Eric Davis is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. In an article entitled “When Assurance is Lacking” at the Cripplegate website he writes:
Today’s post is taken from a letter to an individual who is struggling with assurance of salvation.
I am so sorry to hear about your struggle with the assurance of your salvation. Seasons of doubt can be some of the most difficult valleys we walk through. Maybe you’re doubting God’s love (“Could he really love someone like me?”), the reality of your conversion (“I don’t think I’m regenerate because I___”), the possibility of certainty (“Can I even know for sure that I’m saved?”), or something else. Whatever the case, know that this is a common battle. You are not alone.
I understand a bit of what that is like as I battled with the darkness of doubt for a time in seminary. The source of my doubt was multi-faceted. On the one hand, it arose from a sudden realization of previously unseen sin. I claimed to believe in the gospel, but my “new” sin seemed to eclipse the cross. My excessive self-analyzing exacerbated the problem. The deeper and longer I beheld my thoughts, the more assurance fled (as it often will). Maybe you are experiencing doubt for those reasons. Or maybe it’s Satan, your natural temperament, or something else. I don’t know.
So, I want to share with you a few things that I have found helpful in battling the darkness of doubt.
A quick-fix approach probably is not helpful.
Certainly you are aware that there is no pixie-dust solution to doubt. If you’ve been like me, you’ve probably tried them. And more dangerous than trying them is taking comfort in them. Steer clear of the pixie-dust.
As difficult as it may be, the goal here is not to swiftly soothe the discomfort of doubt. Rather, the goal is to please Christ by understanding and embracing truth. Perhaps your assurance will be quickly restored. Perhaps not. Either way, avoid worshiping the “not-feeling-doubt” god. He’s an insufficient savior.
Also, some may counsel you along the lines of, “Oh, quit doubting. Of course you are a Christian! Remember back to moment A or B, when you did Y or Z? Just look at all the great Christian things you have done in your life.” Resist the urge to settle there. Looking at ourselves is not the best approach.
Perhaps because you are looking at what you have done, you are doubting. I know it was that way for me. And that advice was not helpful because I needed to do the exact opposite; look outside, not inside, myself. On the topic of God’s work in assurance, Burk Parsons writes, “He assures us not by giving us confidence in ourselves by bringing us to the end of ourselves so that we might know and love him.” This brings up the next point.
Our assurance is first outside, not inside, of us.
I am not going to encourage you to look to your decisions or deeds in the past. Instead, let’s look to something outside of ourselves in the present. I am going to spend extra time on these since I have found that the lack of assurance can be the product of not bathing our souls in gospel truth; the bedrock of our faith.
First, consider Luke 18:9-14. Continue reading