People who are Christians often swing one of two extremes. Either they are told never to doubt their salvation, that it’s the devil trying to get them to doubt. Or they’re told to always doubt their salvation, that it’s arrogant to think we can be sure and secure.
Neither of these extremes are correct. Neither of these extremes are profitable.
Let’s use Romans 8:9 as a launching off point for today’s blog.
So many spheres of our lives feels like they are unraveling, undergoing pressure, or otherwise getting worse than it was even a few years ago. It sure feels like things are spinning out of control.
I was musing on God’s orderliness. Time and time again in the Bible He shows us just how much He is in control. Everything happens in His schedule, in His timetable, in His timing, for His reasons. Nothing escapes His notice. Nothing happens unless He causes it, allows it, or oversees it and then brings it all to the good for those who love Him.
Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace. We always give thanks to God for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly keeping in mind your work of faith and labor of love and perseverance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brothers and sisters, beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sakes.(1 Thessalonians 1:1-5).
I hear so many people say “I want to be filled with the Spirit.” And that is a good thing to seek (if you mean in the true sense of the word and not Charismatically.)
But have you thought about how being filled with the Spirit might also include what Paul is extolling here that the Thessalonians received? “Full assurance”?
We want to be filled with, energized, dominated by the Sprit so our sins diminish and so our deeds grow. But deeds for Christ rest on the assurance that they will be-
1. Performed for His glory 2. Go out and not return void
If Paul praised the Spirit for the full assurance the Thessalonians had received (it’s a passive reception, not humanly-catalyzed) then we can ask for the same.
And in much assurance - That is, with firm conviction, or full persuasion of its truth. It was not embraced as a doubtful thing, and it did not produce the effect on the mind which is caused by anything that is uncertain in its character. Many seem to embrace the gospel as if they only half believed it, or as if it were a matter of very doubtful truth and importance; but this was not the case with the Thessalonians. There was the firmest conviction of its truth, and they embraced it "heart and soul;" compare Colossians 2:2; Hebrews 6:11. From all that is said in this verse, it is evident that the power of God was remarkably manifested in the conversion of the Thessalonians, and that they embraced the gospel with an uncommonly strong conviction of its truth and value. ~Barnes' Notes on the Bible, on 1 Thessalonians 1:5
We want the filling of the Spirit, but let’s start with asking for full conviction as the foundation upon which the filling will rest. Doubt isn’t noble. It might be part of the human mind and heart, but we can and should ask the Spirit to fill us with conviction, as well as strength, energy, power etc.
[P]pursuing a course of holiness (in conjunction with the hearty acceptance of saving truth) provides evidence that one is indeed elect and not merely self-deceived. Paul affirms essentially the same understanding of election and its evidences in 1 Thessalonians 1:4–7. ~Founders Ministries
Assurance of salvation is something many Christians struggle with. It’s normal that a believer might enter a period when they doubt their salvation. We still sin, and if a person sins repeatedly, it’s also normal to wonder if the Lord has sealed the Spirit in us and that we’re actually saved for the day of redemption. It’s normal that a believer might have a (short) period of performing besetting sins or as known in the Christian culture, “backslide”. We often feel in life that we are not making progress (like the Pilgrim in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, who also slid down the hill at times).
The Holy Spirit is sealed in believers and if a person possesses the Spirit, He will not allow the believer to continue to sin. His ministry is to sanctify. Persistent sin in a believer would be at odds with that progress, so if a person does not allow conscience to prick their heart and repent, eventually the Spirit will make Himself known more strongly- either through a bigger conscience prick, or sending someone to confront you, or raise certain Bible verses to you, or even a mishap in life to knock sense into us.