"How can I know I am born again?"
That was the excellent question a Mormon missionary asked me recently after a lengthy discussion about biblical theology. And it indicated that he was giving the "born again" message some significant consideration.
Jesus told Nicodemus, "You must be born again." (John 3:7)
In other words, the only way to know God is to first be converted through spiritual rebirth.
Jesus said, "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit." (John 3:6)
This is the second birth, and only the Holy Spirit can accomplish it.
Consider the miracle of your physical birth when God formed you in your mother's womb. (Jeremiah 1:5) The miracle of the second birth is every bit as miraculous, if not more so.
Conversion delivers the forgiveness of sins to a person. It happens on the front end of a person's relationship with God. And a Christian can "know" that he has received the free gift of eternal life.
John put it this way: "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13)
A Christian is someone who believes in Jesus as his Savior, and a Christian can know his salvation is secure and heaven is his eternal home.
D.L. Moody said, "Faith is like the root; assurance is like the flower."
First you believe, and then the assurance develops. Some Christians live everyday with that flower, while other Christians struggle with some doubt concerning their eternal salvation. But every Christian is trusting in Christ and His cross for salvation, rather than trying to earn their way to heaven.
So how can I know I am born again?
The first thing I told the Mormon missionary is that it's not a matter of feelings. Instead, it has to do with relying upon the promises of God.
And if you are relying upon your works in order to be accepted by God and forgiven of your sins, then you are not yet born again.
"All who rely on observing the law are under a curse." (Galatians 3:10)
No one gets born again by relying on the law.
The only way to be born again is to rely on the cross. That is, to accept the payment Jesus made on your behalf. It is the only way to be saved, forgiven, and born again. All three of those things happen the moment a person enters God's family by receiving the gift of eternal life through faith.
So have you received God's gift? Are you trusting in the cross for salvation, or in your works? This is the first and biggest indicator of whether or not you are born again.
In addition to trusting Christ alone for salvation, a person who is born again will sincerely want to live for Christ. A born again person does not view his salvation as a "license to sin." Anyone who looks at Christianity that way is not born again. Believers don't live for sin, but rather, they live for Christ.
Do believers sin? Of course. But that is not the direction our heart wants to go. We genuinely want to live for Christ, and God is producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. (Gal. 5:22,23)
If you are born again, the Holy Spirit lives within you. If you are not born again, the Holy Spirit does not live within you.
Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth, "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16)
That cannot be said of unbelievers, but only of Christians.
If you are not a Christian but would like to be born again, then repent of your sin and tell God you no longer want to violate His commands. And simply believe that Jesus died to pay for your sins on the cross. You can receive Him as your Savior right now through faith.
"Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12)
So have you received Christ as your Savior? Are you born again? If so, then be assured that Christ will never leave you or forsake you, and know that heaven is your eternal home.
In fact, God gave you a deposit guaranteeing He will give you everything He has promised.
"Having believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance." (Eph. 1:13,14)
It is a certainty for believers.
"God has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come." (2 Cor. 5:5)
Once the Holy Spirit comes to live inside you through faith, your "reservation" in paradise is secure. And a guarantee from God is rock solid because the Lord never fails to deliver on any of His promises.
Simply trust Christ today to forgive your sins and save your soul. And then stand on God's promises. It's the only way to be saved, and the only way to know you have been born again.