Is it possible to identify a true Christian from a false one

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Slayer

Active member
Jul 23, 2018
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#1
How can we distinguish between a true believer and someone who claims to be Christian but are not truly converted.

None of the Disciples knew that Judas was a Devil, they thought he was a true Christian.

There are some who live as true Christians for most of their lives, only to be exposed as false believers by committing some grievous sin that no true believer would commit.

There are also those who became Christians at an older age after living very sinful lives, they also have a strong testimony but we can't be sure that they are genuine either.

I don't think it's possible to distinguish the true believers from the false, only God knows who they are. So I believe we need to treat everyone as brothers and sisters until they prove otherwise.
 

OneFaith

Senior Member
Sep 5, 2016
2,203
345
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#2
The bible says we will know them by their fruit. Do they display the fruits of the Spirit? But all sin and fall short, so if they are not as perfect as Christ you can't assume they are not genuine. The bible says if they are living in sin (not just visiting) they are no longer in Christ (but can repent and come back like the prodigal son). Living in sin, or willful sin, is premeditated, continual, without goal and effort to stop.

A true christian will grow in Christ- which means they will become more knowledgeable in the scriptures, and they will sin less and less as time goes by. I know someone who has been in the church fifty+ years, and for fifty+ years has been a secret drunk. She puts on an act in church, everyone thinks she's so sweet, then she leaves the church and goes straight to buy alcohol- the money for which she gets from prostitution. She does horrific things to her children and grandchildren. She exercises false humility around the right people. She has not grown in Christ. And what does not grow, dies.

Unfortunately, you would have to know someone outside of church services to really know them. You would have to see them in situations where their patience is tested. And in the same way, you could know of a church member's sins of which they repented, and not know that they truly live as a Christian during the week. When I was a teenager I stopped going to church, and people gossipped about me. They didn't know I was kidnapped and held captive in a basement for years. We cannot judge people cause only God truly knows. But He let's us judge between right and wrong in ourselves and others.

There is much to understand- like your brother may be at a different stage of growth than you- just as physical siblings can be different ages- one is two, another fourteen, another twenty seven, etc. As you said, Judas was a Christian, Paul (Saul) was not. Judas will not go to heaven, Paul will. Only God knows for certain, but that cannot hinder us from sticking to scripture best we can, holding others accountable, and judging between right and wrong where they are currently. We can judge their words and actions, but only God can judge their soul. We can say "What you did was wrong." But we cannot say "You are going to hell!"
 

notuptome

Senior Member
May 17, 2013
14,004
2,068
113
#3
How can we distinguish between a true believer and someone who claims to be Christian but are not truly converted.

None of the Disciples knew that Judas was a Devil, they thought he was a true Christian.

There are some who live as true Christians for most of their lives, only to be exposed as false believers by committing some grievous sin that no true believer would commit.

There are also those who became Christians at an older age after living very sinful lives, they also have a strong testimony but we can't be sure that they are genuine either.

I don't think it's possible to distinguish the true believers from the false, only God knows who they are. So I believe we need to treat everyone as brothers and sisters until they prove otherwise.
Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

I may not distinguish with absolute certainty that someone else is a Christian but every Christian must know that they are a Christian.

For the cause of Christ
Roger
 

tourist

Senior Member
Mar 13, 2014
30,043
8,471
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Florida
#4
How can we distinguish between a true believer and someone who claims to be Christian but are not truly converted.

None of the Disciples knew that Judas was a Devil, they thought he was a true Christian.

There are some who live as true Christians for most of their lives, only to be exposed as false believers by committing some grievous sin that no true believer would commit.

There are also those who became Christians at an older age after living very sinful lives, they also have a strong testimony but we can't be sure that they are genuine either.

I don't think it's possible to distinguish the true believers from the false, only God knows who they are. So I believe we need to treat everyone as brothers and sisters until they prove otherwise.
The first line of what OneFaith wrote answers your question concisely.
 

CS1

Moderator
May 23, 2012
4,417
1,018
113
#5
How can we distinguish between a true believer and someone who claims to be Christian but are not truly converted.

None of the Disciples knew that Judas was a Devil, they thought he was a true Christian.

