If you had been my shadow during the summer of my twelfth year, you would have seen me weeping alone many times. Throughout the day, I yearned for night so I could be oblivious of my thoughts while I slept, yet as I lay in bed at night I longed for daytime distractions.
Because even though I had accepted Jesus as a young child, had been baptized, and wanted to serve Him, I feared that maybe I was not a Christian after all. I believed in Christ’s death and resurrection but would often question if I actually believed it or just knew it. As silly and counterintuitive as it sounds, it upset me. Because I wanted to follow Jesus, the thought of not really being saved left me sobbing, sometimes several times a day. The feelings of uncertainty and doubt around the validity of my salvation became a dark, lonely place.
What I have come to realize, though, is that these thoughts and doubts are not uncommon. I’ve been surprised at how many teenagers I know who say they’ve experienced them, too.
Maybe you recognize these thoughts and feel like you’re drowning in them. If so, I want to remind you that you are not alone. You’re not a failure or a bad Christian because you have doubts. By understanding where these doubts come from and how to combat them you can not only be sure of your salvation but cultivate an even deeper relationship with Christ.
Where Do These Doubts Come From?
Most basically, Satan promotes these thoughts. John 8:44 proclaims, “He is a liar and the father of lies.” Yes, the Holy Spirit does convict us, and the Lord does use uncertainty about salvation to draw nonbelievers to Himself, but Satan can also tempt us with uncertainty. There are several reasons why we may doubt if we’re truly saved, yet for each one God gives us truth to combat it.
Doubt #1: If we accepted Jesus when we were young, we may wonder if we were insincere.
Truth #1: God works in the hearts of people of all ages, and God does not exclude young children from His plan of salvation (II Timothy 3:14-15).
Doubt #2: We may see the sin in our lives and wonder if we really love Jesus. We may think, “If I really loved the Lord, I would always obey Him.”
Truth #2: We will never be perfect Christians on this earth, and Christ sanctifies us over time to look more like Himself despite our failures (Romans 8:1).
Doubt #3: We may have slipped into a mindset—even subconsciously—that we need to prove our salvation by legalistically performing good works, that our salvation is up to us. Have we really asked Jesus into our hearts? Are we really doing what God commands?
Truth #3: Our salvation is dependent on Jesus and only Jesus, who faithfully does what He promises (I John 2:2).Satan lies to us, and we often believe the lies. So, to fight the lies, we need to don the belt of Truth. Click To Tweet
Satan lies to us, and we often believe the lies. So, to fight the lies, we need to don the belt of Truth.
3 Ways to Remember Truth
Now that we know where—or who—the lies and uncertainty come from, what do we do about it?
Here are three ways to combat lies and remember Truth.
1. Abide in Jesus
“If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free… if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:31-32, 36 ESV).
· Abide in His Word: To abide means to remain, or stay rooted in something or someone, in this case Jesus.
God has given us His Word of Truth. Use it. If you’re not spending daily time reading your Bible, I encourage you to start doing so. Find verses that encourage you and promises that remind you of the Lord’s presence. Memorize them, write them down, and repeat them over and over.
· Abide in Prayer: Although it can be difficult, establish a prayer schedule. Share your fears, struggles, worries, and victories with the Lord. He listens to you; let Him strengthen you with His presence. In addition to a schedule, remain in communion with Him throughout the day.
Abiding in Him is not limited to reading the Bible and praying. Abiding also includes trusting Him, obeying Him, and delighting in His love.
2. Know the Truth
The words on lemon Girl Scout cookies, our feelings, or our every single thought do not define truth, so we cannot turn to them for truth. If we’re having feelings of doubt or fears about whether we really belong to Christ, we must not linger in them, because as we linger in them, we start to believe them. Jesus does not say we will feel the truth, but that we will know it. Truth is Jesus (John 14:6) and is defined by His action of love as He died to give all people who turn to Him forgiveness of all sin. We can be certain of the truth because God does not lie.
· Know that you are free indeed: Jesus has freed us from sin, guilt, and from the power of temptation. We do not need to – and cannot—do anything that will help us earn our salvation. We can do nothing to make our salvation more secure, because our salvation is dependent on Jesus, not ourselves. I cannot emphasize enough how free we are in Christ. Jesus justifies and sanctifies us because He is forgiving and faithful.
· Know that He is faithful: Look at these verses:
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 1:14, emphasis added).
“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one” (II Thessalonians 3:3, emphasis added).
It is important to remember God’s faithfulness, because as we struggle with doubts regarding our faith, God can feel far away (again, do not trust your feelings). God is not letting you struggle alone. He did not leave me alone, and He will not leave you alone. He faithfully walks with us in our struggle, providing ways out of our temptation, grounding us in Him, and protecting us from Satan’s lies.
Even when we look at the sin in our lives and wonder if we are really saved, we can be assured that God is sanctifying us to become more like Jesus. He started working in us and will not abandon that work. Instead, He will surely complete it because He is faithful.
A few months after I stopped struggling intensely with these thoughts, I felt an assurance of the faithfulness of God. For me, I experienced these doubts intensely for a season, but He faithfully brought me through, and I haven’t struggled much with them for two years. For you, doubts on your salvation may plague you for a long time. However long you wrestle with them, know that He holds you.
3. Talk to a Christian you trust
Yep, the advice that you’ve most likely heard several times for one scenario or another rings true. For me, this person was primarily my mom. This person for you could be your parents, pastor, even a sibling. They will pray with you and for you, point you to scripture, and share truth with you.
In I Thessalonians 5:11, Paul exhorts the church to, “encourage one another and build one another up.” When we have godly people in our lives, we should go to them so that they may encourage us, pointing us to Jesus.
God is Bigger than Our Doubts
If you’re currently struggling with doubts around your salvation, you are not alone. Having doubted that I really belonged to Jesus, I know one article will probably not solve the problem for you, and you may still have a struggle ahead of you. But please do not meditate on these doubts, but rather affirm what you believe and delight in the Way, the Truth, and the Light. Work through your fears and questions with a mentor, but not obsessively. If you have a love for the Lord, do not doubt if you really love Him, because only Jesus can make your heart love Him. Rejoice in His faithfulness. Remember that your salvation does not rely on you, but that Jesus holds you, nothing can snatch you from His hand, and through your doubts, struggles, and sins, He loves you.God is infinitely bigger than any doubt, and He can use doubts about salvation to ground us more firmly in Him. Click To Tweet
God is infinitely bigger than any doubt, and He can use doubts about salvation to ground us more firmly in Him.