An individual I know believes he can tell if a person is a Christian just by simply looking at them, what are your opinions on this?
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The Bible repeatedly says that appearances can be deceiving to human eyes (1 Samuel 16:7), and also that a person is known by his deeds, rather than by his appearance (Matthew 7:15-20). People (and even Satan) can be very skillful at masking their true selves (2 Corinthians 11:14), or at deceiving themselves into thinking that God approves of their actions (Luke 18:11-12). Thus, while Christians should live and conduct themselves in such a way that people notice that they are different (in a positive sense) from others (1 Peter 3:15), and while the Holy Spirit can grant discernment in spiritual matters to Christians, I do not think that the Bible supports the idea that it is consistently possible to determine the spiritual standing in God's eyes of total strangers just by looking at them.
I humbly submit for your consideration that within what is generally called Christendom there are many varying degrees of believers, as an example like those who are on the quite fashionable cheer leading squads of the various alphabet communities and those who are not. (1 Corinthians 15:33; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 6:14) That said; I summit that it’s indeed possible to spot or make a Christian warrior from a Sunday only poser or unbeliever, much like one could spot a vehicle driver who might not stop as required by that stop sign.(Judges 17:6; John 7:24) Parents use their skill set everyday when dealing with their children and the questions of daily child rearing such as little Johnnie, who broke that lamp? And various warriors including police officers and detectives operate on a more refined skill set that aids them in their hazardous daily duties (quick now friend or foe?). Often operating in a realm unknown to the generally disinterested passing public; there are decisions of life and death being made by the sheepdogs that protect polite civil society. Some of these sheepdogs are your fellow citizens trained and licensed to carry concealed firearms, who generally move undetected among the disinterested sheep. And if done correctly every millisecond 24/7 this general genteel society does not realize the evil that is kept at bay daily, or that the waltz continues with evil as society skates on very thin ice thanks to unnamed others. (Mark 4:11) With a little situational awareness and discernment one may indeed separate the wheat from it’s stock and in these our current perilous times the importance, should not be overlooked or flippantly dismissed friend. (Proverbs 22:3; Proverbs 27:12) Bottom Line When meeting a new “Christian” somewhere in the conversation. I’ll asymmetrically quiz them about their position pertaining to Israel or it’s people in general? And their answers will help govern my assessment and really tell me all I need to know at that point. It is indeed possible to discern and know them, by their fruit or lack there of. And I've found that generally true Christians are a giving of themselves, very happy people, no matter any limits placed on them by their current worldly situation. In The Lord’s Freedom a sheepdog standing….warrior on
In short, basically you are asking: is it possible to judge whether a person is Christian or not by mere appearance? Okay let me quote Jesus on judging: "Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly" John 7:24. Two things in this verse: 1. Don't judge by mere appearance. 2. We are to judge, but we ought to judge correctly. Biblically, it is wrong to judge people by mere appearance. Then how do we judge correctly? Note what Jesus said: ""Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad; for a tree is known by its fruit." Mat 12:33. “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Mat 7:15-20 If you read these two passages in Matthew, it's clear. The correct way to judge is not by face value but by fruit value. Always, look for fruit in the lives of people. Remember, a bad tree doesn't bear good fruit and like wise a good tree doesn't bear bad fruit. Though someone may appear to be like a Christian, his fruit will reveal him. Hence, this doesn't happen over night. Sometimes we can immediately know whether they are true Christian, but sometime it may take some time for us to discover them. It's a matter of time, but the only way to know is through this fruits. Hope this helps.
I believe the spiritual gift of discerning spirits would make this possible for some with that gift. That is not to say that everyone with the gift uses it properly nor that the gift works every time it's possessor wants it too, rather every time the Holy Spirit wants it to. Therefore, if you are passing someone on the street and there is a reason you should know if they are a Christian or not, then either by the use of this gift or a manifestation of the Spirit it would be possible, in my opinion.
Is it possible to tell if a person is or isn't a Christian by what he/she looks like? Well, If we simply take Gods word for what it says without adding "our own ideas of what a Christian should look like", then no, it is not possible, Ephesians 2:8-9  For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast. Faith is invisible to human eye, for example, a construction company hires an unsaved individual who is required to wear a uniform while at work, a few months after starting at the new the job, he/she gets saved, continues to work for the same company wearing the same uniform, doing the same work, still looks the same as before but is now saved, which part of the individual has changed? The mind? The heart? If it's the heart, could a heart surgeon now tell if that is a Christian if he/she was to perform heart surgery on the individual? In my opinion it is not possible.
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