Often people belonging to a gang, be it in society or in prison, have at least one tattoo identifying themselves with the gang where they have membership. So in certain areas where gangsterism is rife, be it in our country or another country, police, once they have apprehended a person for some crime or the other will get the person to undress so that they can see whether they have any identifying marks pointing to gang membership.
Naturally, once a person has such a tattoo it signals permanent membership because tattoo removal is very difficult and extremely costly. When boys and girls start courting they would have chains or bracelets with a heart or some other design with their boyfriend / girlfriends name on it. What they were saying is … “I belong to you” or “you belong to me”. Its intention is a mark of membership / of belonging. Often baptism, confirmation or church membership are marks of belonging to or association with or “I identify” with you. But it must be said that these are not always fool proof because often people going through these Christian rituals and rites, however noble or sincere they might be, might leave the faith proving they were not genuinely converted. Today, I want to consider a few marks of a true Christian. There are many but may I suggest that the marks of a true Christian are:
The Mark of Happiness
There are many happy people … but the question to ask is “why are they happy?” Happiness for many people could be based up some feeling or experience. Perhaps like … “It is my birthday today. I’m expecting visitors and I know they will bring me gifts. Therefore I am happy today.” “I passed my driver’s license test; I received a promotion; I’m going on holiday” … etc. However, this type of happiness is temporal and dependent upon some “good” experience to make me happy. Paul, writing to the Church at Rome, says:
Ro 4:7 Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.
The word “blessed” could also be translated as happy or congratulations. This is also true of the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5. What makes this “blessed” man happy? Happiness flows because this person is forgiven. Sin is blood covered … God cannot see it … therefore this one’s sin will never be held against the account of this person. The reason for happiness is knowing God’s pardon and cleansing! This does not mean the person walks around all day with a smile or whistling … no … it is an inner happiness that influences the whole of the person irrespective of the external environment.
The Mark of Peace
Peace cannot be faked like one could fake happiness. Having electric fences, cameras, an alarm and an armed response company gives you peace in the sense of security. Without it there is no peace. Again we read in Romans:
Ro 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.
The Christian, saved by grace through faith, has true peace because the barrier wall that separated the sinner and God has been removed through the Blood of Jesus. This peace is an inner peace that affects one’s confidence as a person to buckle down and do life passionately because one is no longer God’s enemy.
The Mark of Joy
As I explained above with happiness, the same could be applied to external joy because of pleasant experiences. Yet what does fake joy produce other than deceiving oneself and those around you? The joy I speak of is because of salvation you are happy and have peace with God … and so you have joy in your heart.
Ro 5:11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
The joy or rejoicing is because of being reconciled to God through Jesus’ sacrifice. The joy is not because of some temporal experience but because I am now united to God eternally!
The Mark of Delight
For many, that which grabs the heart is like a shadow that shifts. Here one moment and gone the next … meaning the delight constantly shifts in magnitude to where I am at, at any given moment. Yet we read:
Ro 7:22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law.
The Word of God is constant. It does not change. Its teaching, promises, warnings and rebukes are ever the same. This is why the serious believer delights in God’s Word because His Word is the one “visual and touchable” gift God has given His people.
These four marks (and there are many more) develop daily as you spend more and more quality time in the Word because as you meditate upon God’s Word either through prayer of through studying, you find your understanding of His Truth and Will matures and in turn your happiness, peace, joy and delight matures.
The first fruit of this maturity is deeply spiritual for these four marks of a true Christian develop an inner, personal trust and dependency on God that cannot be shaken. Then follows a confidence in God and His promises that are trusted and claimed. The dependency and confidence in God causes a spontaneous desire to be active in Kingdom Business. This activity might be serving the Body through prayer (which is normally unseen) or though practical assistance such as meeting short term needs (food, manual assistance, fellowship or even discipleship). It all starts with real salvation moving onto claiming the promises God has for me such as happiness in Christ; peace with God; joy because I’m heaven bound and delight because I’m able to trust God through His Word. The inner reality translates into an outward disposition resulting in personal ministry of some sort towards fellow believers!
Almighty God, Giver of all good things, we rejoice in the many gifts often overlooked such as happiness, peace, joy and delight. Lord, constantly mature me in Christ to become more and more aware of these gifts You have blessed me with because of the free salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ in whose name I pray. Amen.