Sometimes I doubt my salvation. It is not a nice feeling. It’s a sick, wretched feeling.
My head knows I’m saved. Deep in my heart, I know I’m saved. But sometimes the devil fills my heart with fear, and I don’t feel saved.
Thank the Lord my salvation doesn’t depend on feelings. It is based on facts.
Fact 1: all humans sin.
Ever since Adam and Eve sinned, opening the worst “Pandora’s Box” you ever heard of, all humans have been born with a nature that wants to sin. Just ask anyone who’s raised children, or even worked with them a significant amount. No one has to teach a child to bite, hit, kick, or selfishly hoard his toys. He does it because that is his nature.
But if you’re looking for a checklist of sins, here’s a simple one based on the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 20):
- Lying, even “white lies.”
- Disrespecting your parents.
- Desiring what isn’t your own.
- Murder, and hatred counts as murder in God’s standards (see 1 John 3:15).
- Failing to love, honor, and serve God above all other persons or things.
Fact 2: God is holy.
He is so holy we can’t really comprehend it. His very nature is righteousness and justice, so our sinfulness repels Him.
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”
-Isaiah 6:3 (NKJV)
But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away.
-Isaiah 64:6 (NKJV)
Fact 3: God loves sinners anyway.
“For God so loved the world…”
-from John 3:16 (NKJV)
But God demonstrates His own love toward us…
-from Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
A holy God who loves sinners. That’s a painful position. God can’t just gloss over sin and ignore it forever. His holiness will not allow it. Yet He loves us wicked people.
So He did the unthinkable.
Fact 4: Jesus died for sinners.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God and therefore part of God, wrapped Himself in human flesh and came to earth. He lived on this planet as a Man, surrounded by sin, even tempted by sin, yet never sinning (see Hebrews 4:15). He was innocent.
If an innocent person takes the punishment of a guilty person, justice is satisfied and the guilty person can go free.
Jesus died at the hands of the rulers of His time on earth. The Romans executed Him by crucifixion, one of the most agonizing deaths known to mankind. But Jesus had done nothing wrong. And He was the Son of God: He could have easily escaped. It wasn’t really the Roman soldiers who killed Jesus.
Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice to appease a holy God who cannot abide sin. The Lord God laid all the sin of the world on Jesus Christ, and punished Jesus for sin He never committed.
So that we sinners could go free.
who Himself [Jesus Christ] bore our sins in His own body on the tree,
-1 Peter 2:24a
Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood [Jesus] entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
-Hebrews 9:12 (emphasis mine)
Jesus Christ bore our sins–our sins–in His own body on the cross, and with His own blood obtained eternal redemption. He saved us forever.
Fact 5: Jesus rose again from the dead after three days in the tomb.
This fact sets Jesus apart from every other “holy man” who has walked on earth. This fact proves that Jesus is who He says He is. It proves He has the power to deliver us from sin.
This fact means that Jesus has conquered death, the ultimate consequence of sin. It’s so important that the Bible says:
And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!
-1Corinthians 15:17 (NKJV)
Fact 6: through faith, we obtain the salvation Jesus offers.
This gift of forgiveness of sin does not automatically apply to every person, just because Jesus died. You have to place your faith in Jesus. You can’t do anything else to save yourself.
What does that mean, “place your faith in Jesus”?
It means to acknowledge you are sinful and cannot clean yourself. To believe Jesus’ sacrifice, and that alone, pays for your sin. To accept in your heart Jesus’ death and resurrection on your behalf, and to turn your life over to Him through gratitude.
After all, if you acknowledge that your sin put Jesus on the cross, surely you will no longer want to engage in it.
Jesus’ sacrifice alone can save us. When we accept it by faith.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.
-Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
“Not of works.” If you’ve read much on my weblog, you know I talk often about how a Christian should live. How we are to shun the world and follow Christ. How we are to hate sin and pursue righteous living.
Which brings me to my seventh fact.
Fact 7: good works can never save us.
Nothing we do is capable of saving us. Nothing.
Faith alone saves us. So what do the good works have to do with anything?
Take the story of a woman in the Bible who believed Jesus could heal her. She told herself, “If I just touch the hem of His garment, I will be made well.”
She believed that with all her heart. But until she actually touched the hem of Jesus’ garment, she was still sick. The moment she reached out and touched, she was made well. (see Luke 8:43-48)
And Jesus told her, “Daughter, be of good cheer; your faith has made you well.”
Contradiction? No. Until her faith moved her to action, it was useless.
Until our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice moves us to action, it is useless. Until our belief in Jesus leads us to turn our backs on this world and our sinful desires, to throw ourselves on Christ’s grace and commit to serving Him, our so-called faith is not true faith at all.
True faith is all-consuming.
And when you surrender to Jesus because of His sacrifice on your behalf, that’s what Christians call “getting saved.”
I didn’t have a dramatic salvation experience. Nor was it exactly a neat, concise prayer as happens to many. (You can read my full testimony here.)
But I have placed my faith in Jesus Christ.
His sacrifice alone can save me. Not my good behavior or “being perfect.” I rely on His mercy every day, and through His strength I strive to obey Him. Because I love Him, oh, so much. He deserves to own every bit of me.
I hear sermons where the preacher warns against sitting in the church, sometimes for years, pretending to be or even thinking you are a Christian. I’m not criticizing their preaching–they speak the truth. But the devil will use anything, even a good sermon if he can. And he does. Almost every time. Sometimes he’s more successful than others.
Praise God my salvation doesn’t depend on my feelings. It depends on Christ’s blood. When the devil torments me with the suggestion that maybe I’m not really saved after all, I can point to the cross and say, “Yes, I am saved because Jesus makes me clean!”
Friend, if you’re not saved, I hope this makes it clear how you can be. There is no shame in coming to Jesus. None!
Congratulations if you read this far!