Living in the Assurance of Eternal Security
Living in the Assurance of Eternal Security
I have never met a Christian who has lost his salvation. However, I have met plenty who have lost their assurance. Our security rests in the hands of an unconditionally loving heavenly Father who gave His best, His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to ensure our fellowship with Him forever. Our assurance rests in understanding and accepting His provision and the truth that our salvation from sin's consequences is eternally secure.
There are three things that can rob us of our assurance. We must be on guard against them at all times:
1. Guilt, which arises when we do not seek forgiveness for our sins
2. Doubt that produces fear
3. Pride and feelings of self-sufficiency
Guilt Can Rob Us of Assurance
Guilt is the natural response to sin. Most people are trained from an early age to have an understanding between right and wrong. When we know we have done wrong, we expect a disciplinary response, and until we receive it, we live in anticipation of it. We know we deserve chastening or punishment. The anticipation of punishment and chastening is guilt.
The problem we have among born-again believers is that they have either ascribed the wrong “punishment” to their sins, or they have not sought and received the forgiveness that God makes available to them.
When we sin as believers, we must go immediately to our heavenly Father and ask His forgiveness. We must go with the assurance that when we ask, He forgives. We then must move forward in our lives, forgiving ourselves even as God has forgiven us. We are wise to seek to make amends to those we may have hurt by our sin, but we must not continue to harbor guilt for something God has forgiven.
Then, we must take the additional step of asking the Holy Spirit to help us not to engage in that sin again. We must choose to be sensitive to His leading us away from temptation. We must ask for His help to withstand temptation if temptation arises. (See Matt. 6:13.)
In my ministry, I have encountered a number of people who seem to think they have sinned too many times since their salvation for God to continue to extend His mercy and forgiveness to them. They say, in effect, “I've worn out God's patience. Surely He can't continue to forgive me since I've sinned so many times, or committed such a great sin.” The fact is, God's mercy and forgiveness cannot be measured in human terms; God's capacity to forgive is as infinite as God.
No matter the nature or quantity of your sin, there is a “cure” for sin and guilt: God's forgiveness! Turn to the Lord with your guilt and receive His forgiveness. Do not let guilt rob you of your assurance that you are saved and eternally secure in your relationship with your loving heavenly Father.
What the Word Says
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Doubt-Based Fear Can Rob Us of Assurance
Fear of God's punishments can cause paralysis in a believer, even to the point where the person no longer feels free to serve others or to minister in ways that the Holy Spirit desires. Such a gripping fear is a work of Satan. It is rooted in Satan's lies about God, which cause the person to doubt God's love and mercy.
The basic lie that Satan feeds to a believer is this: “God is a hard taskmaster; He demands absolute perfection and obedience. He punishes severely all those who disobey Him.” The devil will never tell a person how much God loves him, or how God has provided the means for a person to have his sin nature transformed through believing in Jesus Christ as his Savior.
What motivated God to send Jesus to die on the cross in your place? Love. Jesus said it plainly, “For God so loved the world … ” (John 3:16 italics added). The sole motivation for God's mercy and kindness is love—a love of such magnitude that all human illustrations fall short, a love that is unconditional at its core with no hidden agendas and no fine print. God's love is such that He accepts us just the way we are, but He refuses to leave us there.
Our expression of faith in Jesus places us into an unconditional, loving relationship with our heavenly Father. His offer of salvation is made to all people everywhere. Some choose to accept it by faith, others will reject it. But the offer remains. Such is the nature of God's love.
The more a person meditates and reflects on the nature of God's unconditional love, the more absurd it sounds when someone begins to talk about losing the salvation that was offered in such love. Why would God remove something He offers unconditionally? It makes no sense at all.
Certainly there are those who will abuse God's mercy and forgiveness. But God's love is so pure that He will not go back on His word even to those who abuse their relationship with Him. He remains faithful to the faithless. Nothing can separate us from God's love. No one can snatch us from His hand. Where sin abounds, grace superabounds. Anything less would be less than unconditional.
Any time you begin to doubt God's love for you, immerse yourself again in the Scriptures that speak of God's love, His forgiveness, and His free offer of salvation and everlasting life. Ask the Lord to help you to believe even more fully that He loves you. As one person cried out to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
Do not let a doubt-induced fear paralyze you and keep you from experiencing full assurance of your salvation and God's love for you.
