Why Do I Doubt? The One (Major) Reason Christians Doubt Their Salvation

When Christians begin to have doubts about their salvation, they usually consult their pastor or another trusted spiritual advisor. If you ask your pastor why you are doubting, you will typically get three responses: unconfessed sin, hidden sin, or you’re under conviction, needing true salvation.

I remember sitting in my pastor’s office during great times of doubt and despair and hearing these things. Time after time, I would return home and begin the process of self-examination. Certainly there were times of unconfessed sin and I knew it. But confession and turning away from that sin didn’t seem to ease my conscience. Eventually, I came to the conclusion (about a thousand different times) that I just wasn’t saved, that I was one of those Matthew 7:21 people. You know? The ones that think they’re saved because they appear to have a sliver of holiness but are really on their way to Hell.

The entire process was painful. Every. Single. Time.

But the real culprit for my despair was something that I had never considered. This enemy had slipped into my church, sneakily subverting the comforts of the gospel from mine and thousands of other Christians minds. His name was False Teaching!

Most of us think of false teaching as a blatant perversion of the gospel; things like works-salvation, denial of the deity of Christ, rejection of the Trinity, etc. But there is a more subtle form of false teaching that has invaded our modern-day churches. This teaching tends to distract the eyes from the objective promises of the gospel to focus inwardly or elsewhere. Specifically, there are four areas of false teaching that causes Christians to go into despair and doubt their salvation. Let’s examine them, together.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/desperate-evicted-male-entrepreneur-standing-near-window-3771129/

Conflation of Law & Gospel

Mixing of the Law & Gospel is perhaps the main premise of Christian doubt. In Scripture, these were meant to be separated but not mutually exclusive to each other. For this reason, it’s easy to conflate the two and launch our consciences into terror. Keeping these two aspects of Scripture within their proper places is vital. The Law demands that we fulfill obligations to God, threatening us with punishments if we do not fulfill them and promising blessings if we do fulfill them. The gospel, on the other hand, only offers us promises without the expectations of performance. It is based entirely upon the mercy of God in Christ Jesus. While the Law pays its dues for kept or unkept covenants, the Gospel knows no such payment. The payment was made at the cross. Let the Law, therefore, be proclaimed to yourself if you find you are reveling in your sin. But if you have cried out to God for mercy and forgiveness, let the comforts of His promise to forgive your sins soothe your heart and conscience.

Checklist

One of the greatest dangers to Christians is the checklist. When we fall prey to it, we begin to not only judge others but ourselves also. We concoct an idea that holiness comes from avoiding certain activities that God is unpleased with. If we avoid these, God is happy. On the flip side, if we exert our energies in certain areas we know we should be engaging, God is sure to smile upon us and bless us. The checklist is simply another way of commingling Law and Gospel. The only difference is that we have made the conditions of blessings and curses instead letting Scripture dictate them. The negative of the checklist is that our consciences go into the self-loathing gear when we don’t or can’t check off our presupposed holy activities. If we do happen to go several days ticking all the boxes, we become conceited, looking at others and wondering why they have not yet attained to the joy of supernatural living. Obviously God demands holiness of His people. We are not to avoid the whisperings of the Law in our ear when we sin but neither can we replace the Gospel with our checklists. It will always be a fine line and we must develop the skill of properly dividing the two.

A focus on self

When I talk about self-focus, I’m not talking about meditation or yoga or some other form of Eastern religion. Self-focus is the habit Christians have of inner reflection of their sanctification. In other words, if they have been a Christian for 𝓍 number of years but seem to have only come 𝓍 miles in their Christian walk, they begin to doubt their salvation. After all, the pastor stated this in his last sermon. He is the spiritual leader. He has had the theological training. He must be right.

Wrong!

