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Biblical Assurance: Part 3

June 10, 2009

Biblical Assurance: Part 3

                One of the key areas that believers struggle with is the assurance of their salvation. This week I want to look at part of Romans 7 and 8 and how it applies to our assurance of salvation. But before I do, some definitions are needed. Sanctification is the process of continued growth. It is marked by successes in heart change which results in obedience and growth.  Yet sanctification also has times in the process where we sin and sometimes miserably fail. Sometimes we fail on repeated occasions.

                Justification is different. It is not a process. It is a once-for-all judicial declaration by God whereby He declares a sinner innocent of sin and as having the righteousness of God (WOW!) placed on his account. Notice this does not mean that the person is sin free; only that God has DECLARED him as such. It is a judicial standing. Again, sanctification is a process whereas justification is done once and is completed. This will help us later.

                Read Romans 7:14-23. In these verses, Paul the believer talks about the internal struggle he has between desiring to do right and still desiring to sin. His true heart for God is to obey and desire what God would have for him. Yet, the residue of sin still remains and pulls Paul in two. The battle is so fierce that he describes it as a ‘war’ (vs. 23). Ever feel like this? When you are seeking to grow in Christ and desiring to obey Him, do you still go and do the exact opposite? Ever get so frustrated with yourself because you sin in light of something that is so clear? Do you battle this on a regular occasion, knowing you desire to obey one way and yet keep falling into some of the same sin? Does it discourage you? It did the apostle Paul. When he looked at his life of sanctification he saw it go up and down, up and down.  And it took its toll on him.

                Paul actually got to the point where he was absolutely disgusted with himself. (See vs.24a) In vs. 24a, Paul comes to the end of himself and realizes after all his battles, all his struggles, all his waging war against sinful desires he still comes up short. “Wretched man that I am!” I can almost hear him cursing himself! I’ve been so mad at myself at times for my failures I’ve called myself names! Oh, I know, you have too!  Sometimes we get to where Paul is at. After we’ve battled so long and yet still see so much more sin, we say, “What’s the use? I’ve battled this long and I STILL have faith that is this weak, I still have lingering sin, I still fail, I still…etc. etc.” You get the point.  We get to the point we are ready to throw in the towel because we realize we will never, ever, ever get rid of all these remaining sinful desires and actions. This can lead to much defeat for Christians and cause much anxiety of soul. “How can I have assurance when I see so much imperfection in my sanctification?” is the question we are nagged by. So we sit on pins and needles wondering what God thinks of us with so much sin. “Am I really saved? Was my faith really real? If it was, how come I still have all these internal struggles, sinful desires, and still overtly/willfully commit sin when I know I shouldn’t? Am I really, really saved?” Thoughts like this destroy all hopes of having any assurance with God. So what hope is there?

                In light of all this, what does Paul do when he is defeated by the lack of sanctification he observes in himself? In vs. 24b, Paul realizes his help must come outside of himself. Again, remember HIS struggle, his waging war, etc led to his frustration/desperation and cursing himself! “From whence does my help come? It comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!” (Ps. 121:1) Paul says the same thing: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (vs. 25) Why is Paul thankful in the midst of his struggle and defeat? What is that God has done or will do for Him that makes him rest assured? We will look at that next week! Hang tight! In the meantime, work on memorizing the two definitions! Hint, hint!

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