Disciple of Christ - Test Your Heart!
A disciple of Christ should constantly check his heart. The Bible warns us, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9) We are warned about false conversion. How can we be certain we have accepted salvation and surrendered our lives to the Lord? The Bible tells us, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless indeed you are disqualified" (2 Corinthians 13:5).
There are signs -- warning signs to look for -- to determine whether or not we've done what ultimately every born-again Christian has done: surrendered our will to God... not only in our head but also in our heart. Think of it this way, "What is my driving purpose?" Everybody has a driving purpose in life. It's that thing that is tied to how we spend our most valuable commodity -- time. It's that area in our life where, when we're successful we're the most exhilarated, and when we have a set back, we're the most frustrated, even depressed. Take inventory of your life and examine the areas that trigger these highs and lows. You'll discover that these areas are closely tied to your driving purpose. True born-again Christians recognize that Jesus Christ needs to be our driving purpose. While false Christians proclaim Jesus is Lord with their mouths, true Christians proclaim Jesus is Lord with their lives.
As disciples of Christ, we need to surrender all of our lives to Him so that He is central, not just one of many fancies competing for our attention. Once we make the decision to put Christ first, and once we begin making the necessary adjustments to our routine to accommodate this decision, He is faithful to bring about the heart changes. Don't be discouraged immediately when the wicked imaginations of your heart continue to manifest themselves in your mind. Don't think that somehow you're going to change your heart overnight. That's what God does - over time. We can't do it for ourselves. We just submit to Him and ask Him to do that for us. It's called the process of "sanctification," and it continues throughout our entire lives. It becomes a source of great joy in our life as we witness the tremendous changes God makes in our heart. The way we see people and situations will change as God gives us "the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16)
Romans 7:18 -- 8:14 tells us that while we can't change our hearts ourselves, we can and should ignore our carnal lusts, choosing instead to live for the things of God. "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:19-25). "If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: ...put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, ...put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:21-24).
Disciple of Christ - The Fruit of the Spirit
For the disciple of Christ, there is a huge difference between just knowing God, and actually submitting ourselves to God for the saving of our souls and the renewing of our minds. The Bible says, "But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.' You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?" (James 2:18-20) Does this mean we are saved by our works and not by grace of Jesus Christ? Absolutely not. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). No, James is saying that there is a difference between knowing about God and submitting to God. The demons know of God, but they won't willingly submit to Him. On the other hand, Christians both know and willingly submit to God. The good works -- the fruit of the Spirit -- manifests itself in the life of a true believer. If we read the rest of the Ephesians passage about grace we see, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).