Perhaps the most important question you can as yourself is, “Do I know Jesus?”

Knowing Jesus means being a follower of Jesus. There is a lot at stake in the answer to this question. Your eternal destiny depends on it. That’s a big deal.

What’s scarier is Jesus made it clear many will stand in front of him after they die, thinking they are going to heaven, only to be rejected. His words are recorded in Matthew 7:21-23:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

So how do you know for certain if you are a follower of Jesus? How do you know you will not be one of those who stands before Jesus thinking you are getting into heaven only to be rejected?

The answer is surprisingly simple. The Apostle John provided perhaps the clearest answer in 1st John 2:3. He wrote, “We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands.”

Here are three very important behavior principles from John’s words:

1. Behavior never lies: People who know Jesus obey Jesus. The reason is when you come to know Jesus you experience forgiveness, the righteousness of Jesus, and receive the Holy Spirit. This process always produces heart change and heart change always results in behavior change. Through the power of the Holy Spirit a person who truly knows Jesus begins to behave more and more like Jesus.

Where there was lying there is now telling the truth. Where there was adultery there is now faithfulness to one’s spouse. Where there was course language and joking there is now wholesome talk. Where there was selfishness there is now looking to the interests of others in addition to your own. Where there was bitterness there is now forgiveness. Where there was anger there is now gentleness. Where there was hatred there is now love.

2. Behavior is always only diagnostic: Behavior never brings salvation. It cannot create forgiveness. It cannot create righteousness. It cannot cause the Holy Spirit to live inside of you. Behaving like Jesus by keeping his commands is simply the evidence of forgiveness, righteousness, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Behavior is the evidence of knowing Jesus, not the procuring cause. The procuring cause of knowing Jesus is always faith and repentance. The Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”

3. Behavior is never perfect: When you know Jesus, your behavior will become a lot more like Jesus, but will never be perfect. The evidence of knowing Jesus, therefore, is never the complete absence of sin. Followers of Jesus continue to sin. The issue is one of desire, magnitude, and regret.

Desire: Do you desire to behave more like Jesus? If so, this is a good indicator you know Jesus.

Magnitude: Is most of your behavior according to the commands of Jesus? As a whole, is your ungodly behavior a smaller part of your life? If so, this is a good indicator you know Jesus.

Regret: When you to behave in an ungodly manner by breaking a command of Jesus, how do you feel? Do you feel bad or do you not care? If you feel bad this is a good sign you know Jesus. That bad feeling is called repentance. It feels spiritually like God dropping an anvil on your head. The anvil on the head is a good sign because the Holy Spirit produces repentance.

So do you know Jesus? If the answer is yes, rejoice and look forward to your eternal life. If you are not sure, ask Jesus to show you. He will.

If you don’t know Jesus, remember Jesus loves you and will always accept you if you invite him to be your Lord and Savior. He will forgive you. He will give you his righteousness. He will give you the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).