In order to answer the question, “How do you know if you are saved?” the answer begs the question, what are you saved from? Many people can tell you what they are “saved to,” but rarely understand what they are saved from.
The majority of people who claim to be believers can often state with confidence that they have been “saved” for the future and for future benefits. They are saved “to” heaven, a mansion over the hill-top, streets paved with gold, an eternal life in absolute perfection, even the forgiveness of “sins.” Some even have confidence in the fact that they are saved “to” things in the present, i.e. a better life, more money, heavenly blessings on earth, and many temporal goodies.
But, what are you saved from? When the gospel, which is being “peddled” today as consisting of such platitudes as, “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” or “Try God”, or “Do you want to go to heaven when you die, then just ask Jesus into your heart” people “get saved” for the wrong motivation.
Do you realize that you can pray the sinner’s prayer a hundred times and still not be saved? It isn’t the formula of a few words that saves a lost sinner. As unfortunate and tragic as it can be there will be a multitude of people who have “have asked Jesus into their hearts” who will not be saved.
One of the most tragic passages in Scripture is found in Matthew 7 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…on that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21a-22, ESV)
In order to be saved, the Holy Spirit of God must bring an individual (AKA “a sinner”) to the awareness of or the conviction of sin. And it is not merely “sins” that we commit, but the conviction of the guilt of the sin nature with which all human beings are born with.
Christian in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is an excellent example of the conviction of sin. Christian is weighed down by a great burden. That burden is the knowledge of sin, his sin. This burden is so great and unbearable that he must be delivered from it.
The Puritans viewed sin as a most monstrous and odious thing. Ralph Venning wrote, “It cannot but be extremely useful to let men see what sin is; how prodigiously vile, how deadly mischievous and therefore how monstrously ugly and odious a thing sin is.” 
Charles Spurgeon held that there were marks of true conversion. He believed that at least three (3) aspects needed to be present in the life of an individual that would give evidence of true salvation. Spurgeon looked for and asked the following questions of those who claimed to be believers:
- Did you know you were a sinner, unable to do anything toward saving yourself? Did you turn to God, begging for mercy, and did you entirely trust your soul to God?
- Did you enter a newness of life, experiencing a change of affections, and victory over sin? Do you have a love for the Lord and a desire to share him with others?
- Did you understand the doctrine of grace, recognizing that salvation did not begin with yourself or your own will, that your salvation was God’s choice, God’s action, and that God saved you and that God will keep you?
It is crucial that in order to answer the question of “how do you know you are saved? that one can answer the question of “what are you saved from?”
A sinner, in order to become saved must know that they are a sinner. As a sinner they are an affront to God. They must understand that God in angry with them, hates their deeds, has already judged them and condemned them. The sinner must “feel the weight of their sin.” Why? If you do not feel the weight of your sin there would be no reason to be saved.
Hence the question, “what are you saved from?”
It is not enough to merely acknowledge an awareness of “problems, mistakes, sins (in the sense of individual acts.) One must experience the crushing weight of the guilt of sin in order to desire to be saved from sin.
I am not saying we need to be an expert on harmartiology nor am I adding any “work” to salvation. If an individual is not driven to seek forgiveness and salvation because of the crushing burden of monstrous and odious sin, then why does an individual need or want salvation in the first place?
Those whom God has called unto himself (I Corinthians 1:2) has called them to repent (Acts 2:38) and be delivered from that crushing burden of sin. He calls sinners to turn from sin and to turn to him.
What are you saved from?