**(The following represents the progress of a Christian’s thinking about the Gospel, their justification, and their sanctification. It’s not me making a personal confession to all of the blogdom concerning doubts that I have and then coming to a certain realization in mid-post. It is simply what a Christian may experience and I think it may be helpful to sort of illustrate how we think as Christians many times, and how we need to look not inwardly for assurance of salvation, but outwardly to the Object of our faith, Jesus Christ.)**
Even as a Christian (maybe?), I have missed the mark. I mean, come on, I still lie, lust, covet, hate, and break the Lord’s Commandments in thought, word, and deed. I am a wretched man. While my public identity may be classified as “the religious guy,” or “the Church fanatic,” etc., my private identity seems to be far from Child of God. Deep within, I really hate my sin, but that hatred never seems to surface where the rubber hits the road. Sure, I know Scripture; hey, I love Scripture! But I am constantly bringing perilous things in my pathways.
What is this doubt? Why does it haunt me so? Maybe I’m not a Christian. What if I’m one of those alluded to in Christ’s parable of the Sower? One of those seeds that lasted not, and never bore fruit? As I consider such, it makes a lot of sense. Who has been truly purchased with Christ’s redemption and yet sullied His Name like I find myself doing? Who, in Christ’s Kingdom, could persist in such rebellion. Sinning, confessing, “repenting” only to go back to sinning?!
Do I share the faith with demons who believe in God, but not such a faith that can be classified as saving? How can I name the Name of Christ with a clear conscience? Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, asks, “You were saved from sin, how could you live in it any longer?” And let me consider the warning passages throughout Scripture; I am particularly reminded of those sobering Scriptures in the book of Hebrews. Shall I enter His rest? I don’t see how I could, living such a double life that I do.
So I give up. I am tired of my duplicity. I say one thing and practice another. I proclaim one life and live another. I believe in Christ’s Words, but my very works betray me. I abandon any hope that I possess the ability to attain salvation. Instead, you know what I’m going to do?
I will cling to Christ and to His promise that He will save those to the uttermost who call upon His Name. I will recognize that what He has promised, He will be faithful to do. I will learn to distinguish between the salvation-doubting arrows of Satan, and the honest probing, prodding, and convictions of the Spirit, and will avail myself to the means of Grace that God has appointed, which point me to the Object, Author, and Finisher of my Faith: Jesus Christ.
You see, we are called to be holy. We are called to pursue righteousness. And we should. And we should never be comfortable in our sin. But we cannot, nay we must not, place any hopes in the progress (or perceived lack thereof) of our sanctification as some kind of means of salvation. It is the Lord alone, through the instrument of faith, that has procured our Righteousness by imputing to us His righteousness. This is why Paul can go through the first several chapters of Romans making the case that all men are condemned, but can give us relief, good Gospel relief, with Romans 8:1:
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Praise be to God.
“Nothing in my hand [I’ll] bring, but simply to [Christ’s] cross [I’ll] cling.”