In the Bible it is written: “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.” (Heb 6:9)
There are some things … be they qualities, dispositions, attitudes … that accompany salvation. These things do not cause salvation, they accompany salvation. If we claim to have obtained salvation and are truly lacking in any of these things we are walking in presumption and are self-deceived. If we cannot find salvation’s fruit within we ought to either seek salvation in earnest or ask God to show us the necessary fruit in our lives. There are no other sane options here. What are these things that are found in every child of God?
Love for Christ
The primary and overriding virtue that accompanies eternal salvation is a love for Jesus Christ. “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” (1Co 16:22) This text is effectively an eternal curse upon any soul that does not sincerely love the Lord Jesus Christ. No saint has an eternal curse upon them, so every saint of God — every child of God — loves Jesus Christ. This love is generally accompanied by a sentimental feeling of affection and admiration for Christ, but this may not always be the case and it is certainly not the focus. The consistent love believers experience for Christ is a matter of the will, a persistent determination to honor and obey Him: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” (1Jn 5:3a)
Love for Others
Loving Jesus Christ implies that one will also love others. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen.” (1Jo 4:20) A man is lying if he says he loves God and yet hates his neighbor. Therefore if he loves God he cannot hate his neighbor: he must love his neighbor or he cannot love God. There is no believer who does not love God, so every believer loves his neighbor. This does not necessarily mean that he likes his neighbor or thinks his neighbor is a wonderful person, but it means that he will seek the well-being of others, pursue their good as a general manner of life.
Obedience to God’s Laws
Loving God and others is generally representative of a life of obedience to God; believers in Christ love Him and keep His words. “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings.” (John 14:23-24a) There is a direct correlation between loving Jesus Christ and obeying Him. All who are born of God will love Him, and all who love Him will obey Him. Therefore all those who are born of God obey Him.
Those participating in the new covenant in God have been given a new heart and a new spirit by God, and God is writing His laws, the Old Testament laws, the Torah, into their minds and hearts and causing them to walk in His statutes: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” (Heb 8:10, see also Ez 11:19-20)
This kind of transformation, to live a life of holiness in obedience to Torah, is at the heart of the Gospel message; so those who claim to believe in Christ and yet do not obey His Laws (Torah) are not walking with Christ and will eventually be rejected by Him: “Many will say to me in that day, 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? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mat 7:22-23) For further detail here, please see: Keep My Commandments.
While obedience to God is intrinsic to the gospel, we know that we are all sinful (1Jn 1:8); keeping the commandments perfectly is impossible. How good does one have to be in order to have assurance and be consistent with the Word? No one is perfect, and examining one’s soul can be a daunting task. This can be a little tricky.
Lest one become discouraged in this, finding sin within themselves that drags the humble soul to despair, one does well to observe that holiness is on a spectrum, sinfulness has degrees, and love has depth. The more tender the conscience, the more acute the spiritual senses, the more sin is discerned. The closer we get to God the more sinful we find ourselves to be. (Is 6:5, Job 42:6)
Certainly, King David sinned grievously against God, Bathsheba, and Uriah. David was certainly a child of God. One cannot say that a Christian does not sin at all, or even that a Christian cannot sin very badly at times. What is understood is that the Christian cannot commit himself to sin as a manner of life, being hardened and determined to continue in it. David’s sin was out of character for him, and he did not persist in it when he was rebuked. David repented of his sin and returned to God. The tender conscience is repentant, and willingness to obey in those things where one is able to obey is intrinsic to the renewed heart.
This is equivalent to saying, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1Jn 3:9) No believer can live a life committed to disobedience to God. While a Christian certainly sins, a Christian cannot live a life of willful, deliberate, conscious, determined sin. Every born again person follows Jesus Christ, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (Jn 10:27) Following Jesus Christ, obeying Him, and submitting to His lordship is a quality that accompanies salvation.
Growth in Holiness
A general willingness to obey God results in a pattern of growth in virtue and godliness. All of God’s children will develop in holiness: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Heb 12:14) Our growth in sanctification is assured because it is the work of God: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10) We can be “confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Php 1:6)
This growth occurs in those that belong to Jesus Christ, whom He has chosen and sanctified, because they have an innate tendency to put Him first above all things, and to count themselves crucified with Him. “And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” (Gal 5:24) This means that no born again person will sacrifice obedience to God and submission to His will for their own personal comfort and interests as a manner of life.
Another way of saying this is that believers are led by God’s Spirit: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom 8:14) God’s ways and values are being expressed in and through the believer as he walks with God, and that God is constantly guiding his steps and ordering his life. (Ps 37:23, Php 2:13) It does not mean that the believer is constantly being given supernatural direction and revelation by “the spirit.” For further detail here, please reference the article The Voice of God.
Another characteristic common to all believers is a disposition to forgive others when sinned against. Our Lord said, “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Mt 6:14-15) There is no such thing as a saint who does not have his sins forgiven — all of their sins forgiven. This implies that the saint has forgiven men their trespasses … all of their trespasses. When others sin against you, if you are a believer you will not purpose in your heart to avenge yourself; rather, you will forgive. Though you may struggle with bitterness and anger and resentment, at the very least, you will not live, as a manner of life, in open retaliation against those who offend you. Those who live by the, “I don’t get mad, I get even” philosophy are not among the children of God. Saints of God are forgiving. For a complete treatment of the nature and scope of forgiveness and the related concerns of bitterness and resentment, please consider the article: Forgive.
Things That Accompany
These are things that accompany salvation: loving God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, loving others, obeying Torah, growing in holiness, and forgiving others as a pattern of life. If a soul is saved these things always manifest in some degree. No saved soul is completely void of any of them.
God calls us to examine ourselves, to test whether we be in the faith, prove our own selves. (2Co 13:5) Give diligence to make your calling and election sure, ensure that any feeling of security you may have in God is not mere presumption. (2Pe 1:10)