There are some who live as true Christians for most of their lives, only to be exposed as false believers by committing some grievous sin that no true believer would commit.

There are also those who became Christians at an older age after living very sinful lives, they also have a strong testimony but we can't be sure that they are genuine either.

I don't think it's possible to distinguish the true believers from the false, only God knows who they are. So I believe we need to treat everyone as brothers and sisters until they prove otherwise.
once you have figured out what is immaturity , igonace , error, false teaching, false prophet , spirit of anti-christ from the word of God . Then you will have better understanding on how to address each one. Those who are immature, ignorant , and error all can be done by Born a- again Christians. The latter three most likely are not. To do something false you have to know what is true, or completely abandon the truth. This is hard when you or if one is saved because it is the JOB of the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth. same with false prophet they are closer to Apostate = betrayer of the faith. The spirit of anti-christ can never be saved.
 

OstrichSmiling

Well-known member
Jun 17, 2018
1,027
413
83
#6
In the end what matters is God knows.
Turn on the television and we are apt to witness thousands of people gathered at different church locations thinking themselves in the presence of a true Christian.

Peter was a true Christian. He denied Christ three times. But his story is a blessing because it renounces the idea that we can do something that will cause God to cast us out of his grace. So there is that.

Live your life in Christ. Be the example of the faith that saved you. That's what we're responsible for in the end. Though we're not to ignore blatant falsehoods when they make themselves known to us. In the end though, what God knows is what matters. And when we're no longer matter and get to Heaven we'll know who among those we did know in this life really were true. Or not. Because the untrue could be one of us.

. I've read enough posts on forums where sisters or brothers post they doubt if God knows them or if they are truly saved. God knows. That is literally in the end all that matters.
 

PennEd

Senior Member
Apr 22, 2013
8,030
4,293
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#7
Hmmm. Wondering what qualifies as a "grievous" sin that identifies someone isn't a Christian?
 

Blain

Senior Member
Aug 28, 2012
14,929
706
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#10
This is actually a good question to ponder and I would encourage people to ponder it deeply. We have those who believe that only God can truly distinguish the two because only God knows the heart but on the other hand God did not teach us to be ignorant either. There is a good reason he uses the wheat and the tares to represent us because on the outside they both are so similar that it's hard to know the difference however to the trained farmers eye the difference is noticeable otherwise his crops will wither and die. There also a fruit that appears like a clone of a cherry and if your not trained to spot the difference between the two it can be fatal. They both seem the same but the difference is slightly rougher outer part of this counterfeit that you can only notice with a close up inspection and rubbing it between your fingers. The juice in this berry is very poisonous and will make one bite a week of throwing up and headaches.

In the distinction of a true believer yes it can sometimes be difficult to discern the difference of the two and for those who do not have the discernment should not attempt it unless God himself prompts them too but a single counterfeit in the church is like a cancer that you don't even recognize what it's doing to the body until you see the major signs and it's already done severe damage and to assume that we cannot discern is dangerous. Not everyone is gifted with such discernment and this discernment also ties in with how well you know God's voice and what fruits to look for or not.
 
Dec 28, 2016
8,322
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#11
How can we distinguish between a true believer and someone who claims to be Christian but are not truly converted.

None of the Disciples knew that Judas was a Devil, they thought he was a true Christian.

There are some who live as true Christians for most of their lives, only to be exposed as false believers by committing some grievous sin that no true believer would commit.

There are also those who became Christians at an older age after living very sinful lives, they also have a strong testimony but we can't be sure that they are genuine either.

I don't think it's possible to distinguish the true believers from the false, only God knows who they are. So I believe we need to treat everyone as brothers and sisters until they prove otherwise.
I'd have to say that a true believer can, and has, committed the same grievous sins that a lost person commits. I wouldn't base (or even go there) a persons salvation on the level of a sin they may have committed. True Christian? Not true Christian? Above my pay grade.
 

MattforJesus

Senior Member
Apr 15, 2017
2,303
432
83
#12
How can we distinguish between a true believer and someone who claims to be Christian but are not truly converted.

None of the Disciples knew that Judas was a Devil, they thought he was a true Christian.

There are some who live as true Christians for most of their lives, only to be exposed as false believers by committing some grievous sin that no true believer would commit.

