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Can You Really Have Assurance of Your Salvation?

Imagine that you are about to be wheeled into an operating room. You are in need of open-heart surgery. You have found the best cardiologist you can find. Right before you are going to be pushed through the doors into the OR, the doctor comes up to your bedside. You look at him imploringly and ask, “So, doctor, do you feel confident that you will be able to fix my heart?

The doctor shrugs his shoulders and says, “Well, I won’t really know till after the surgery. If you make it, then yeah. If you don’t make it, then I guess not.

This would probably not put your mind at ease one bit. You might even be tempted to jump off of that bed and run for your life, literally.

This is a silly example, but it is very similar to the way many people view their salvation. Many people struggle to know that they are really, truly, 100% saved and on their way to heaven. Even if they may not admit it, they often think that they will not really know until they get there.

The problem with this type of thinking is that it usually leads to much doubt, and doubt can lead to all kinds of problems in the life of a Christian.

Can You Really Have Assurance of Your Salvation?

Why People Doubt Their Salvation

We have all met Christians, or perhaps have been a Christian, who struggle with doubting their salvation. In extreme cases, I have seen individuals who feel they need to get reassurance of their salvation every week, or many times a week. I feel compassion for these people because their hearts and minds are never at peace. Why do people struggle with this?

One reason people struggle with doubting their salvation is because to the human mind something as important as eternal salvation should not be as simple as the Gospel. God made the plan of salvation very simple, but it is only simple if you have faith. If you do not have faith then the plan of salvation sounds ridiculously simple that it’s complicated.

In Acts 16:30-31 the Philippian jailer wanted to know how to be saved. The Apostle Paul summarizes it as simply as possible.

30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Acts 16:30-31

Many people begin to doubt when they begin to overthink all of the spiritual changes that must take place in order for someone to go from being a bad person to a good person. Jesus does not focus on that. Jesus is not concerned so much about whether you are a bad person or a good person. Jesus wants you to believe that He and He alone can make you the best person, a clean person, a saved person.

Doubt sneaks in when we try, with our human brains, to think of some way we can stay involved in this process, something that we can do to save ourselves. It all boils down to pride. Most people who doubt their salvation would never dream of saying they are prideful. They likely do not even realize it, but really it is a matter of pride. Doubt is a product of thinking that God’s plan is not enough. There must be something more I can do to really seal the deal. That is pride.

This is why Jesus uses a little child in Matthew 18 to explain to adults the right attitude one must have toward salvation.

2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,

3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 18:2-4

He uses a child because most little children have perfect faith in their caretakers. Sadly, even little children who do not have good caretakers still have faith in them up to a certain age. Perhaps you have known even older children, or adults who do not have good parents, and yet they keep coming back for love or approval no matter how many times they are disappointed. They just can’t seem to shake the belief that this person will eventually do me right.

We have a loving Heavenly Father who has never disappointed, has always been faithful, yet we doubt him. Children can have strong faith because they do not overthink. They do not analyze. Our doubt creeps in when we begin looking for more than God provided in His word. God simply said believe. Jesus said come follow me.

The Effects of Doubt

Once doubt sets into the life of the believer a whole world of trouble can be stirred up for you spiritually. Doubt is the number one tool of Satan. In every account of Satan tempting someone in the Bible, he uses doubt.

In the Garden of Eden, he comes to Eve with slippery questions that make her doubt.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Genesis 3:1

Notice he didn’t come into the garden and try to frighten her into eating the fruit. He also did not come in and try to command that she eat the fruit. No, he comes in with subtle questions that cause her to doubt what God originally said.

In Matthew 4 when Satan comes to tempt Jesus Himself, you see the same method.

3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

Matthew 4:3-6

There is that slippery little word, “if.” Satan does not say, “You are not the Son of God.” He makes no definitive statement. He says, “if.” Satan knew better than anyone that Jesus was the Son of God. Satan didn’t doubt, but he wanted Jesus to doubt.

Satan doesn’t even doubt our salvation. Think about that for a minute. The only one who knows more about the plan of salvation than God, is Satan. Satan knows all about our souls. He knows that we will live for eternity. He knows that we only have two options. He understands the plan of salvation inside and out. He also knows the joys of heaven and the torture of hell. He knows even better than the angels. He does not doubt. He knows exactly who is saved and who isn’t.

He also knows that once you are saved, he cannot ever touch your soul again, but the next best thing is to make you doubt. Because once you are doubting, he can take away your peace, your joy and your effectiveness as a Christian.

Doubt will always have a profound affect on our choices. We notice that Eve was doing just fine until doubt entered. Once doubt took hold in her heart, the doors were wide open to sin. If you think about it, all sin really has it origin in doubt.

We doubt that God is enough, so we go seeking more. We doubt that our spouse is enough. We doubt that our money is enough. We doubt that our joy is enough. Once we doubt, we go searching for ways to fill the hole that the doubt has left. The things that we use to fill that hole are sin.

Doubt also has a profound affect on our thankfulness, or perhaps it is a lack of thankfulness that brings on doubt. Either way, the two are intricately intertwined. When we are thankful, when we are grateful, we are acknowledging that God is good. We are acknowledging that God knows best, that God is the author of all and all is a gift. When you start doubting, then that thankfulness goes right out the window. You are suddenly discontent, and left grasping at those other things that you think will fill the hole.

