Because those in christianity often teach a false path to salvation, teaching that it is a decision that man makes, rather than a gift given by the Father in His timing (after the trying of one’s faith), what is then deemed in christian circles to be the “evidence” that someone is saved is simply that he had a “changed life.”
So, it is common that outward manifestations of good works vs. bad works (works of the flesh) are what christians often use as their “evidence” of salvation. The problem is, works of the flesh have nothing to do with salvation, for salvation is not by works, but by belief.
Using the “changed life” as evidence of salvation is a false standard, as unbelievers can change their lives under their own power—and still not have the Holy Spirit, which is the scriptural definition of an unbeliever. Folks who successfully utilize the tools of Alcoholics Anonymous have been known to change their lives drastically by becoming sober, and no longer having a physical dependency on alcohol or drugs. But, that isn’t salvation.
Some people who have severe anger issues can employ methods taught in anger management courses to lessen their anger problems, and thus, change their lives in a big way. But, that isn’t salvation.
Anything that can be accomplished by one’s own initiative and under one’s own power, while sometimes drastic in outward appearance, is not what salvation is. And, physical manifestations of all sorts can be counterfeited by demons (tongues, healings, etc.).
Take the thief on the cross. He believed in Yah’s salvation (Messiah Yahoshua), he confessed before others who Messiah is, and he was saved—and the evidence he was saved was that he was TOLD he was saved. He didn’t have to demonstrate a “changed life.” He didn’t have to prove that he was no longer a thief. He was saved, and he knew it, because he was told.
Neither good works nor bad works have anything to do with salvation, for salvation is not by works, but by faith (belief). And, that brings us to the term “whitewashed tomb.” Because we know that term is legitimate, since Messiah Himself used it against the lost Pharisees, then we must consider its meaning.
A “whitewashed tomb” is someone who LOOKS like he is a child of Yah on the outside (like he is saved), but is still dead on the inside—his spirit has never been resurrected by the indwelling Holy Spirit. It’s entirely possible for someone to look like the most committed believer around, but still be an unbeliever, because he has never received the Holy Spirit. As Romans 8:9 teaches, such a person is not Messiah’s because he doesn’t have the Holy Spirit.
So, those who claim they are saved because they have changed lives are likely “whitewashed tombs” – they look like they are Messiah’s outwardly, but they have never been told they were adopted (which is why they think their outward lifestyles are the evidence of salvation). Thus, they are hot on the outside, but cold on the inside. What does that make them? Lukewarm (hot AND cold make lukewarm).
Teaching the false path to salvation (that it’s a decision made by man), christianity then needed to invent its own confirmation of that salvation, so it was determined that things of the flesh were confirmations of salvation.
Christians often look to someone getting dunked in water, or changing their lifestyles, or they point to verses in scripture—even though scripture cannot confirm anybody’s salvation. Scripture teaches the doctrines of salvation, but scripture is not alive, so it cannot confirm that an individual has actually received the Holy Spirit.
Salvation is not determined by a person’s decision, nor is a person’s physical works the evidence that one is saved. No, the only one who can confirm that a person is born again is the Holy Spirit Himself. And, when the Holy Spirit indwells someone who has believed in Messiah, and has endured in that belief (his faith has been tried, or tested), then the Holy Spirit will testify directly to that person that he is a child of Yah.
And, He will do that in the only manner of direct communication that cannot be counterfeited by Satan. He will show the believer in a dream (subconsciousness, which Satan has no access to) that he has been made a child of Yah—he has been born again, and will not be harmed by judgment.
Now, will someone who is born again experience a changed life? Well, he should, but that doesn’t always happen. One who has been made a child always has the choice of being an obedient child or a disobedient child. But, he is a child nonetheless.
Those who have been made righteous by the indwelling Holy Spirit, who also choose to be obedient in the flesh (make themselves holy), will be rewarded for that in eternity. Those who have been made righteous, but who choose to be disobedient in the flesh (they are righteous, but they do not make themselves holy), will lose that reward, but, as children, they still have eternal life (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
For more information: Do Sinners Go to Heaven?