I was asked this question earlier this summer and this is my answer. What is yours?
Matt 12:33,35 says, “A tree is identified by its fruit. If a tree is good it’s fruit will be good. If a tree is bad, it’s fruit will be bad… A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.”
We need to be made good in the core of our being. In fact, we need to completely die and be recreated in a new nature (Gal 5:24). Romans 6:3-4 says, “Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” (See also Rom. 6:6-7 & Eph 4:20-24)
Having died to our old nature we are reborn by the power of the Spirit, the same power that raise Christ from the dead (Eph 1:19,20), now our spirit becomes alive by the Holy Spirit. In John 20:22 Jesus breathed on his disciples saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” This was pointing directly to when God breathed life into Adam’s lungs, giving him life. When we receive the Holy Spirit (not necessarily the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which happened at Pentecost – after this encounter with Jesus) our spirits are given life. We are now again able to have communion with God as our body and soul are put in proper order under our spirit, which was given new life by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:15,16, “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” Eph. 2:18 “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.”
Therefore, the primary inward evidence of salvation is restored communion with God the Father through receiving and being guided by the Holy Spirit. With the receiving of the Holy Spirit as an inward working force we see His fruits in our life as we are now a “good tree.” The internal fruits of this tree will be such as listed in Gal. 5:22-23. You will find love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control are your new natural way of life, springing out of your soul as an internal spring of living water (John 4:14), bubbling up within yourself. (Past wounds, lies, and unresolved sin will pollute this river of God and resolution must be sought for all unhealed wounds, but these things are unnatural for this new creation.)
Having the Holy Spirit, your eyes will be opened to see: 1. The glory of God as the veil (spiritual blindness) is removed (2 Cor. 3:16-18). 2. Revelation of scripture (as opposed to simply reading it) as the Spirit leads you into all truth (John 16:13). 3. God’s deep secrets will be revealed (1 Cor. 2:10). 4. The Spirit himself will teach you directly through an anointing (this may come after baptism in the Spirit as it is referred to as an anointing in 1 John 2:27). These things are a fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah and the promised new covenant. Jer. 31:33-34:
“But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
Again, we see a promise and God fulfilling it in all fullness on our behalf. When we turn to God placing an active faith in his promises, this is the kind of internal effect we will see in our lives.