Have you ever heard a message from the pulpit that truly clarified a mystery, and then, because of its profound personal impact, that message found permanent residence in your heart? One of the most memorable sermons I’ve ever heard came from my Arizona pastor. Even though I heard the sermon over 30 years ago, it still remains fresh and rings with truth.
Because of my years of defiant living and my ongoing struggle with the baggage that defiance created, I found it difficult to grasp God’s love for me. I know where I have been and what I have done. How can a holy God redeem me? And how can I know for sure that He has redeemed me? I was one of those young believers who felt compelled to go to God time and again to try to “seal the deal” of salvation. That is, until I heard the sermon. Like with so many sermons, the pastor seemed to be talking directly to me.
Pastor Darryl explained that true believers have birthmarks. There is a way to know for sure whether or not you are born of the Spirit. These marks have nothing to do with denomination, financial standing, worldly success, keeping rules or a long list of benevolent service. There’s nothing outward about them.
The birthmarks are inward; only you and God know for sure they’re there. When the Holy Spirit is in you, you are aware of the depravity of your own heart. The Spirit convicts. In other words, if you are grieving your sin, you likely belong to Him. It’s when you don’t recognize your sin for what it is or when you are aware of that sin but just don’t care, that you need to seek the Savior.
This makes sense. The Holy Spirit is the ultimate change agent, and He lifts the veil of misunderstanding. Those attitudes and behaviors I entertained prior to my conversion are now abhorrent to me because the Spirit within me wants nothing to do with them.
Sin should break our hearts. That heartbreak is a birthmark.
Most Christians say that their view of sin has changed dramatically. That is certainly true with me. In my naivety as a young believer, I thought, “I’ll just focus on the Big 10 (commandments). Keep those, and I’m good to go.”
After years of walking with and listening to the Spirit of God, most of us have experienced a dramatic overhaul. Because we know that God looks at the heart and not outward indicators, we are now conscious of attitudes, motives, focus, and thoughts. This is the work of the Spirit within us.
Secondly, Pastor Darryl explained that the regenerated believer should have a longing to grow in the knowledge and likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ through worship, prayer, and the study of His Word. The Holy Spirit creates a thirsting that will likely only be fully satisfied when we join Him in eternity. This thirsting is a birthmark.
There is no need for doubt or confusion. The Holy Spirit makes all things clear, and He leaves His marks – an awareness of sin and a longing for spiritual growth – on surrendered hearts.
Seek Him and find peace.
Oh blessed peace.
Joy in Jesus,