How Do We Know That We Know God?
How do we know we really know God? How do we know if we are in the right relationship with Him and are living according to His will? If you were to randomly approach people and ask them how they knew they know God, you might be surprised at some of the answers you would get. Many claim to know God because of the feelings they have. You might hear statements such as, “I know I know God because I can feel Him in my heart.” Others may say they know God because they felt the Holy Spirit enter their hearts and make them a Christian. The New Testament never speaks of people who stated they knew God based on such feelings. So, how does someone really know they know God? The Bible does not leave us guessing regarding such important questions. We do not have to base our answer to this all-important question on something as subjective as human feelings or emotions.
The apostle John used the book of First John to state many things we as Christians can know. He tells us how we can know God, and know that we are in a right relationship with Him. He said, “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word; truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:3-5). Let’s consider a few facts we can learn from this important text.
1. We do not have to trust our feelings to know if we are in a right relationship with God. This is a true blessing when we consider how often our feelings can mislead us. The Bible states repeatedly the dangers of trusting our own emotions and desires. Remember the proverb that says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Prov. 16:25). The prophet Jeremiah said, “O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jer. 10:23). Feelings are subjective, but the word of God is objective truth that can always be trusted as being accurate and infallible.
2. We can know that we are “in Christ.” Salvation is located in Christ (2 Tim. 2:10), and we have access to all spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph. 1:3). We are redeemed by and forgiven of our sins in Christ (Eph. 1:7). John tells us that we can know we are “in Him” when we keep God’s commandments. There is no guessing or wondering about our salvation. We can know for a fact that we are saved. We may not keep all of God’s commandments perfectly, but if we try the best we can, the blood of Christ will cleanse us of our sins when we do fail (read 1 John 1:7-9). Feelings cannot get us into Christ, but obeying the New Testament plan of salvation will (Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:27).
3. We can test those who may be false teachers. John stated that those who claim to know God, but fail to keep His commandments, are liars. We can “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) of those who may falsely claim to be Christians. Many false teachers claim to know God, but if they fail to obey God’s commandments we can “know” that the truth is not in them. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
Feelings and emotions are important. They help us realize the need for God in our lives (Matt. 5:3, 4), but obeying God is how we truly “know that we know Him.” -Ed