Last week we looked at why Christians have assurance that we are going to heaven when we die. This week I want to look at why we sometimes lack assurance – we do not feel that we are actually saved.
Firstly, we can experience a loss of assurance through falling into some special sin which wounds our conscience and grieves the Holy Spirit. David speaks of this in Psalm 51 which he wrote after he committed the terrible sins of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah. David begs God: ‘Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me’ (Psalm 51:10-12). Because of his sin, David has lost the joy of knowing God’s salvation. He actually misses knowing his assurance of salvation and wants it back. David also knows that if he is to get it back he has to seek God’s forgiveness to get that joy back. The same continues for us today. If you have fallen into a particular sin and no longer feel assured that you are one of God’s saved people, turn to him in forgiveness and ask him to restore the joy of salvation to you. Jesus promises: ‘…whoever comes to me I will never drive away’ (John 6:37).
Secondly, sometimes God simply takes away his assurance from his children for an unknown reason. David also speaks of this in Psalm 30: ‘When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” O LORD, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed’ (Psalm 30:6-7). David had previously felt safe because he knew God favoured him. But then God hid his face and David didn’t know why and so became worried. This can still happen to us today. We may experience a wonderful delight in the knowledge that we are saved but after some time we may experience doubts, and even severe anxiety, about our salvation. This may simply be because God in his wisdom deems it right that you should lack assurance for a time. When this happens, heed the words of Lamentations: ‘The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD’ (Lamentations 3:25). Be patient and wait on God. As long as you continue to repent for your sins, trust in Jesus Christ as the payment for your sins and see evidence of your faith in good works, your faith is not in question. Remember that assurance is the fruit of your faith, not the root of it. If you lack assurance, it doesn’t mean you are not saved.