There are also those who became Christians at an older age after living very sinful lives, they also have a strong testimony but we can't be sure that they are genuine either.

I don't think it's possible to distinguish the true believers from the false, only God knows who they are. So I believe we need to treat everyone as brothers and sisters until they prove otherwise.
It is hard to tell how genuine someone is when in the presence of the saints, for they will be on their best behavior, and if they act up in front of the saints they surely do not care.

Jesus said the Pharisees appeared righteous, beautiful on the outside, but inside were full of dead men's bones, and uncleaness.

Unless you know someone personally you might not know all that they do, which might be hypocritical.

There are many Christians that do not get it that we have to hate sin, and not want sin, before the Spirit will lead us, for it not then we are led of the flesh.

Which the Bible says some have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof (the Spirit that gives them the power to overcome sin), ever learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth, which they believe that they are right with God despite their sins, for they do not think they can beat sins.

It is really a matter of belief, and we might sin, but all sin can be forgiven, but it is our attitude towards sin, which there can be a pleasure in sin such as having great wealth, or at least a good amount of money above our needs, and material things, being able to enjoy life like travel, and cruises, but then it falls under the category of the love of money which neglects the poor and needy.

And some find pleasure in alcohol, and drugs, and worldly entertainment,and belittling people liking the arrogancy of it, and such things.

And we might sin for we might want to enjoy one of those fleshy pleasures, but as a saint we are supposed to hate sin, and not want sin, but all sin can be forgiven.

The Bible says the Lord know them that are His having this seal, which this is what seals the saints, and the way they are led of the Spirit, that everyone that names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

And a Spirit led life will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

So we can abstain from sin, and sin does affect our relationship with God, so our attitude should be to know that sin separates us from God, and we are not right if we hold unto sin, and someone with that attitude will gave a far greater chance at abstaining from sin, and if they do sin they will get rid of it and keep moving forward, and they will feel shame when they do wrong.

But some do not have that attitude which Jesus said not everybody that says Lord, Lord, will enter heaven because they were workers of iniquity, because they held unto sin, and people usually do that because they think they are still right with God despite their sins, for they think they cannot beat sins, and sin daily, but by the Spirit we can abstain from sin if we hate sin, so there is no excuse

Which you would have a better chance at knowing who is genuine and who is not in Christlike behavior, and not hypocrisy, by their attitude concerning sin, for the ones that say they can abstain from sin, and sin does affect their relationship with God, and they cannot hold unto sin and be right with God, you will know that the person would most likely be genuine for those you do not know their lifestyle personally.

Not saying they might not sin, but it will give you a better chance at knowing their personal life, then if they are among the saints and acting right, for basically everybody will act right then.

If they have the attitude they cannot abstain from sin, and sin daily, and sin does not affect their relationship with God, then you have a better chance at knowing they might be holding unto sin, and most likely they will hold unto sin, although they would not be as bad as the world for they would have some kind of Christlike behavior.

When it comes to love of Jesus though, many are thankful what Jesus Has done for them, and love Him, whether they have the right or wrong attitude.

But God says they truly do not love Him if they have the wrong attitude because God hates sin, and if we do not hate sin then we would be going against the character of God who hates sin.

But those that have the wrong belief really think they love God, in which they do, but God's definition is different concerning love than what some people think it is, for He will not bypass holding unto sin, so sin does affect our relationship with God, where some say it does not.

I think what is important is to find a Church that preaches the right attitude concerning being led of the Spirit, and being Christlike, for the hypocrisy will not be as bad, and they will for the most part be on the level, and show the love of Christ more towards people.

But God said in a great house there are some to honor, and some to dishonor, which He said there will be some hypocrites, but it is still a great house, so people should not be discouraged concerning if there are hypocrites, but the main thing is to find a Church that preaches the right attitude for then the hypocrisy should be low, and it would probably be in very minor things.

For I did attend a Church that did preach the right attitude when I lived in another city, and I knew many of them personally, and also knowing their lifestyle, and hung around some of them, and believe me they did a great job at acting like Christ all to my delight, for they really were sincere to do what is right, for that is what the Church taught and they said, it is truth.
 

