We may think it is too hard to follow Christ, take heart. God does not expect us to do what we can’t, and gives us both the opportunity and power to do His will. Therefore we can have assurance now, not just a tentative hope for the future.
1. True assurance is based on Christ and our faith in Him.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).
This hope is a certainty, though not yet realised, but made real through faith. Further, this assurance comes as we diligently serve Christ with faith and patience:
For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realise the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:10-12).
2. When Christ was crucified our old self was crucified with Him.
Sin no longer has power over us. We are a new creation and God lives in us by His Spirit. We may not at times feel our sin nature is dead yet we need to believe God, not our feelings. Do you believe you have been forgiven and saved from the penalty of sin? Then believe you are also dead to sin and saved from its power. Both are true because God has said so. This is faith in action.
3. Our conscience bears witness.
We may feel disheartened and guilty because of our lack of growth in Christ. We may even question whether we have been saved. But take heart. If we still sense inner conflict and guilt it is an indication of the battle between the old and new self. Since you first repented of your sins and put your faith in Christ have you experienced a power beyond yourself to overcome sin? Are you growing in faith, moral virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, love for your brothers and sisters in Christ and agape love? If so then you can be assured you have been born of God’s Spirit.
4. There is no temptation that is too great to bear.
God promises to give us a way out of the temptation so that we might not sin (1 Corinthians 10:13). True there may be times when it may seem too great to bear – but at such times we need to trust God. It is all part of His training us to be holy. As John encourages us:
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1).
And there is forgiveness:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
Provided we also forgive those who have sinned against us.
5. Satan has no authority over those born of God:
We know that everyone who has been born of God does not sin, but the One who is born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him (1 John 5:18).
Therefore we should have no fear of Satan since Jesus keeps us in His power. Satan may hinder or deceive but cannot make us sin.
And Paul encourages us with these words:
But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
6. We have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit with our spirit that we are God’s children giving us assurance:
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:15,16).
7. We can be assured and confident before God as John tells us:
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him (1 John 3:18-22 ESV).
So we need to maintain a good conscience. As we forsake sin and do what is right we will have assurance. However, wilfully continuing in sin hardens our heart and dulls our conscience.
We can learn from King David’s life, who though an adulterer and a murderer was called ‘a man after God’s own heart’. Why? David’s faith in and love for God was unswerving, even in times of great trial and testing. He was humble and when confronted with his sin confessed, repented and sought God’s forgiveness.
8. Jesus promises those who follow Him:
Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30).
Jesus has reconciled us to God. He has accomplished what we couldn’t. Therefore we can have rest within our soul. When we come to Jesus and follow Him, we will have His burden but one that that we can bear.
9. It is God’s will that none of us fall.
He does not demand of us anything which He does not give the grace and power to perform, for in Christ He has:
Blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
And He gives us strength because it is He who works in us:
That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16).
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us (Ephesians 3:20).
For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).
And Jesus intercedes for us:
Christ Jesus…who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us (Romans 8:34).
Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).
We are never left with a burden too great to bear but we can receive mercy and grace in times of need:
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
In times of suffering we are encouraged with these words:
After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you (1 Peter 5:10).
We can always be assured of God’s power to keep us:
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy (Jude 24).
God’s power and assurance is with us now, on this earth, for we have been given the Holy Spirit to be with us always, to help and guide us (John 14:16,17).
10. As we pray according to God’s will, He hears us:
This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us (1 John 5:14).
This ought to give us much assurance – God is listening to our prayers and wants to answer them. Prayer is not limited by God, but by us.
11. Not only does God give us assurance but He also gives us peace and joy:
These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6,7).
We can expect trouble in this life in our battle against the world, the flesh and the devil. But this does not mean we have to live in a state of anxiety and joylessness. On the contrary, inner peace and joy will be a reality when we put our hope and trust in Jesus and give thanks to God in whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. The old saying ‘Count your blessings’ is sound advice. We always can a have reason to thank God. As Jesus taught His disciples, true joy is ours also as we keep His promises in mind:
These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full (John 15:11).
And James encourages us that even during times of trial we can have joy:
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-3).
The end result of enduring suffering with inner joy is we grow in spiritual maturity and Christ is formed in us.
As Paul in his letter to the Philippians encourages us with these words:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4).
12. God has pre-determined we should be His sons:
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will (Ephesians 1:5).
If we read the first two chapters of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians we should be in no doubt as to God’s incredible purpose, grace and power towards us in Christ. God’s intention is for our good and so should fill us with humble awe and thanks-giving.
13. If God is for us, who can be against us?
These words of Paul, again, should give us every assurance, and as he goes on to say:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31; 35-39 ESV).
For those who love God, affliction and the powers of darkness or of man cannot prevent us from being finally victorious through the love of God which is in Christ.
14. We should always be assured of God’s love for us:
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are (1 John 3:1).
He cares and values us as His own children, as an individual not just one of a number (Luke 12:6,7).
God has no pleasure in anyone perishing. He wants all to come to repentance and be saved. Like the anguish of a parent who has lost a child and the joy when reunited with them, so our Father in Heaven rejoices over every sinner who returns and repents.
Many times in the Psalms we are assured of God’s preservation and love for us:
The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride (Psalm 31:23 ESV).
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him (Psalm 103:11).
15. And this amazing vision of John as he saw the New Jerusalem, the city of God:
And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away” (Revelation 21:2-4).
With such a promise how can we not be filled with hope and assurance?
Having assurance should never lead us to be complacent. We should always maintain a humble and thankful attitude. Though we may stumble, provided we repent, get up and continue we will have assurance. Then, on that final day, we will hear those words of Jesus “Well done good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your master.”
In Christ we have been given all we need to be the people God desires so we need never despair. We can therefore look with hope and confidence to a future glory beyond our comprehension and to God will always be the glory.