I do not believe there are as many people on the planet who have devoted the entirety of their lives to the Lord Jesus Christ as one might like to think, and I believe that there are more who think they are, yet have either deceived themselves in this area, or are being deceived into believing they do serve Him.
Those who will say in His presence, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matt. 7:22) actually believed in this life that they were serving the Lord, there is no doubt to this statement, their words speak what they believed.
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Cor. 13:5) This verse goes beyond studying to show ourselves approved, beyond if you love Me, obey Me, it speaks to the inner man, the man that must judge himself, who must be able to look at the life he lived before Christ and compare it to not only how he lives for Him now, but that life since his claim of salvation.
I have repeated this statement numerous times, going to church and reading the Bible does not a Christian make, doing the will of God with a willing heart for the glory of God alone, no matter the circumstances or the possible consequences to yourself does.
“Didn’t I go to church, didn’t I read your Word and pray?”
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22)
The born-again believer sacrifices his desires for the Lord, he sacrifices his time when it is inconvenient to do so, he gives what he has with no thought of return, he dies to self. I will be bold to say here, if you are not fighting a battle within yourself, you may not be saved.
“For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Gal. 5:17) “I want what I want, and I do not care if God likes it or not.”
That is the person that lives inside of us, that is the sinful nature that we cannot kill, that will never leave us, only the Most High can remove it from us, and He will, if you truly are saved by the grace of God, it will be cast away forever the moment you are glorified. Those who will suffer eternal damnation will retain that nature, and they will never again know the fulfillment of even one of those desires.
Obeying the Lord goes against every fiber of our being. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13) The thief on the cross that hung beside the Lord knew complete and utter hopelessness, there was no escape, the Lord offered him hope beyond comprehension after he asked, not before.
You have to look at yourself and determine within yourself why you are living the way you are living, why you do the things you do, why you speak and act in the manner that you do, what is the purpose of your life? “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” (Eccl. 12:13) If that is not only your life, not only your desire, but in all actuality your life, and can be tested and shown to be the truth by the past actions of your life since the moment you say you were saved, then you are indeed saved.
Notwithstanding the fact that each of us, perhaps many times have been the prodigal son, we have indeed at times followed the desires of our fleshly nature and sought after those things that we know are displeasing in the eyes of the Lord. But do you come back, do you repent with a contrite and broken spirit, do you ask for forgiveness, begging for His mercy and strength to continue on the path that has been set before you. Have you forsaken all for Jesus Christ?
“Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.” (Matt. 26:34) Everybody forsakes Him, every one of us leaves Him at one time or another, the question is, what are you going to do when you hear the rooster crow? Peter wept bitterly, then got up and searched himself, saw that he was vile in the sight of the Lord, yet loved beyond all measure.
If you know that you are on the path that the Lord has set before you, then it does not matter one bit what lies ahead, it is who is waiting at the end of that path that matters. That is how you know.