Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Am I Saved?

Does Your Heart Condemn You?

Yesterday, I saw a video that concerned me. It is the testimony of a man who doubted his salvation, but has now come to "really" trust in the Lord.

The first troubling point in the video was the response from his church. Upon hearing the man confess that he feared still being lost, he was immediately removed from the church members list.

What is a church members list? What purpose does it serve? Do we know the saints by their fruit or by the church rolls? Such an action sounds suspiciously like man signing-off on who belongs to God.

Should someone who is unsure about salvation be removed from a position of leadership? Absolutely. Should someone continuing in unrepentant sin be removed from fellowship? Yes. But taking someone off the church rolls because they are fearful their lives are not measuring up?

What drove this man to question his salvation was struggles with his own failures in living up to the "Christian standard". If he could not "do" what he thought Christians were supposed to "do", then he assumed that must mean he is not saved. And when he goes to the leadership seeking Godly counsel, he is removed from the church members list.

It is no strange thing when believers find themselves unable to meet the standards set forth by Christ. As long as your attention is on what you can "do", you will always feel like a failure. Yet, there will always be a difference between what we see in Scripture and what we can "do" because we cannot walk out this Christian life in the flesh. If wrestling with this internal contradiction between the desires of the flesh and the spirit is evidence of being lost, then I suppose that the Apostle Paul was not saved, for he said:

"For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin." Romans 7:15-25

Paul was in anguish over the fact that there was something in him fighting against his submission to God. What he did not want to do, he did in fact do. It made him feel like a wretched man! Did he take this as the evidence that he was not saved? No, it propelled him to take refuge in Jesus Christ all the more. He could say with confidence that Christ was able to deliver him from this body of death...and He is able to deliver us as well.

It is not anyone's job to convince another that they are saved. Such would be futile and foolish. Yet, trusting in the finished work of Christ does not mean pretending that the condition of your life is irrelevant. Having your "eyes on Christ" does not mean being indifferent about whether you are bearing fruit. When we really trust in the finished work of the cross, we understand that Jesus is calling us to take up our cross and follow Him.

"Knowing this, that our
old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." Romans 6:6

ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Ephesians 4:22-24

they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit." Galatians 5:24-25

"Lie not one to another, seeing that
ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him." Colossians 3:9-10

God says that we must put off the old man and put on the new man. We must make the decisions each day to deny our flesh and live for Him by the power of His Spirit. This is how we are victorious over sin. Our confidence in salvation comes from knowing that God is faithful to complete the work He is doing in us as we yield to Him. That as we are made conformable unto His death (the death of the cross in our own lives) we will also walk in the power of His resurrection.

The minister in this video says the reason people struggle with assurance is because they are likely not saved. That may be true for some. Yet it is also possible for people to struggle because they have a false sense of salvation and are therefore unprepared when their flesh starts to rise up against the new life found in Christ. Instead of following the Biblical instruction to crucify the flesh, they feel condemned by it.

A false assurance is no assurance at all. If we have no responsibilities in our covenant with God, then there would be no way that we could make our calling and election sure.

"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren,
give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." II Peter 1:4-11

There is an entire book in the Bible which addresses our assurance of salvation, and that is I John. In the last chapter of that book, John explains why he has written that letter:

"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." I John 5:3

At first, the verse may seem repetitive. Why would he be writing "to" those who believe so that they "may" believe? This is because believing in God is not a one-time act. It is an abiding faith whereby we continue believing unto salvation. As we continue believing or abiding in the faith, we will see the character of God being established within us.

John describes not what we must "do" to be saved (because remember, it is not of works and cannot be wrought in the flesh), but who we are becoming through salvation in Christ by the power of God's Spirit. Why is this message important? Because it is by this assurance that our joy will be full (I John 1:4).

So what are the character traits or fruit we will see developing in us as the assurance that we are in Christ?
  1. Sincerity (I John 1:5 - 2:2; I John 3:19-24)
    We are not being deceitful or hypocritical in our walk with Him, but are open and transparent. When He brings sin to our attention, we repent; we don't try to hide it as if it is not there or justify our continuing in it. I John also speaks of an inner witness which attests to this.

    "And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God." I John 3:19-21

    If our own consciences are aware of sin in our lives, then surely God Himself is aware of it, for He is greater than our hearts. But if we can stand before God in all sincerity with our consciences purged, then we can have confidence toward God. That does not mean we are sinless, but it means we are not seeking after or willfully continuing in sin. We cannot run game on God.

  2. Obedience (I John 2:3-6)
    As we keep His words, His love is being perfected within us. God is conforming us into the image of His Son. He is a Potter molding the clay.

  3. Love (I John 2:7-29; I John 3:10-18; I John 5:3)
    We will have love for the brethren, for God, and for the truth. We will also not love the things of the world.

  4. Sanctification (I John 3:3-18; I John 5:16-21)
    Because we have this hope in Christ, God says we will purify ourselves (3:3) and keep ourselves (5:18) from sin. We feel about sin how God feels about it. We don't enjoy it and willfully continue in it; we abhor it. We find no enjoyment in sin and do not seek it; yet should we sin, the Holy Spirit convicts us and compels us towards repentance.

  5. Faith (I John 5:4-15)
    We believe - and continue believing - in the Son of God, Jesus Christ and in the truths to which the Holy Spirit bears witness of in Him.
Again, these are not things we can "do". It is the fruit God develops in us as we continue abiding in the faith.

