'Am I Really a Christian?' A Checklist

Pastor Doug Batchelor

It’s been more than thirty years, but I still have the original logbook that contains the account of my first solo flight. I remember like it was yesterday. During my first forty hours of in-flight instruction, I was overflowing with confidence. After all, I thought, My father is a pilot, so I should be a natural.

But my self-assurance vaporized the day my instructor suddenly climbed out of the plane, leaving me alone in the cockpit as the engine purred. He said, “You’ve got this, Doug. It’s time for you to solo.”

“You mean fly alone? Me?” I said, as though he were talking to some imaginary friend sitting in the co-pilot’s chair. My brimming confidence suddenly stalled.

He must have seen the anxiety all over my face. “Don’t worry,” he said. “Just review your checklist. I’ll be on the radio if you need me.” Trembling, with dry mouth and a racing heart, I taxied the tiny Tomahawk airplane up to the runway as my bravado went into a tailspin.

It’s not as if flying is more dangerous than other means of transportation; statistically, it’s safer than driving to the grocery store. But flying can certainly be more unforgiving if you make a mistake. You can’t just coast off the road if you run out of gas or your engine dies.

That’s why, at that moment, I was so thankful my instructor had taught me to use a pre-flight checklist.

Master switch on—check.
Fuel on—check.
Compass set—check.
Elevator trim—check …

After going through the checklist, then going through it again, and knowing my instructor was available on the radio, I confidently took off, flew a couple laps around the small airport, and survived my first solo flight.

Spiritual Health Checklist

I have a couple of simple but important questions for you: Do you know you are converted? (And I mean truly converted.) And how so? I admit—when I have asked these pointed questions to fellow Christians in the past, I’ve received a few indignant glances. But the apostle Paul counseled, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

That’s why I believe that in our Christian pilgrimage, it’s a good idea to periodically take inventory of our spiritual status—to go through a pre-flight checklist, if you will. While we must guard against taking our eyes off Jesus and fixating on our behavior, it is appropriate and even healthy for us as Christians to occasionally review our progress and make necessary adjustments. The shepherd king said, “I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies” (Psalm 119:59).

While I have a permanent log of my first solo flight, you might not be able to pinpoint the day and hour of your new birth. Some conversions are sudden, actually, while others come by gradually. Either way, if you have been genuinely transformed, the evidence will be clear. “If the heart has been renewed by the Spirit of God, the life will bear witness to the fact” (Steps to Christ, p. 57).

Thus, in the following ten brief but vital checkpoints, you’ll find quality, trustworthy indicators to help you self-evaluate if you have been genuinely converted.

1. What Do I Love More—the World or God?

A Christian who loves the things of the world has a sure indicator that his or her heart’s compass is still off-kilter. “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:15, 16).

A genuine Christian will resist the powerful tendency to have our values molded by the world’s ethics: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

As a Christian, you must learn to strike the delicate balance of being in the world without allowing the world to be in you. Think of it as being in a boat floating on the water: It’s normal to be surrounded by H2O yet not get wet. But when your boat starts taking on water, you start having problems. Too much water—too much world—and you can drown.

Of course, it is normal for a Christian to be tempted by worldly things—even Jesus was. But is your love of God stronger, such that it helps you resist the tug of those things?

2. Does Sin Reign in My Life?
I would never suggest that genuine believers do not struggle with sin. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8). That said, when we are saved, habitual sin will not overmaster any area of our lives. “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it” (Romans 6:12). Simply put, the believer will not frequently display in his or her life the works of the flesh:

“Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like” (Galatians 5:19–21).

John addressed the basic principle of surrender and obedience. “He who says ‘I know him’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar” (1 John 2:4, 9). Again, John is not saying here that believers are sinless, but rather chronic sinning will not be the pattern in a true Christian’s life. Are you walking in a holiness that is foreign to those who are still bound by sin?

3. Do I love my neighbor?
Jesus said that His followers will be known by their love (John 13:35). Thus, if you are unforgiving, hateful, or always being critical of your brother or sister, then you can’t check this box in good conscience.

“If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:20, 21).

Remember, Jesus equated hating someone with committing murder in the heart: “I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment” (Matthew 5:21, 22). Do you meet this test of conversion?

4. Am I grieved by sin?
I’m sure you agree that we are living in a sin-saturated world. The ever-present media are constantly, shamelessly, broadcasting violence and other immorality. Unless we are regularly refreshed by the Holy Spirit, we will gradually become indifferent to the wickedness seeping into our hearts. “Sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me through what is good, so that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful” (Romans 7:13).

We all struggle with sin, but God forbid we get to the place where we are not grieved when we fall. While Christians will often stumble, we should feel a deep sadness and feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit regarding our sin. When Peter realized he had denied Jesus, he went out and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75).

The closer we come to Jesus, the more closely we will see the purity of His character. “One gleam of the purity of Christ, penetrating the soul … lays bare the deformity and defects of the human character” (Steps to Christ, p. 29). If there is no remorse after we have sinned, we may be on the path to grieving away the Holy Spirit. Do you have new thoughts, feelings, and motives regarding sin?