Some begin to doubt God's love when they sin after they are born again and they experience God's chastening. They associate the pain and sorrow they feel with judgment and anger, rather than with love. The Lord chastens us out of His love, but what we feel when we are being chastened may not be feelings that we normally associate with love. A young child who is being spanked is likely not to think of his parent's love while the spanking is being administered, although the parent's love for the child never changes, and in fact, it is love that motivates the parent to discipline his child so that the child will experience a better future. What we feel is never a good gauge for what is truth. The truth remains that God loves us and His love toward us does not diminish, regardless of the severity of chastening we may receive.
What the Word Says
I called on Your name, O Lord,
From the lowest pit.
You have heard my voice:
“Do not hide Your ear
From my sighing, from my cry for help.”
You drew near on the day I called on You,
And said, “Do not fear!” (Lam. 3:55–57).
Pride Can Rob Us of Assurance
The third great enemy of our assurance of salvation is our own pride. It is an expression of pride to think or believe that we must contribute something to our own salvation—that we can do something to augment the work of Jesus on the cross. So many Christians try to compensate for their own sins. In the process, they eventually discover that they cannot do even those things that they want to do and know they should do! A spirit of striving sets in, and soon the person loses the joy of the Lord and becomes discouraged.
A person who is striving to do the “right things” in order to be pleasing to God and to ensure his own salvation is a person who is going to be far less fruitful in his life. He will not be fully yielded to the Holy Spirit, so that the Holy Spirit might produce the fruit of His own character in his life. (See Gal. 5:22, 25.) A spirit of striving produces tension, anxiety, and frustration—none of which are attractive to the person who has not yet responded to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The cure for pride, of course, is to bow before God in humility and say simply, “I surrender all. I give You all that I am, have, and ever will be or have. I am Yours. Do with me as You will.” A person who truly surrenders all to the Lord will soon discover that he receives all of the Lord in return! When we seek to try to live life on our own, the Lord is free to endue us with His life.
Some Christians regard their good works as a means of remaining “worthy” of God's love and salvation. Friend, if that is your position today, I must tell you: You can never be worthy of God's ongoing salvation of your soul on the basis of your works. The fact is, nothing you ever did or thought to do made you “good” enough to deserve the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Christ died for you while you were a sinner. If you had been capable of achieving perfection on your own, He would have had no reason to shed His blood for you. However, you are not capable of ever achieving perfection on your own or of transforming your own sin nature into a nature of righteousness before God. You were not worthy of your salvation, but praise God, Jesus Christ was worthy of winning that salvation for you! He took your place and He purchased for you a salvation that He then offered to you freely.
Now, as a believer in Christ Jesus, the Lord declares you worthy of eternal life. You are worthy of the Holy Spirit. You are now worthy because Jesus declares you to be worthy! Worthiness from God's perspective is never based upon what you have done, do, or will do. Worthiness is based solely on who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He declares on your behalf.
You can neither obtain nor ensure your salvation with good works; you can only receive God's salvation with a humble heart and submit your life to Him daily so that you might truly walk in His ways to the glory of His name.
• In your life, have you fully surrendered all to Christ Jesus? Are you still trying to do the “right things” in order to gain God's approval? Are you still trying to be “worthy” of your salvation?
Choosing What You Will Believe
To a great extent, you have a choice to make. You can choose to receive forgiveness and live in freedom from guilt. You can choose to receive God's love and live in freedom from a doubt-induced fear. You can choose to humble yourself and trust God completely with your life. In making these choices, you can and will know with total assurance that your salvation is eternally secure.
On the other hand, you can choose to hold on to your guilt, nurse your doubts about God's love and remain paralyzed in fear, and continue to strive to “earn” your salvation. In making these choices, you will experience a great deal of frustration, discouragement, sorrow, and a lack of enthusiasm for the things of God. Furthermore, you will not have the “blessed assurance” that God desires for you. Your salvation may be eternally secure, but you will have none of the joy that comes in believing you are secure!
The Impact on Your Witness
The assurance that you have about your salvation directly impacts your witness for Jesus Christ. Those who know without a shadow of a doubt that they are eternally secure are those who have a great deal of boldness and freedom to share the gospel with others. Their lives attract sinners to Christ. Those who question their salvation and live without assurance are both reluctant and ineffective in their witness. What you believe about Christ's sacrifice for you will directly impact the degree to which you confess Christ to others.
Choose to place your trust squarely in God's love, the definitive sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and in God's plan for your eternal life. The choice to trust is just that—a choice God calls you to make.