We are looking at how to rightly use three biblical principles to know for sure that our belief in Jesus Christ is the real thing. And how to use these three principles to counsel others instead of giving someone false assurance.
Romans 8 tells us our assurance rests upon our having the Holy Spirit. I John 4: 1-6 tells us the Holy Spirit always points us to Jesus as the Savior and makes real to us the promises regarding Him. The Holy Spirit applies these promises to our hearts and minds leading to our belief and faith. That is the first principle. Learn to recognize if and when this has occurred in your own personal experience.
The Second Principle
The second principle is the Holy Spirit will have another effect upon our heart. He will give us a sense that we are a child of God–that God is our father.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,…(Romans 8:14-16)
Being Led Is Not Hearing a Secret Voice
The key to understanding this second principle is to see the context in which “led” is used in this passage. Paul is telling us in these verses that our spirits and our bodies will be strengthen by the indwelling Spirit to resist sin and not live according to our fallen nature. The context is about holy living not seeking to determine God’s will in our circumstances.
Jonathan Edwards pointed out in the 1700’s that being led by the Spirit was not hearing a “secret voice saying you are a child of God.” Unfortunately, “being led” is often used that way today and can lead to false assurance while living a life of worldliness and carelessness.
“But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors–not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8: 11-13).
So look at yourself closely when you hear the whispers that you might not be a Christian after all. See if you live within a consciousness that God is your father: you are loved and cared for; you are no longer under condemnation and fearful of the coming Judgment Day. But, this consciousness is in the midst of a childlike desire to please your father, seeking to live a holy life in body and spirit.
See how this is a matter of the heart? How can you know this about another person? It is possible for a friend to be burdened by her sins and to hate the consequences of them. Don’t give her false assurance to make her feel better. Instead, rightly apply this principle by showing her there is no condemnation ahead for her if she trusts in Christ and lives in the consciousness of His love. She can recognize it in her own heart and have assurance of her salvation. You can too.