Our doubt can also leave us bitter. Our doubt, even though it is a fabrication, feels real to us. We perceive that we have been done wrong, that we were tricked. So, we become bitter and angry. That bitterness and anger is aimed toward God, when God has not changed at all. The ironic thing is that humans begin to doubt and then accuse Christianity of disappointing them. God never changed. Christianity never changed. The individual changed.

Another affect of doubt is that it is contagious. Once you start doubting, you can quickly spread it to other people. This is especially true of impressionable people in your life, or people who look up to you. Children are highly susceptible to this. When adults, parents, leaders and teachers begin to doubt or ultimately turn their back on God and Christianity, it causes the young people around them to doubt as well.

I am reminded of a wonderful Christian man I once knew. He was considered a pillar in our church. He was a leader and many of the young parents looked up to him. He was an amazing father. One night we arrived at church to a scene of mourning. We quickly learned that this man had taken his own life.

The church was devastated. We got through the next few weeks, trying to comfort his wife. But it was several weeks after this man’s death that I saw some of the long-term affects his death would have on people. His death especially affected the young fathers in the church. I recall one young dad even going as far as to say, “If someone like him couldn’t handle it, I don’t have a chance.”

It was doubt that initially crept into this great man’s heart, ultimately culminating in suicide. That doubt did not stay contained, nor did it die with him, but rather the doubt lived on in the hearts of those young dads who had looked up to him. Guarding our hearts against doubt is not only beneficial to us, but it will also benefit those around us in the long run.

How to Kill Doubt

In Matthew 4, Jesus shows us the recipe for fighting doubt. Satan came to Jesus with the same slippery, doubt-inducing questions that he comes to us with. He says to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God…” He comes to us and says, “If you are really saved…” A problem comes up in our lives and Satan slips in. “If you were really saved you wouldn’t have these problems. If you were really saved wouldn’t God deliver you from this? If you were really saved, why hasn’t God answered your prayers about this?” On and on he goes at every opportunity.

When you are down emotionally or physically he comes. When you are disappointed and when you are angry he comes whispering doubt. But Jesus knew how to stop the doubt. Jesus knew how to shut Satan up. In each instance in Matthew 4, we see Jesus using the Word of God.

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

5 Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,

6 And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

7 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

8 Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;

9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Matthew 4:4-10

It is written, as it is written. Again and again Jesus goes back to the Word of God. God’s word is our best weapon against doubt, because God’s Word is the only source of truth. We must renew our faith that God’s word is true. We must cling to the fact that God’s Word is our message from heaven concerning anything we are dealing with on earth. If we can rally our faith on this, claim His word, we can banish doubt. We will not find assurance of our salvation except in the source of our salvation.

Here are several verses to put in your arsenal against the attacks of Satan.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

John 5:24

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 3:36

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

John 10:28

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

1 John 5:11-13

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:13

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

These verses, as well as many others, are your most powerful weapon against doubt. Relying on the Word of God was good enough for our Savior during his time of temptation with doubt, and it is good enough for us as well.

Doubt and Our Habits

It is also important to note that doubt can often be a by-product of our habits. There are certain habits that are more likely to produce doubt than others. For instance, if you are constantly filling your mind with entertainment or information that is contrary to the Word of God, then doubt can easily creep in.

This happens often when we expose ourselves to entertainment. Things that do not glorify God, or things that are in direct opposition to God’s will and way, can mess with our thought life. Obviously every movie or television show we watch will not be overtly Christian, but movies and television shows that are overtly sinful or wicked can have an impact on our thought life. While entertainment that is Christian in tone, or at least neutral in tone will not have a negative impact. This also applies to books and media that we read as well as to music we listen to.

Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit to keep careful watch over what you allow into your mind in the form of entertainment and media. These things will affect your heart, your mind, and ultimately your confidence in your salvation.

Another factor that can greatly affect your confidence in your salvation is the people you surround yourself with. People can be one of the most powerful influences in our lives. This is why you should choose your friends carefully. It may not be quite so easy when it comes to your family members, but even then you can choose how much time you spend around certain people.

If you have a situation in which you must be around someone who is a bad influence, or around someone who feeds your doubts, you need to cover yourself in prayer each time you must be around this person. You need to pray for their salvation as well.

On the flip side, spending time with fellow Christians who are strong and confident in their salvation, can help you strengthen your own confidence. Christian fellowship is very important to a healthy Christian life. Just as God told Adam in the garden that it was not good for him to be alone, it is also not good for us to be alone either.

Another habit that we can nurture which will help dismiss doubts, is to stay busy for our Lord. When we are busy serving God and ministering to others there is often little room for doubt. This is not to say that staying busy is a cure all, but if you are not busy for the Lord and you are experiencing doubt, then getting busy for God maybe very helpful.

It is also very important to keep your prayer and devotional life healthy. Spending time in God’s word every day can help to strengthen your belief and your faith. God’s word is a living word and it must be consumed daily. Doubt often creeps in when we are not keeping our devotional life healthy.

Conclusion

All Christians experience doubt concerning their salvation at least at some point. You do not have to suffer with this every day, though. Taking hold of God’s word and using it as your weapon to fight off these doubts can be very powerful.

Our habits are also powerful influencers over our thought life and whether or not we will doubt. What are you putting into your mind? Who are you spending time with? How are you spending your time? All of these affect your thought life and ultimately your confidence in your salvation.

The Word of God assures us that once someone has accepted Jesus as their Savior, they are saved for all of eternity. God is faithful to keep His Promise. All He asks of you is to believe it with confidence.