Can I look at my love for Jesus to find assurance? Answered by Jon Moffitt
Hi, this is Jon, and today on ask Theocast, I’m answering Aaron’s question. He asks, “If someone is struggling with their assurance, can I point to their affection for Jesus, or their love for Jesus, as the ground of their assurance, or as a way they can find assurance?”
The problem with this is to assume that our affections are perfectly sanctified, they’re perfectly holy, they’re good and just at all times, and that we aren’t going to waiver. We are told that the problem of humanity, and the problem with Christians, is our heart.
Our heart has been brought to life. We are told by Ezekiel that our heart of stone has been pulled out and a heart of flesh has been put in, that we are these new creatures that really never existed before, which is those who have the Holy Spirit. But yet, we are still depraved. We know that we’re depraved, meaning that we are still underneath the effects of sin, because we are warned by the apostle Paul that the flesh is going to battle against the Spirit to overcome the Spirit and the Spirit is going to be at war with the flesh to suppress sin.
First John 1:9 becomes so important to the Christian life because it says when we sin, we are to confess that sin, and we receive forgiveness- he is faithful to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Repentance is a part of the Christian life where we are constantly repenting of when the flesh wins against the Spirit.
We’re not told that that battle somehow is suppressed or goes away, but it’s this constant battle. There’s a warning from James to be aware of Satan who was coming to try and trip us up, to trip our faith up, to get us to trust in the flesh or into sin or in temptation rather than in Christ.
So, Paul tells us about this war that he has in Romans seven, were the things he wants to do, he’s not doing them, and he knows the things that he shouldn’t do, and he keeps doing them – oh wretched man that I am, who will save me from this body of death? And he says, “thanks be to Christ!” So his hope, as he goes on in Romans eight to tell us, is that eventually those whom God justifies he sanctifies, and those who he sanctifies he glorifies. The glorious chain of redemption means that one day, we will have perfect affection and perfect obedience of the Father. But right now we don’t have that.
Where does our hope lie? Well, all throughout scripture, we are told that sinners are cleansed of their sin, and they are given a new status of child who holds on to and wears, all of the riches of Jesus. We are clothed as if we are wearing his clothes. We are wearing his wealth. We are clothed in his righteousness.
How is that given to us? How is it that we are cleansed and then clothed? We are granted all of the obedience of Jesus. How was that given to us? Is it given to us by our love for God? No, we’re told that it’s given to us by our faith, and that faith is never quantified or qualified. It literally says if you believe in Jesus Christ to be your forgiveness and your righteousness, you are an adopted child. You are brought in and have all the blessings of Christ as we’re told in Ephesians three. All of the glorious gifts that are given to us are given to us by faith alone Ephesians 2:8-9 says, so that you don’t boast, it’s not of any kind of work. It’s nothing you drum up. It’s not your affections. It’s not your obedience. It’s trust. As you sit and trust in the finished work of Christ, as you sit there and trust that it’s enough, that there’s nothing else required, you can have full assurance.
Now, we are told in scripture, and the confessions help clarify this, that our good works and our affections can add to our assurance. It can bolster it, but it can never be the foundation. It can’t be the ground upon which you stand, because the moment you put your faith and trust in your good works or in your affections, and sin and temptation comes, it will topple you over, and you will feel that you have no hope. All of a sudden you have denied God, as Peter found himself denying Christ and later on, even in his ministry, being rebuked by Paul for leading people back under the law; or King David, as he gets toppled over by sin and temptation. What does he say in his Psalm 51? “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” He is looking to that which saves him, which is always a God outside of himself.
So we too can take hope from Paul, and Peter, and King David, and understand that- as we wrestle and battle with sin- our adoption, our regeneration, our hope, and our foundation is always in Sola Fide. It’s always faith alone. There are times where we may be called to examine ourselves. We hear those passages thrown at us. “Well, examine yourself to see if you’re of the faith,” and then they’ll point to your affections or they’ll point to your obedience. In context, Paul’s not talking about their affections or obedience, he’s calling their actual faith into question. He’s saying, if you’re accusing me of a false gospel, you better examine yourself to see if you’re of the faith. I’m the one that preached the gospel to you, so you better make sure that you’re in the faith because this is where you got your gospel. Context matters there. When it comes down to your assurance, I would encourage you that if you are going to base your assurance on your affections and love for God, your assurance is always going to waiver. It’s on shaky ground. You should be looking to the one who is saving you. You never look to yourself to see how well you are doing at obedience to the one who is saving you. Assurance must rest in the power of the one who’s saving you, never in your own power.
Hopefully, that was encouraging. Please go to our website and send us your questions. Thank you for taking the time to do that today, Aaron, and we’ll see you guys next week.