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Lewis then gives us a realistic description of the post-conversion life of a child. He writes of Eustace,
It would be nice, and fairly nearly true, to say that “from that time forth Eustace was a different boy.” To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.4
In other words, while the child wasn’t perfect, there was a marked change in his life now that he had allowed Aslan to “un-dragon” him.
While this illustration can give us an idea about what conversion looks like in a child, how can we know whether or not our child is a Christian?
Fortunately, Jesus gives us some principles to follow in discerning the spiritual state of another person. First, He warns that we must be careful when judging another person; we must hold ourselves to the same standards of holiness with which we critique others (Matt.7:1–5). In other words, whether we’re trying to discern the conversion of our child or someone else, we must apply the same basic criteria to ourselves.
Second, Jesus says that it is possible to discern the spiritual vitality of other people by the “fruit” they produce in their lives. Those who are rooted in Jesus will produce good and healthy “fruit.” Those who have not experienced the spiritual healing that only Jesus can give will bear “thorns and thistles” (Matt.7:15–20; John 15:4–6). Paul later elaborates on this idea when he says that the follower of Jesus will exhibit the fruit of the Spirit in growing measure: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In contrast, the nonbeliever will continue to produce the fruit of the sinful nature: hatred, discord, jealousy, sexual immorality, anger, and lying, to name a few examples (Gal. 5:16–25). In other words, our actions are evidence of whether or not our hearts and mind have been transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit. This doesn’t mean that Christians will live sinless lives, or that non-Christians will always appear to be bad people. However, there will be a noticeable qualitative difference in the way the Christian lives following true conversion.
Third, Jesus makes it clear that salvation isn’t just intellectual assent, merely confessing that Jesus is Lord. He says that on Judgment Day, many will say, “Lord, Lord,” and Jesus will say, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:21–23). Authentic faith in Christ involves a heart that truly believes (Rom. 10:9) and is evidenced by changes in thought, word, and deed. So, while the profession of faith, kneeling by a bedside, or responding to an altar call at church is important, it must be accompanied by a transformation of the heart seen in daily life.
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