“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” – Romans 8:14
Paul makes it clear that it is not enough to have the spirit of God, but that we have to be led by the Spirit. He further implores us not only to live in the spirit but to walk in the Spirit (see Galatians 5:25) for it is those of us that walk in the Spirit that do not fulfill the desires of the flesh and are able to produce the fruit of the Spirit.
To be led, we have to hear from our leader (God). Now, it is impossible to be led without studying and meditating on the Word of God, for the bible tells us that hearing comes by the Word. Actually, the whole verse tells us that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word. Therefore, it is hearing that grants us faith (trust and belief) to obey (walk or be led) by the Spirit. Since it is simply not possible to be Holy Spirit led without having faith in God (Jesus Christ), we ought not to be mocked in the these two things:
- It is only those who have faith in Jesus Christ that can receive and be led by the Holy Spirit (God)
- It is our faith walk that makes us a child of God – it is what makes us a believer
The second bullet point elevates and challenges our thinking on what Paul means when he tells us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. He is telling us not to be married to someone who is not walking in faith. He puts it this way:
“And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever” – 2 Corinthians 6:15
When I first read this, I thought Paul was unnecessarily harsh or perhaps going off the deep-end a little. I thought to myself: Paul, you are comparing an unbeliever to Belial! Seriously! Then it dawned on me that the only way to identify a true believer is a person’s faith walk. I stumbled upon this realization as I began to unravel what Belial (evil spirit/devil/demon) is able to do. Since no one would call Belial a believer, there must be something that separates believers from him. That something is faith! To bolster this assertion, here are some interesting facts about Belial.
Belial believes that Jesus is Lord
“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble!” – James 2:19
The devil and demons have no problem believing that Jesus is Lord (see Matthew 8:29) for they know it fully well. After all, they were cast away or separated from God because of rebellion. Satan was disobedient (rebelled) because he did not love God. How do we know he did not love God? We know because the scriptures tell us that those who love God keep and obey His commandments (see John 14:21). Since genuine faith works through love (see Galatians 5:6), we know the Satan and the rest of his rebellious crew (demons) also did not have faith! If demons had faith, they would not tremble (fear) at the name of Jesus, for there is no fear in love (1 John 4:18). But they do not have faith or love, so they operate in fear.
Light-bulb moment: A believer is not just someone who believes that Jesus is Lord but walks in faith and produces faith-based work. Since genuine faith grows out of love, the walk (life) and work (actions) of a true believer is steeped in love.
Belial knows the scriptures
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”” – Matthew 4:6
This is the devil quoting scripture to Jesus.What impudence! But it does show that the devil knows scripture and is able to quote it – probably better than we can and at will. Hence, the knowledge of scripture itself is not the mark of a believer. If it were, then we would be unable to distinguish a believer from the devil! Without the Holy Spirit to guide us and to lead us aright, we only apply the scripture erroneously and for our selfish gain –just like Satan tried with Jesus.
Light-bulb moment: A person who is filled with the knowledge of the Word of God is nothing but an historian if that knowledge does not produce faith (which is only possible through the Holy Spirit). The scripture to a person without faith is simply a history book. Hence the ability to quote and recall scripture does not prove a believer.
Belial can exhibit “spiritual” gifts
“Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour” – Acts 16:16 – 18
The slave girl had the gift to tell the future – a gift of prophesy so to speak! Yet it turns out that she was possessed with an evil spirit. It is also very interesting that although demon-possessed, she was helping to spread the gospel! It just goes to show that not everyone who is proclaiming the gospel is of God. This exemplifies why the bible warns us about false prophets and warns us in the last days not to be fooled by those that perform mighty works.
Light-bulb moment: The ability to exhibit “spiritual” gifts does not prove the believer as the gift may be from ungodly spirits working in that individual.
“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” – Matthew 7:22 – 23
Belial obeys God – but in fear
“And He said to them, “Go.” And when they had come out, they went into the herd of swine…” – Matthew 8:32
The demons obey the voice of God when He speaks to them. Hallelujah! The difference between the obedience of a believer and that of demons is this: The obedience of evil spirits does not come out of love (and hence faith) but instead comes out of fear. See, faith and fear are the polar opposites of each other, but both require that we believe something that is yet to be. Both faith and fear can produce obedience – fear produce obedience based on consequences; faith produces obedience based on love.
Light-bulb moment: Faith released outside of the realm of love is fear in disguise.
Spot a Believer
So, if believing that Jesus is Lord, reading and knowing the scripture, preaching the Word, exhibiting spiritual gifts, and Pharisaical obedience to the law are not full proof ways to spot a believer, then how can we spot believers? How can we tell if someone is walking in faith?
The answer is simply this: By their fruits you shall know them (see Mathew 7:20). A person who walks in faith also walks in the Spirit for it is the Spirit of God that grows our faith as we spend time in His Word. Anyone who truly walks in the Spirit produces the spiritual fruit of love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
No one can fake these fruits. An impatient person cannot simply become patient at will. A selfish person will not be joyful because selfishness produces dissatisfaction or perennial unhappiness. A person who cannot control their tongue will not all of a sudden be able to master their tongue. These fruits cannot be faked because what we produce comes from who we are and what is in our hearts rather than what we do (obey, preach the Word…).
A person who is truly in Christ produces the fruit of the Spirit along with the works (read the bible, preach the Word…)
Light-bulb moment: A true believer walks in faith and therefore produces spiritual fruit. If we do not see spiritual fruits, then we see a counterfeit believer. Whatever else they do should not impress us much!
Food for thought: We cannot believe in God and not produce love for He is love.