Most of us view the Christian life as a continual upward journey. But the Christian life is full of ups and downs, failings and victories. It looks more like a jagged mountain edge than a gradual ascending. When we focus on our own progress and sanctification, we will see nothing but sin and failing. As the hymn writer wrote with all truth,
prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.
Even after we are saved, we are prone to follow our flesh. We continually fight our sinful desires. The majority of self-examination passages in Scripture have to do with those indulging in gross sin while naming Christ as their Savior. When these verses are taken out of context by well-meaning pastors, it often harms much more than helps. The only solution is to look to the objective promises of the Gospel. What does this mean? An objective promise is something that is ultimately true, regardless of your feelings and doubts. It is an objective fact that Jesus was crucified for your sins and raised from the dead for your justification. It is an objective fact that He promises forgiveness of sins in His Name. It is an objective fact that all who believe on Him and call upon Him receive this promise. Instead of trying to find the goodness within yourself (you won’t find it) look instead to these objective promises and let your heart be assured.

Rejection of the Sacraments

Many scoff at the idea that the sacraments can ease our consciences and bring assurance of the gospel to us. This comes from a misunderstanding of what a sacrament is. It is an earthly, visible element which has a promised Word of God attached to the element. For example, in baptism we are promised the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Mk 16:16, Acts 2:38). The Lord’s Supper promises that all who partake of the body and blood of the Lord receive the forgiveness of sins (Mt 26:26-29). The majority of today’s churches have reduced the sacraments down to mere symbolism, thereby rejecting the efficacy of those sacraments. Baptism symbolizes our union with Christ. The Lord’s Supper symbolizes our participation in His death.

The sacraments were instituted by Christ for a reason. He never spoke of them symbolically and neither should we. For the first 1500 years of the Church, these promises were taken as they stand in Scripture, literally not symbolically. When pastors began to forsake the plain meaning of these passages for a symbolic view, their laity lost with it the precious promise of assurance and comfort with it. God knows our weaknesses and considers our plight to need these visual reminders that His promises are for us. Most would object and accuse those who hold to this view of living by sight instead of living by faith. “After all,” they would argue, “true faith needs no other object but Christ.”

Scripture is replete with God’s visual signs for His people. Again, most people would object by claiming that the majority of these signs were Old Testament signs, before the promised word of the Gospel. But are we now any different than those Israelites? Are we any less prone to unbelief when they had the physical manifestations of God in their midst while we have the presence of God dwelling within us? Even in the New Testament, God’s people were given physical, visible signs of Jesus’ coming. Even the book of Hebrews classifies spiritual gifts with the physical manifestation of God’s promises. If God used ordinary physical means to assure us that His promises are true and real, we have no reason to reject the sacraments based solely upon a different theological perspective. Receive the sacraments and rest assured that the promise attached to it is indeed a promise you may objectively cling to.

Conclusion

Doubt comes through the false teaching of failing to properly distinguish between Law & Gospel. All of the things mentioned above are some form of mixing the two together. Our hearts will be more assured and our consciences will find the peace we search for as we learn the skill of properly dividing Law & Gospel. For more information on properly dividing Law & Gospel, you can read this section of Luther’s Large Catechism. God bless you as you seek to cling to His precious promises of forgiveness and assurance.

To Thy Wounds I Flee

Too often, it’s easy to drown in depression after sinning. Without too much commentary, I hope this original poem will encourage you to seek God’s mercy and forgiveness, even when you don’t “feel” like you deserve it. Happy pre-Lord’s Day. Meditate on His grace and mercy given to you at the cross.

To Thy Wounds I Flee

When sin overtakes me

and my conscience berates me

for undying mercy I grieve

If guilt here, besets me

and grief shall come o’er me

to Thy wounds I will flee

Thy wounds, they bleed for me

Even though guilty, I be

Mercy and love have spilt out Thy blood

O Lord, to Thy wounds I flee


When life’s tempests plague me

and Satan upsets me

so that from righteous living I cease

When earthly friends scorn me

or the wicked adorn me

to Thy wounds I will flee

Thy wounds, they bleed for me

Even though guilty, I be

Mercy and love have spilt out Thy blood

O Lord, to Thy wounds I flee


When all else has failed me

no vain things availing

Then only Thy beauty I may see

When my heart has beguiled me

to seek One besides Thee

to Thy wounds I will flee

Thy wounds, they bleed for me

Even though guilty, I be

Mercy and love have spilt out Thy blood

O Lord, to Thy wounds I flee

© Steven Long 2022

Fear Not. 10 Biblical Reasons You Can Stop Doubting Your Salvation

Inevitably it happens. You commit sin and are grieved over it. You repent and try to move on. But that nagging feeling in the back of your mind gets you every time. You start to ask yourself if you were sincere enough or sorry enough for that sin. Doubt creeps in and depression takes hold. Eventually, doubt gives way to fear and fear metamorphs to anger. The cycle you experience is much like that of the Israelites in the book o f Judges. They sin and call on God time and again. And time and again they fall back into apostasy.