There is a washing of water by the word. We are becoming less of who we were and more of who God has created us to be. This is not an overnight work. As Paul indicated, it may feel like an internal battle, it may be frustrating, we may have to wrestle against our own desires, but God is faithful to deliver. As we walk with the Lord, we are being changed by His Spirit from glory to glory.

"Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." II Corinthians 3:17-18

Once you have repented, confessed Jesus Christ as Lord & Savior, and turned in faith to Him...your journey with God is just beginning. God is not looking to pluck sinful fruit off a tree; He is laying the axe to the root. He is conforming you into the image of His Son, but to attain this life we must lose the soulish, carnal life (Matthew 16:25). In your patience, possess ye your souls (Luke 21:19). He charges US with crucifying the old man, and He promises to resurrect the new. When we buffet our bodies (I Corinthians 9:27), we are turning away from one life towards another. We are dying to self and making of ourselves living sacrifices unto God, which is our reasonable service unto Him (Romans 12:1).

How can you keep your flesh under subjection to the Spirit of God? Instead of feeding on that which is soulish (which only strengthens the flesh), begin to feed primarily on that which is spiritual. Dedicate time to prayer, fasting, the study of God's word, and speaking to yourself in spiritual songs. This helps to weaken the flesh and build up your spirit in the Lord. As our old man is weakened, the desires of the old man also grow weak. We begin to walk in victory by the power of God over those sins which seem to so easily beset us. Do these things "save us"? Absolutely not! However it is the way that the life of Christ can be made manifest within us.

The minister is correct in that the assurance of our place in Christ can only come from Him. However, that is not as a result of us believing that we have no accountability before the Lord. Being anguished over sin is not the evidence that you are still lost. Jesus died to pay the debt for all of our sins, but He also then sent the Comforter whereby we can have victory over our sins.

The article on the only reason salvation can be lost may also be helpful.


  1. This is a wonderful post Mia! I all actuality, it has ministered to me greatly this morning.

    I was having a heart condemning moment earlier this week in which I posted the Scripture from 1 John 3 as a status but I only put up verse 20. In all honesty that is the way I was feeling. My heart was condemning me but the way that Scripute mininstered to me on that day was "yeah you might be feeling like a wretch right now but God is far greater than the feelings that you have concerning yourself." At that moment I knew that it was time to let go whatever was holding me and say "God, your grace is sufficient for me. And whatever sin or mishap or whatever I have experienced I know that repentance and forgiveness is available for me."

    But when I saw that you continued on to vs. 21 and the brief explanation you gave really helped me. My conscience was definitely in a place where I was ready to be purged.

    I did not watch the video yet but I can relate to this brother. So many people feel that church attendance and what they do at church or for the church or whatever is the beginning and the end of their relationship with God and when you do not measure up to the standards of said church you feel as though you have fallen. It makes me angry that these people treated him the way they did...SO ANGRY! There is God's righteousness through Christ and then there is church righteousness (which is fithly rags).

    When I really started walking with God in college the group of believer's that I fellowshipped with on a regular basis has a legalistic kind of condemning way about them. It had gotten so that I had fallen into a spiritual depression. I was so depressed because I loved God and wanted to please God but I felt I couldn't because I wasn't "doing" things right. It was horrible. But God spoke to me and He told me that He is with me and Ibelieved Him with all of my heart! At that point I began to seek Him for my life and not just so I could relate or seem like I was "doing" the right thing to others.

    Thank you for this post...Just really...Thank you for this post and God Bless you Mia!

  2. I am listening to the video now....I do not necessarily agree with this Pastor. He, by "removing him from the church roll" kind of made a judgement himself about this young man by taking a position that he didn't have the power to do either.

    It is interesting that he had to be wrongfully separated from the "church" for a time before he could get a hold on Christ. From what I heard from the young man, he was not battling with unrepentant sin but as you point out the "standard" that he thought he had to meet. There are sooo many like him. This is a battle that I have to fight on a regular basis. I have to constantly remind myself to be led of the Spirit and not by what others are doing.

  3. Tika, I so agree! My main concern in this video was did this man really come to trust the Lord or did he just feel pressured to accept the beliefs of the fellowship which ostracized him? I can only imagine how that made him feel to be removed from the church members list. A fellowship can often feel like a family.

    I also was disturbed that they didn't seem to delve into why this man felt they way he did. They should have counseled him on the nature of sin and how God delivers us from it. This is not a work that we can do by will power. We simply must submit to the work of the Lord, even though it can be very frustrating when we are struggling against desires in us which are not of Him. But as Paul said, Jesus is able to deliver us from this body of death. The more we keep that old man on the altar, the more Christ can burn up the dross.

  4. My assurance comes from working out my salvation with fear and trembling and when I stumble and sin boldly coming to the throne and asking forgiveness.

  5. I agree Prophetic Observer. But the lesson this man learned is that there is nothing to work out...and if he thought that there was, then he could not be listed as part of that fellowship.

    I have been a supporter of the I'll Be Honest ministry, and I don't think the actions taken in this incident were intentionally malicious. However, I DO believe their actions were irresponsible.

    When you hold up a member of a congregation as "not being one of us" - so to speak - that can be the cause of much confusion, embarrassment and angst. They not only immediately removed him, but announced that decision to the rest of the fellowship. Such sends a chilling message to the congregation.

    People need to understand and even expect that there will be an inner battle once they come to Christ. Such is not a sign that they are not saved. Church leaders also need to be sensitive to the authority God has given, so that such is not abused.


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