CHRISTIAN LIFE & GROWTH
When You Doubt Your Salvation
Lea Ann McCombs
Many Christians struggle with doubts about their salvation at times. Sometimes it has to do with our various temperaments and personalities. Some people are more timid than others, more doubtful of decisions they make, or have a low self-worth. Second Corinthians 13:5 does counsel us to "examine ourselves, to see if we be in the faith." However, it is important to remember that the God who saved us wants us to be secure in our relationship with Him. He doesn't want us to doubt.
Ephesians 2:8-9 gives us a solid rock upon which to plant our feet. It says, "By grace you have been saved, through faith, and not of yourselves. It is a gift of God..." A gift. Sometimes in our concern about following Jesus and staying true to Him, we forget that our salvation is a gift. A gift is something we did not earn and have no right to demand. It is freely offered by someone who values us.
It is GRACE that saves us. God's grace. He made the choice to pardon our sin and place it instead on His own Son. It is not even our faith that saves us, but the grace of God. We take hold of that grace through faith. In other words, when we choose to believe that He is offering us this gift, we are exercising faith. Our part in this is very small; His is enormous. Our faith wavers and weakens at times. If we depended upon our faith to save us, we would all live in fear.
Imagine that you adopted a child of another race. He became yours legally and you loved him dearly. He began to love you back, but sometimes he would look in the mirror and become afraid because he looked nothing like you. He might even get upset and accuse you of not loving him or not wanting him because he was different. He didn't really understand what adoption meant, so he lived in fear that you might send him back if he didn't do everything just right. How would you, as the parent, feel about that? As the older, wiser adult, you understood that he was yours no matter what and you loved him even when he messed up. You even celebrated the fact that he looked different because it made him special. You also knew that the longer he lives with you and gets to know you, he will begin to look and act like you. He will take on a family resemblance.
That's how God must feel about us. He paid a high price to adopt us as His sons and daughters. He knows we look nothing like Him at first, but He celebrates our differences because He made us that way. He knows that as we submit to Him, live with Him, and get to know Him, we will begin to take on a family resemblance. We begin to look, talk, and act like our Father as we study, grow, and learn about Him. His goal for each of us is that we begin to look more and more like our Brother, Jesus (Romans 8:29).
The examination we need to do involves not only a mental check of what we agree with in our heads, but a heart check of who we follow with our lives. "Believing in Jesus" does not mean that we merely agree with the facts of the Bible about Jesus' death and resurrection for our sin (Romans 10:9-10). We must look in our hearts and ask ourselves Who we run to. Whatever we run to for direction, guidance, correction, and comfort is our god. It may be friends, family, money, or self, but we all have a functional god. We may profess Jesus, but our lives may indicate that we really delight in something or someone else far more.
Jesus said the first and most important commandment was to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength" (Mark 12:30). None of us is perfect at that. It can take a lifetime of allowing God to bring us to the place where He is all we want. But if it is our heart's desire to get there, and we are participating with God in bringing us there, then He understands that. That's what it means that Jesus is Lord of our lives. We desire to please Him more than we desire to please ourselves and our lives indicate those priorities.
If you struggle with doubt, there are some practical ways you can examine yourself.
1. Since the Holy Spirit knows you better than anyone, ask Him to search your heart (Psalm 139:23). Ask Him to reveal areas of your life that are not under His control and then give them to Him. Ask Him to show you what you love more than Him. Surrender that and ask that He would fill you with love for Him alone.
2. Are there clear areas of disobedience in your life? It is our duty as His children to study His word for ourselves so we know what He desires of us. Most things are clear if we really want to know the truth. If the scripture calls something a sin and we are doing it anyway, that is disobedience and can hinder our fellowship with God.
3. Are you being faithful in the things you do know to do, such as prayer, giving, becoming involved with a local church, etc.? When we are faithful in little things, He can trust us with more (Luke 16:10).
4. What are you filling your mind and heart with? Whatever we feed, grows stronger. When we feed our flesh on the world's offerings (TV, movies, music, ungodly friendships) our flesh stays strong. But when we fill our lives with those which strengthen our spirit, our spiritual strength increases. Whatever we delight in, invest in, focus on, and pour ourselves into...that is where our heart is (Matthew 6:21).
None of these things is a method of earning your salvation. Remember, it is a gift. But these are ways we can test our own hearts to make certain we belong to Jesus (2 Corinthians 13:5). You might find the book Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by J.D. Greear encouraging. It can help you see whether there are errors in your thinking and guide you toward confidence in your Heavenly Father's love and acceptance of you.
Image Credit: asenat29; "Gift; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Salvation | Biblical-Truth | Theological-Beliefs
comments powered by Disqus
Published on 10-8-14