Like the Israelites, you feel powerless. The only thing you know to do is to call on the Lord. And my friend, that is enough! It may seem too simple a thing that God can simply forgive you. But in Christ Jesus, He already has. Here are 10 biblical reasons you can stop doubting your salvation or stop doubting that God has forgiven you after you cry out to Him.

1. God desires to be gracious to you (Isaiah 55:1) Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

God’s offer of forgiveness to you is one that requires nothing in return but acceptance. Remember that the context of this passage is God talking to His own rebellious people who continually swayed back and forth into apostasy. When you are in doubt, you may indeed have forgiveness without cost. You may simply call out to the Lord and know that He has heard and forgiven you.

2. God swears by His own Name (Hebrews 6:13) For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself.

The entire book of Hebrews focuses on the superiority of God’s covenant in Jesus as superior to any other covenant or divine thing, even the heavenly angels. God promised the blessing of Abraham’s Seed (Jesus) to the entire world and He ratified this promise by swearing upon His own Name. The International Critical Commentary focuses on the Greek word ὀμνύω (swear) and states,

Taking Abraham as the first or as a typical instance of steadfast faith in God’s promises, the writer now (vv. 13–19) lays stress not upon the human quality, but upon the divine basis for this undaunted reliance. Constancy means an effort. But it is evoked by a divine revelation; what stirs and sustains it is a word of God. From the first the supreme Promise of God has been guaranteed by him to men so securely that there need be no uncertainty or hesitation in committing oneself to this Hope

(Moffatt, J. (1924). A critical and exegetical commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews p. 85. T&T Clark International) [emphasis are mine]

You can rest assured that God’s promise to you in Christ is certain and unchangeable.

3. God cannot lie. (Hebrews 6:17-18) So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,  so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us

The writer of Hebrews follows up his former example of God swearing an oath by Himself by grounding that promise in the fact that God cannot lie. Your salvation, and mine, are based solely upon this oath. If you’re looking for a reason to ground this hope within yourself, you will fall into despair. While we falter and waiver in our commitment to the Lord, He never waivers with us because He cannot lie about His promise of Christ to you!

4. God’s plan to save you was written in eternity past. (Ephesians 1:3-4) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

According to Ephesians, God chose you in Christ before He created the world. He did not leave to chance all those that will be finally saved. Our election in Christ should be a great source of comfort, knowing that the security of our election is in God’s own hands.

5. God’s promise of salvation is objective. (Luke 24:45-47) Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

When we talk about something being objective, we mean something that does not depend on us or something that is outside of us. The Latin phrase Extra Nos is used to describe this objective standard. In Luke 24:45-47 Jesus places Himself as the object for the forgiveness of sins.This means that He is the objective standard, He is the object of faith, and He is the one who decides the basis upon which forgiveness is granted. HIs only requirement is faith in His finished work which causes us to turn to Him in repentance. Believer, the object of your faith and the assurance of forgiveness rests on Christ alone.

6. God’s promise is not dependent upon your failures or successes. (Genesis 28:15) Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

This may seem like an odd Scripture to put forth as proof of God’s promises. But think closely on the context: Jacob is fleeing for his life. He. with the help of his mother, has just swindled the birthright of his brother for himself. And the odd thing about this? God had already promised Rebekah back in Genesis 25:22-23 that Jacob would receive the blessing. In other words, Jacob didn’t have to steal it. It was already his. And in the passage above, God appears to Jacob after he stole, cheated, swindled the promise and yet God reaffirms this covenant to him. Christian, God is faithful to His promises even when you fail. And just like Jacob, His promises are not dependent upon your own failures. Let this be a source of comfort to you in times of failure.

7. Your “feelings” don’t sway God’s feelings. (Psalm 5:1-2, 7) Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray…But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.