CS1

Moderator
May 23, 2012
4,417
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113
#13
Hmmm. Wondering what qualifies as a "grievous" sin that identifies someone isn't a Christian?
is not all sin done against God ? How bad can one can one get LOl
 

Nehemiah6

Senior Member
Jul 18, 2017
10,623
4,084
113
#15
I don't think it's possible to distinguish the true believers from the false, only God knows who they are. So I believe we need to treat everyone as brothers and sisters until they prove otherwise.
That's it. Christians have not been tasked with assessing others, since that is God's prerogative. However, the Bible does provide us with specific indicators as to who is a Christian. Study the first epistle of John.
 

SpoonJuly

Senior Member
Feb 16, 2018
1,403
1,017
113
#16
How can we distinguish between a true believer and someone who claims to be Christian but are not truly converted.

None of the Disciples knew that Judas was a Devil, they thought he was a true Christian.

There are some who live as true Christians for most of their lives, only to be exposed as false believers by committing some grievous sin that no true believer would commit.

There are also those who became Christians at an older age after living very sinful lives, they also have a strong testimony but we can't be sure that they are genuine either.

I don't think it's possible to distinguish the true believers from the false, only God knows who they are. So I believe we need to treat everyone as brothers and sisters until they prove otherwise.
Some are very good at deceiving others.
Some even deceive themselves.
Only God knows for sure.
While I will not publicly say to someone I am concerned about their salvation, I do pray for some who seem suspect.
Even some on this forum.
 

mailmandan

Senior Member
Apr 7, 2014
19,773
8,199
113
54
#17
It is possible, although some false Christians are not as obvious as others. To the 11 disciples, Judas Iscariot looked like the real deal, but Jesus knew his heart and said, he is a devil!
 
Sep 3, 2016
4,399
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#18
The Parable Of The Wheat And Tares
Matthew 13:24-30 King James Version (KJV)


24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:

25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.

26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

King James Version (KJV)
 

rlm68

Active member
Jul 23, 2018
486
118
43
#19
How can we distinguish between a true believer and someone who claims to be Christian but are not truly converted.

None of the Disciples knew that Judas was a Devil, they thought he was a true Christian.

There are some who live as true Christians for most of their lives, only to be exposed as false believers by committing some grievous sin that no true believer would commit.

There are also those who became Christians at an older age after living very sinful lives, they also have a strong testimony but we can't be sure that they are genuine either.

I don't think it's possible to distinguish the true believers from the false, only God knows who they are. So I believe we need to treat everyone as brothers and sisters until they prove otherwise.

I believe the Disciples saw Judas as a typical Jew in those days and it never crossed their mind he would betray God. I don't believe Judas had any idea he was going to betray God until the message being preached was about peace, not about going to war against Rome (they had an idea the Messiah was about war - He is - just not first time around).

But to answer your question, people trying to do right and filled with good intentions can make mistakes and appear like a bad person. This is not saying there are no wolves in sheep clothing, because that is obvious!!

And to point something out concerning sinners growing old and becoming believers, the person on their death bed who sincerely seeks forgiveness is as saved as all of believers. Best example is the thief on the "CROSS." And to make matters even muddier, the thief on the cross never was water baptized and still promised to be in Paradise that very day!!

Discernment is a big key, but to spend your time searching for bad individuals, is not the Will of God!!
 

Jewel5712

Well-known member
Jun 22, 2018
4,091
2,265
113
#20
How can we distinguish between a true believer and someone who claims to be Christian but are not truly converted.

None of the Disciples knew that Judas was a Devil, they thought he was a true Christian.

There are some who live as true Christians for most of their lives, only to be exposed as false believers by committing some grievous sin that no true believer would commit.

There are also those who became Christians at an older age after living very sinful lives, they also have a strong testimony but we can't be sure that they are genuine either.

I don't think it's possible to distinguish the true believers from the false, only God knows who they are. So I believe we need to treat everyone as brothers and sisters until they prove otherwise.
I know in the Bible it says "by thier fruits you shall know them" but you can still have salvation and not be living for the Lord in different areas of your life..so..id say its not for us to judge since its the motives of our hearts that often directs our paths and Jesus is the only judge of hearts