Can we tell if someone is saved or not?

I see a lot of Christians judging others these days, and I don’t mean as in the verse in 2 Timothy 3:16.
I see people judging whether or not others are saved. That is not for us to decide, and I’ll tell you why.

First of all, I’ll start with myself as an example.
When I said the Sinner’s Prayer around 13 years ago, it meant nothing. Not that I didn’t want to believe in God, but the person selling Him to me had the gift of the gab, she really knew how to sell things. She still does. The only problem with that was, I didn’t follow through and the person who led me to Him didn’t disciple me as she probably ought to have. 
We had a falling out not long after this and didn’t speak for many years.
I was basically just left up to my own devices. I continued drinking, smoking and everything else that was bad. I didn’t feel bad about it in the least. I just continued on my merry way.

Fast forward about 10 years and failed relationships (even an abusive one), jobs and friendships later and I somehow renewed contact with this person.
She became my counsellor and we developed a friendship again.
After living a life of sin, I did a “re-commitment” prayer and supposedly re-committed my life to Jesus.
Looking back, I’m not sure of the validity of doing a “re-commitment” prayer because Jesus died once for me, he didn’t re-commit to dying for me again after my living a decade of sin.
I digress, so back to my point. After I did this so called re-commitment prayer, I was still a heavy drinker, relied heavily on anti-depressants, was in a relationship with someone and swore like a sailor. Any long time Christian, and come to think of it, any non-believer, would never have thought I was saved just by judging (looking upon) my actions. They would have thought I was just like the rest of the world.

But, and there’s always a ‘but’ with me, God was working in my life. Looking back, I know He had His hand on me for my whole life. I’m sure I should have died a couple of times, in various ways, but I didn’t. I am still here to tell the tales.
It took me months to cut down on my drinking and to wean myself off my anti-depressants. It took even longer to stop the foul language. I still let out a few clangers, but it’s usually when I’ve been pushed beyond any reasonable boundary. I don’t like it when those words come out of my mouth, but I can’t seem to stop them sometimes.
I have also found that I see sin differently now, and I also view the world in a different light, or should I say ‘darkness’.

So, as you can see, I didn’t always appear to be saved, if you looked at my outward life. What you wouldn’t have seen though was God silently working in the background, changing me and refining me.
I’ve had to learn some harsh lessons along the way, and I have lost friends, and to a certain extent, some family members. It’s not that they have completely cut me off, but they don’t contact me as often as they used to, they seem to be distancing themselves from me. Even some that claim to be believers.

I am guilty of looking at the outward lives of people and thinking that they are not saved, but lets face it, I’m not God and I don’t know what He’s doing in their lives.
I pointed this out to someone once and he said that we can say if people are saved or not and to look at someone like Marilyn Manson (if you don’t know of him, he’s a singer and enjoys shocking people with horrible make up and terrible lyrics etc) as an example. Ok, on the outside he looks awful, lives an awful life probably, but who are we to say that he’s not in some huge spiritual battle for his soul and it’s just an outward reaction to that?! Who are we to say that God is not working in his life? We don’t know that for sure, so that’s why it’s not our job to say whether someone is saved or not. We do not know what God is doing in their lives, and while he might not be saved right now, he could very well be tomorrow, or next week, or next year. We just don’t know.

So next time you start to think that someone is unsaved (I am guilty of doing all too often), just remember that we have no idea what God is doing in their lives. If he can save someone like me, or a mind control victim (who has no control over their thoughts let alone their lives) then he can save anyone, even the likes of Marilyn Mason.

There is a flip side to this also. Just because someone appears to be saved, they might not be. They can show certain fruits, but because those fruits aren’t of the Holy Spirit, they are probably not saved.
Many people are kindhearted, gentle, forgiving and do many charitable works, but that doesn’t mean they are saved. Even people who talk the talk and appear to walk the walk. 
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:22,23