How do I know if I really love God? Dr. Rod Culbertson provides three diagnostic questions to help believers understand and be assured of their faith in God.
How do I know if I really love God? That is a great question. Actually, a few years ago I wrote a book and it was entitled Do I Love God? And I wasn’t really asking the question, “Do I personally love God?” Of course, I hope I do. But I was trying to get people that ask that question, and then read this book to answer it: how do you know if you love God? And I really give sort of a threefold answer to the question.
Do I Believe in God Rightly?
The first is, “How do I know I love God,” or, “Do I love God?” is, “Do I believe in God rightly?” It’s a theological-biblical answer. So first I have to understand who God is, what his character is like, and I’ve got to have faith in his Son, Jesus Christ. But I’ve got to have the right theological answer. And this book is premised out of 1 John, the book of 1 John, because John is answering that question for early believers who are being assailed by all sorts of heresies. And he is trying to tell them, “The first thing you need to do is believe the right thing about Christ. Is he the Son of God, did he come in the flesh? Was he the God-man?” Et cetera. So do I have those right thoughts about God? And that’s where it all starts. That’s why revelation is so important, that we understand Scripture. Do I believe the right thing about God? But it is conceivable that you can believe the right things about God and not love God. And so I try to go towards the next category that John addresses, and that is the heart or the emotions. Do I believe the right things?
Are My Feelings Moved Toward God?
And then, when I hear that truth, am I stirred in my emotions? Am I convicted of my sin? Am I drawn to God the Father, who loves me enough to send me his Son? Am I convicted of my sin? Am I drawn to God the Father, who loves me enough to send me his Son?And do I have even feelings towards God, right? So that’s part of devotion: believing the truth, but being impacted. And I tell the students, are you gripped? Do you sense the truth of forgiveness? Do you see the cross and you’re stirred and moved by it? So that’s the second part, is believing it, feeling it, so to speak, engaging it into your heart and your soul. But then—it is possible to believe it and to feel it—it may not be possible, but it seems possible—to believe it, feel it, but do nothing about it.
Do I Strive to Obey?
And so that’s the third element, which is obedience, which is responding, which is action. And John addresses this in 1 John all the time, about keeping his commands and being obedient. You live in the light. You don’t walk in the darkness. So how do I love God? I spend time in his word. I meditate on it. I get gripped by the truths that I find while reading it and meditating on it. I internalize it, and then out of that flows the Christian life, that is, the action, the obedience, the service, all of those things. And so really, those three tests, as John lays them out, are one heart, but these three dimensions. And of course, RTS has the slogan, “A mind for truth, a heart for God.” And I’ve often said in my classes, “Well, we need the third element,” right? So we’ve come up with “a life for ministry,” something like that. And the other night in my devotions, I was reading, and it hit me. It’s a supernatural life, right? It’s a mind for truth, a heart for God, and it’s a supernatural life that flows out of those things. And it’s Christ living in me through his spirit. So that would be my answer to “How do I know that I love God?” or, “How do I develop a love for God?” or, “Do I love God?” You can read the book.