The Psalms are full of every kind of emotion imaginable to the human heart. They speak of joy and sorrow, anxiety and peace, sorrow and gladness. While mortals express these emotions to the Almighty in prayer, He will still hear and fulfill His promises. Consider what Augustine says of this particular Psalm in his commentary:

The Psalmist well shows what this cry is; how from within, from the chamber of the heart, without the body’s utterance, it reaches unto God: for the bodily voice is heard, but the spiritual is understood. Although this too may be God’s hearing, not with carnal ear, but in the omnipresence of His Majesty

Schaff, P., ed. (1888). Saint Augustin: Expositions on the Book of Psalms (Vol. 8, p. 12). Christian Literature Company.

God heard David when he cried for deliverance. And He will certainly not hide from you when you cry.

8. God was faithful even to those who “blew” it. (Judges 16:20, 28) And he [Samson] awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him…Then Samson called to the Lord and said, “O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me only this once, O God, that I may be avenged on the Philistines for my two eyes.”

Samson is a man who squandered what God had given him. Reading through the story of Samson in Judges 16-18, we see that he broke every single vow of the Nazarite, one that was supposed to make him holy and set apart to God. While God’s chastisement finally caught up to him, Samson cried out to God in the midst of it and God heard him. Samson is recored in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Faith amongst those who received their due from God by faith. How is it that Samson could be so sinful and God hear him? Because God’s deliverance of His people was not about Samson. It was about God’s promise. God’s promise will never be nullified when you fail. Like Samson, when you cry out to God, He will hear you and deliver you once again.

9. God saved the worst people in the Bible. (Matthew 10:2-4) The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

If ever there was an example of God saving bad people in the Bible, it would be amongst His very own disciples. Peter was brash and quick to speak. James and John wanted Jesus to kill a bunch of Samaritans. Judas betrayed Jesus. but one in particular, Simon the Zealot, comes to mind. He belonged to a radical political group that wanted liberation from the Romans. Many of these Zealots would go even as far as political assassination. Easton’s Bible Dictionary gives us a bit of insight into what a Zealot was.

A sect of Jews which originated with Judas the Gaulonite (Acts 5:37). They refused to pay tribute to the Romans, on the ground that this was a violation of the principle that God was the only king of Israel. They rebelled against the Romans, but were soon scattered, and became a lawless band of mere brigands. They were afterwards called Sicarii, from their use of the sica, i.e., the Roman dagger.

Easton, M. G. (1893). In Illustrated Bible Dictionary and Treasury of Biblical History, Biography, Geography, Doctrine, and Literature p. 701. Harper & Brothers.

Though we are not privy to Simon’s role within this group, we are told that he was a part of it. This implies that Jesus didn’t care about money or status when He called the disciples. They were bad men. We are bad people. Yet God still desires to save and change us. Thank God for His mercy!

10. God promises to forgive those who confess their sin. (1John 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

John was writing to a group of believers to combat the heresy of a form of Gnosticism known as Doceticism. This “philosophy” stated that the flesh was evil and the spirit was good. As a consequence, people began to deny Jesus’ humanity and believe that how they lived in the flesh had no eternal consequences. John emphatically denies this and tells his hearers that those who deny their sins do not have the Spirit of God living in them. In contrast, he states that those who do acknowledge and confess their sins before God are assured of forgiveness. The Lutheran scholar, Lenski, gives us a bit of insight.

“Faithful is he and righteous” refers to God. John has just mentioned “his Son” and the fellowship effected by the blood of his Son and the fact that the remission of our sins is fellowship with God. “Faithful” means true to his promise, and this is placed first; “and righteous” with its forensic sense as it is here added to “faithful” and its connotation of promise states that, when he acquits us according to his promise, God, our Judge, is and remains “righteous.” 

Lenski, R. C. H. (1966). The interpretation of the epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude, pp. 392-93. Augsburg Publishing House. [emphasis are mine]

Oh! what blessedness to know that God is faithful first to His own promise and that by being faithful, He is justified in forgiving us. It should never be a question of “how can God forgive my awful sin?” but it should only be a matter of, “He has promised to do it and I believe Him.” God’s faithfulness to His own promise is rooted in His word and Name.

Conclusion

Dear friend, we are all prone to be swayed and be tossed along with our emotions. In our times of failure and depression, let us remember these ten Scriptural promises God has given to us. Let us rehearse them in our minds and preach them to our hearts daily. Then we will sing and exclaim with the Psalmist, Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit (Psalm 32:1-2).

