There, I say, are four things which lie here on the very surface of this verse, and which are always true of the Christian. Therefore if we would know for certain whether or not we are Christians we have four thorough tests that we can apply to ourselves. Can you say quite honestly, 'I am not the person I once was, I have been born again, I am a different person?' That is the first thing--new life. It does not mean of necessity that that evidence is always very strong or very powerful. You can be a 'babe in Christ', but even a babe has life. A babe is not as strong as a grown-up adult person, but he has life. The question therefore is: Are we aware of the fact that there is this 'new life' in us? It is not that we have done something, but that something has happened to us which causes us to be surprised at ourselves, and to wonder at ourselves that something is now true of us which was not true before.
For your encouragement and comfort--and especially for those who may feel that they are very weak, and doubtful about their position--let me suggest some few simple tests. What are the tests of 'life'? Here are some of them. the Apostle Peter writes, 'As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby' (1 Peter 2:2). I put it to you in this way. Do you enjoy public meetings for worship? That is not true of the natural man, the non-Christian. Men and women of the world regard such meetings as the height of boredom; and they have no understanding of what is being said. They say, 'What is all that? What does it mean? What has it got to do with me?' And they would never want to hear it again. Does exposition of the Truth in preaching appeal to you? Do you like it? Do you enjoy it? Would you like to know more about it? If you can say 'Yes' to those questions you possess good presumptive evidence that you have new life in you. You may only be a 'babe'; but thank God, you are born again, you are 'in Christ'. Do not be misled by people who would apply the test of a mature, adult, fully-grown Christian to a newborn babe. 'The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them for they are spiritually discerned' (1 Cor. 2:14). If you therefore 'receive' these things, though you may be living and unworthy life, you are 'born again'. 'The natural mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.' If you can say honestly that your desire is to know God and to serve Him, you are a child of God. You may be imperfect, I am not excusing you--but you must be clear about this. If, because of our failures, you are made to feel, as I said earlier, that you are not a Christian at all, then your position is such that you have to go right back to the beginning once more. Therefore, I say, do not allow any legalist to cause you to doubt your position. The newborn babe desires the 'milk', 'the sincere milk of the word, that he may grow thereby'; he is interested in spiritual things. His understanding may be very small, and immature; but if he has even a glimmer of light, and if he wants more of it--if he is drawn to the truth, and likes to be amongst God's people--then the statement that 'We know that we have passed from death unto life because we love the brethren' applies to him. Those are some of the tests which we can apply to ourselves. The Apostle's assertion is that you cannot be a Christian without a death and a new birth--a 'life'.
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