14 Proofs Your Salvation is Genuine (1 John)

In my last article I shared a list of 10 Warnings About False Conversion. That list proves that it’s possible to think we’re saved and find out otherwise on judgment day. How then can we know for sure that our salvation, that our profession of faith in Jesus Christ, is genuine? What are the marks of genuine salvation? At the end of his first letter the apostle John wrote:

“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.” – John 5:13

The purpose of his letter was to give his readers (which were clearly already professing Christians) a litmus test of self examination by which they could know that they were indeed truly in possession of the eternal life promised through faith in Jesus. At the time, these other teachers, who believed and taught a heresy called Gnosticism. These Gnostic teachers were confusing many Christians with their teaching and causing them to doubt whether they were actually saved or not. So John wrote this letter “to you who believe in the name of the So not God, so that you may know that you have eternal life,” and here is what he said…

1. Salvation results in walking in the Light.

1 John 1:6-7
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

2. Salvation results in fellowship with others who are also in the light.

1 John 1:6-7
“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

3. Salvation results in an awareness of past and present sins and confession of those sins.

1 John 1:8
“If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

Note: V. 8 is the possession of sin (present tense). V. 9 is the confession of sin. V. 10 is the acknowledgement of past sins. The result is a continual awareness of our sin and a repentant heart that is honest with God about your struggle and failures.

4. Salvation results in obedience to God’s word.

1 John 2:3 (cf. 5:2-3)
“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.”

5. Salvation results in a love for other believers.

1 John 2:9 (cf. 3:10-12, 14-15, 23; 4:7-12, 16-21; 5:1-2)
“The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.”

Note: This one trait is mentioned more than any other throughout the letter. It could therefore be argued that love for our brothers and sisters in Christ is by far the most distinguishing mark of salvation. In like manner, it can also be argued that absence of brotherly love for other believers is the most distinguishing mark of the lack of genuine salvation.

6. Salvation results in absence of affection for, and devotion to, the sinful world that lives in rebellion against God.

1 John 2:15
“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father I not in him.”

7. Salvation results in perseverance in Christian community.

1 John 2:19
“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”

8. Salvation results in belief and confession that Jesus is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament prophecies.

1 John 2:22
“Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”

9. Salvation results in acknowledging the triune nature of God.

1 John 2:23 (cf. 3:24; 4:13-15; 5:5-12)
“Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the son has the Father also.”

Note: Although, the Holy Spirit is not directly mentioned here in 2:23 you cannot explain the dichotomy and union of the Father and Son given here without an understanding of God’s triune nature. Also, if you look at the other references given above you will see that John makes continual mention of belief in Father, Son and Spirit as a mark of true salvation.

10. Salvation results in perseverance in truth and sound doctrine.

1 John 2:24
“As for you let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.”

11. Salvation results in a steadfast and purifying hope that you will see Jesus face to face and be resurrected into His likeness.

1 John 3:2-3
“Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

12. Salvation results in the pursuit of sanctification.

1 John 3:6
“No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.”

Note: This verse, and it’s passage in context (3:4-10), has traditionally been explained as meaning that a true born again believer is incapable of living in the habitual practice of a sinful lifestyle. I like to think of this passage as portraying a change in the pursuit of our lives. The born again believer is still able to choose sin and therefore very much able to live in the habitual practice of a sinful lifestyle if they wanted to. However, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside the believer (indwell) at the moment of salvation and begins a new work in their heart. This means they should not desire to live in a sinful lifestyle anymore. The temptations of our flesh will still tug at us but we should find in us that the desire to pursue sanctification is stronger than the desire to pursue a habitual sinful lifestyle. And if we choose to continue in sin we should find that we are no longer able to prosper in our sin because every legitimate child is disciplined (cf. Heb. 12:7-8).

13. Salvation results in love that is demonstrated by our actions.

1 John 3:17-18
“But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against hi, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

14. Salvation results in belief and confession of the incarnation.

1 John 4:2-3
“By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

Note: This epistle of John was written in direct opposition to Gnostic heresies that were beginning to infiltrate the church. Gnostics rejected the idea that God had became man, died, and was then bodily resurrected. Gnostics believed that all matter (the material universe) was evil and therefore God could not have become flesh because that would have required Him to join with evil matter. John makes this statement here in contrast to any questionable teaching that may suggest that Jesus was anything less than both fully God and fully man.


This is not an exhaustive study of 1 John. Just the highlights and I might have missed some. Neither is this an exhaustive study on what the New Testament says about the assurance of our salvation. Just a few highlights from one small letter in the New Testament. I encourage you to spend some time reading through 1 John and studying it on your own. Start with the references provided here. If you have a good study Bible or access to some good online study tools, like biblegateway.com or studylight.org, starting with these references in 1 John will take you through many other Scriptures in the New Testament about the assurance of our salvation.

Copyright © Lawrence Joseph Sterling 2017. All rights reserved.