5. Where is my treasure?
Jesus said His people will “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19–21). Why? Because “no one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24).

Put another way: Your checkbook ledger or your credit card statement will quickly indicate where your true treasure is—where your heart is. If your happiness comes from buying and owning things, then you are serving money and your own pleasures. But if you are generous with others, including your local church, then you are genuinely serving God.

“If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:15–17).

Are you storing treasure in the right place?

6. Am I Bearing Good Fruit?
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Here are the fruits that will be seen in the believer’s life when they walk in the Spirit: “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22, 23).

While we know we are not saved by works, if we are walking with Jesus, we will naturally produce those good works. Jesus said: “Do men gather … figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. … By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:16–20).

Jesus is clear that if a tree doesn’t bear good fruit—the result of genuine conversion—then that tree will be cut down. Do you see fruit-bearing in your life?

7. Do I Deny Christ or Proclaim Him?
Someone once asked this penetrating question: “If you were brought to court and accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” Jesus said,

“Whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8, 9).

How many of your co-workers, friends, and family know you are a Christian by your deeds and testimony alone? Far too many of us are silent, underground, “secret agent” Christians who are afraid to bring up Christ in a conversation because they fear what people might think of them more than they fear grieving their Creator (Matthew 10:28). Well, there is no such thing as a secret Christian! Either your Christianity will destroy the secret, or the secret will destroy your Christianity.

Like Paul, are you not ashamed of the gospel? (Romans 1:16).

8. Am I spending regular time in Bible study and prayer?
When checking your health, a doctor might ask you, “How’s your appetite?” A poor appetite could indicate something is wrong in your body. Likewise, a hunger for the Word of God is a sign of good spiritual health. “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart” (Jeremiah 15:16). Do you look forward to the study of the Bible?

The same is true of prayer. If you love someone, you long to commune with them. Well, prayer is communication with your Father in heaven. “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice” (Psalm 55:17).

Do you “pray without ceasing” and spend regular time in His Word? (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

9. Do I long to worship and fellowship with others?
We need to fellowship with other believers to grow and be spiritually centered. Of course, going to church in and of itself does not assure a person is converted. Didn’t Jesus share a parable about a proud Pharisee who went to church (Luke 18)? If we love the Lord, regular church attendance will be our standard. Paul wrote, “Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24, 25).

Isaiah 66:23 says that even in heaven we will gather to worship before the Lord. Is this your pattern today?

10. Do I Have Peace?
One of the most sublime indicators of the Spirit in the life is an abiding peace. When a person is at peace with God, he cannot be made miserable. “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Psalm 119:165).

Jesus said, “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). You might say that when the Christian keeps his mind upon Christ, he develops a “calm-plex”—a heartfelt trust in God. “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).

Do you have peace that surpasses all understanding, even in the storms of your life?

How Did You Do?
If this checklist led you to question the depth of your conversion, don’t panic, but do take it seriously. It’s a good first step to restoration. Perhaps you once experienced the first love (Revelation 2:4) but misplaced it in the busyness of religion. Jesus offers a remedy: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works” (Revelation 2:5).

If you ended up with a glowing result, praise God! But keep in mind, like any love relationship, our connection with the Lord must be carefully maintained. Conversion is something that can quickly unravel, so it should be seen as a garden that must be continually watered and weeded. Paul said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31, emphasis added). Jesus said a believer must “deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23, emphasis added). You can be actively doing the work of the Lord, like Martha, yet lose sight of the Lord of the work.

Why is this so important? Because a lot of people claim to be Christians, yet their example often suggests they don’t know Christ. What a tragedy that, if not corrected, these souls will one day say, “Lord, Lord!”—but He will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23). How do you avoid this awful fate? The Bible says, “Let us search out and examine our ways, and turn back to the Lord” (Lamentations 3:40).

Check yourself monthly, weekly, or daily—if needed—against the pattern of Christ’s example: “Love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22, 23). Do you truly love God? Your neighbor? Are you kind and patient? Do you possess self-control? I hope you will honestly evaluate your faith so that you can know whether you are actually in the faith!

Sometimes I look at this list and worry. When I examine not just what I do but why I do it, I catch myself doing good things for selfish reasons. I have to say with a heart of repentance, “Lord, I’m doing the right thing, but help me do it for the right reason too.” Of course, if you’re doing the right thing for the wrong reason, do the right thing anyway. One day, by God’s grace, your motives will be adjusted. But eventually, the essence of who we are must be changed from selfishness to selflessness. Love and selfishness are the two great flags that fly over the camps of the converted and the counterfeits.

Don’t misunderstand: We are saved only by His grace through faith. But that saving grace, that faith in Christ, will produce a change in the life. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). May this be your experience today!

Looking for a biblical checklist? Read Galatians 5:19–25.


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