How Do You Know You’re Truly Saved???

How do you know if you’re truly saved? Many Christians struggle with assurance of their salvation. They often wonder if God loves them less when they are struggling with sin and that He must love them more when they are living the “victorious Christian life.” Evangelicalism has been plagued by an overwhelming confusion between justification and sanctification as the ground of our assurance, position, and acceptance in Christ. Romans 5:1–2 reads, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”

When sinners trusts in Christ for salvation, two permanent transactions occur—(1) all of their sin is credited to Christ, and (2) the perfect righteous record of Christ is credited to their account before God. Based upon this great exchange, God declares us not guilty, accepted, and forever in positive standing before His holy throne. We have peace with God. We have access to God in grace. This is the truth of justification and should serve as the basis or foundation for our assurance of salvation.

We must clearly understand how our assurance of salvation is rooted in what God alone has done for us in Christ through the power of the Spirit. In other words, our foundation for acceptance by God lies in the imputed righteousness of Christ given to us through justification. This is the objective reality that we must always put first when examining our salvation.

Yet, the Bible also speaks about sanctification, which is our growth and progress in godliness. Justification refers to our permanent position, while sanctification refers to our steady progress. 2 Peter 3:18 states, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” As believers, we should be growing in our faith and showing demonstrable evidence that we are genuinely saved. You should at times examine your life to see if you are bearing lasting fruit and growing in Christ. Yet, this progress is not the basis of God’s love for you. His love for you is constant based upon the righteousness of Christ, not your performance.

Whenever you experience doubts, anxiety or stress about your performance as a Christian, do not look within yourself to evaluate your acceptance by God based on your growth. God’s love for you does not fluctuate depending on your performance. Whenever you measure God’s love for you based upon your growth, this can lead to frustration, guilt, or even pride.

Instead, by faith, look outside of yourself to Christ and find your identity in who He is and who you are in His imputed righteousness. The Reformers differentiated between two kinds of faith—a reflective faith that looks inward for signs of personal faithfulness as opposed to direct faith that looks outside to Christ alone as the basis for my assurance.

How do you know you’re truly saved? Have you trusted in Christ alone to forgive you of your sins and are you resting in His finished work on the cross? Do you believe what the Bible says about one who is saved, instead of relying on your feelings to gauge whether or not you think God accepts you? The first answer to the question lies in trusting in the objective work of Christ and the doctrine of justification.

Yet, you must also examine yourself to see if you are showing signs of spiritual growth. Are you reading your Bible? Praying? Gathering for public worship? Partaking of the Lord’s Supper? Fellowshipping with other believers? Sharing your faith? These are marks or evidences of growth in your life, but they are not the basis, grounds, or foundation for your salvation. They are evidences, but not the foundation. The sure foundation is your permanent position in justification. The evidence of your salvation comes in the slow and steady progress in your sanctification. Confusing the two can become spiritually disastrous.

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The Peril of Pride

Jonathan Edwards said, “Pride is the worst viper that is in the heart and the greatest disturber of the soul’s peace and sweet communion with Christ…the most hidden, secret, and deceitful of all lusts.” The sin of pride hides deep within the recesses of the human heart and inevitably leads to many grievous offenses. The scary thing about pride is that we often do not see it in ourselves, but clearly see it in others. We are blinded to our own arrogance and self-sufficiency and become complacent and lulled into a deadly sleep when it comes to dealing with pride in our lives.

What does God feel about the sin of pride? Proverbs 8:13 says this, “The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.” In fact, the sin of pride is an outright abomination to the Lord as evidenced in Proverbs 16:5: “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the LORD; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” Listen to this stark warning from Proverbs 16:18-19: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor than to divide the spoil with the proud.” The apostle James also admonishes us to be aware of the dangers of pride in James 4:6 when he writes, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Clearly we can see from the Scriptures that the living God hates pride. He opposes it, abominates it, and will not tolerate it. And yet how many times do we get wrapped up in pride and arrogance and think to ourselves that it is really no big deal. We make excuses for our pride and try to justify our attitudes and we do not truly see how God actually feels about this inexcusable sin.

So how do we humble ourselves before the Lord and kill the sin of pride? 1 Peter 5:5-6 says, “Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.” Pride is a ruthless enemy like a cobra who strikes when we least expect it and causes tremendous damage in by its venom.

The sin of pride can only be combated with a healthy dose of the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His cross. John Stott encourages us with these words: “Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross that we shrink to our true size.”

It is only when we look at Christ on the cross and realize that we as depraved sinners should have died ourselves that we shrink to our true size. We are humbled by the grace and mercy of a loving God toward ill-deserving sinners. We are brought to our knees in desperation and thankfulness that Christ would dare love such sinners as us and forgive our sin and shame when He Himself was the perfect Lamb of God.

So how do you fight pride in your heart? You do what the great Puritan John Owen prescribes. He said, “Fill your affections with the cross of Christ that there may be no room for sin.” Fill your heart and mind with the glories of Calvary. Fix your eyes on Christ alone. Constantly look toward the all-sufficient Savior who rescued you out of bondage to sin and frees you to make much of Him, instead of making much of yourself.