, there
will be the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, Rom.
8:16. The Holy Spirit moved into our hearts at
the instant of conversion, Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor.
12:13. His job in us is to seal us, Eph. 4:30;
lead us, John 16:13; and to give us assurance
of our salvation; Eph. 1:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:22; 2
Cor. 5:5. The presence of the Spirit of God in
our lives is proof positive that we belong to the
B. This is a mysterious thing, but it is absolutely
essential for the assurance of one's salvation.
When the Spirit of God is present in your life, He
will speak to your heart. He will tell you things.
He will guide you. He will warn you. He will lead
you. He will feed you. He will comfort you. He will
teach you the truth. He will rise up within your
heart and confirm the reality of your adoption
into the family of God, ***Rom. 5:5***. Like a
mother who wraps her arms around that
insecure child everyday and expresses her
undying love, the Spirit of God does the same
things for the redeemed child of the Lord.
(Ill. To put it simply, when you get saved,
there is a spiritual instinct placed within you.
You immediately begin to desire those things
that pertain to God, His Word, His work and
His worship. This will not be a passing thing,
but it will endure throughout life because of
the presence of the Spirit in your heart.)
C. If there is no peace; if there is no assurance; if
there is not communion of the Spirit of God with
your spirit, then it may be that He is not there. It
may be that you need to be saved. If the Spirit
of God never speaks to your heart, then you
need to examine yourself. It may be that you
have never really been saved! This can also be
caused by unconfessed sin in the life of the
believer. When we are walking in the light, the
Spirit of the Lord will bear witness within us that
we are in the family!
D. Someone may say, "Preacher, I don't know if the
Spirit os there or not." Let me say to you, if He
is there, you will know it! How? There will be no
question when He is in your life! There will be
times when He will get so big that His presence
is crystal. At other times, His presence will be
indicated by subtle things like an inner desire for
prayer, for the Word of God, to tell a lost person
about Jesus, etc. He will make His presence
known and He will give you assurance of your
salvation! The presence of the Holy Ghost in
your life is proof that you belong to God!
Conc: I know I have covered a lot of territory this
morning. But, I felt lead of the Lord to preach this
message. Why? Because there are people in this
room who are not sure where they stand with God.
There are others who know they are not saved. My
friends, if you lack even one of the birthmarks of the
true believer this morning, then this message was sent
this way for your benefit. It's all or nothing! You need to
leave the seat where you are sitting and you need to
come to Jesus and get this thing settled right now and
forever. If the Lord is speaking to your heat you need
to come! If you are in doubt you need to come. If you
are convinced that you are lost, you need to come. Will
you listen to the call of God and come to Him for
salvation today? Or, will you continue to live in doubt
and fear? God can help you if you will come to Him
You can know! God wants you to know! And, the
first step in your coming to know for sure is for your to
make our way to Him right now!