Diagram Devotional (Hebrews 12:1-2)

As believers in Christ, we are all in a marathon. This marathon is much different from its earthly counterpart. There is a prize—and a punishment for not finishing or not entering at all. It’s grueling to think that we are in one race or another, taking one side or another without being aware. But the Bible affirms that the race we run will either be within the Gate Broad or the Gate Narrow (Matthew 7:13-14).

Fortunate for us, God’s grace is as broad as it is deep. He has provided not only a way to finish this race but also Someone who already has. Our devotional focuses on Hebrews 12:1-2. Below is an English diagram along with some of my own thoughts. A full-sized diagram can be downloaded with the provided link on the bottom of the picture.

The Diagram

English Diagram of Hebrews 12:1-2.

Notes

Diagram colors:
Red = main subject/clause
Purple = participial/participial clause-phrase
Green = subordinating/coordinate conjunction

The chapter starts with the familiar “Therefore…” which looks back at the preceding Hebrews 11, affectionately called the Hall of Faith. Chapter 11 lays out the men and women whose faith is praised, going as far as to highlight the fact that even though they tasted earthly death their faith gave them the sight to see since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect (11:40).

The main clause, Let us run the race, and the prevailing idea, is sandwiched between two participle phrases. I believe these two phrases are complimentary to the main verb as both are circumstantial and give the means as to how we are to run the race (i.e., the Christian life). Circumstantial participles, though not the main verb, can shed light on a text as Greek scholar, Herbert Smyth points out.

The circumstantial participle is added, without the article, to a noun or pronoun to set forth some circumstance under which an action, generally the main action, takes place…Such participles usually have the force of subordinate clauses added to the main verb by conjunctions denoting time, condition, cause, etc; but may often be rendered by adverbial phrases or even by a separate finite verb, which brings out distinctly the idea latent in the participle(Smyth, H. W. (1920). A Greek Grammar for Colleges. New York; Cincinnati; Chicago; Boston; Atlanta: American Book Company, pg. 456-457 – Logos Edition).

  • The first participial clause, let us lay aside every weight and sin, precedes the main verb. According to Steve Runge,  Research Associate in the Department of Ancient Studies at the University of Stellenbosch, this clause is a literary device known as a Topical Frame. It serves to “front” a specific action, in this case, the running of the race. (Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament-Logos Edition). The author then proceeds to tell us why we are to perform this action. It is because of those who had gone before them. The attributive participle since we are surrounded refers specifically to the heroes of chapter 11. It gives the audience a sense of hope that they are not the only ones to “give up” something of temporal value.
  • The second participle phrase is looking unto Jesus. It is connected to the main subject and verb let us run and describes the manner in which this is to occur. BDAG (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature), gives two possible definitions for this word: the first is to direct ones attention to without distraction. The second is to develop a more precise knowledge about something or someone. (Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pg. 158 Logos Edition). The first definition seems to fit the context much better. But the question remains of how one is to look to Jesus? I believe the answer is found in our first participle clause: we look, fix, gaze our attention upon Jesus by laying aside every weight and sin which so easily clings to us. Since the participle looking is subordinate to the main verb and is connected to the participial phrase lay aside every weight and sin by the coordinating conjunction καὶ (and), I believe the author of Hebrews is admonishing his audience from apostatizing by laying that temptation aside to gaze upon the sure and steadfast anchor of the soul (Heb 6:19).

The author now turns to the focus of the Christian life, Jesus, whom he calls the founder and perfecter of the Christian faith. Interestingly, the author points out two parallels between our own race and that of the Savior.

First, just as Jesus has endured the cross, we are to run our race with endurance. The word ὑπομένω (hupōmenō) is used in both cases and indicates maintaining a belief or course of action in the face of opposition (BDAG). The recipients of this epistle were in danger of turning back from the faith because of opposition from the Jewish community. They must now run with endurance in the same way the Founder of their faith had to hupōmenō His own course which led to death on the cross!

A second seemingly parallel is the idea that both Jesus’ course and our course is laid out for us to see. Again, the author uses the same Greek word for both, πρόκειμαι (prokemai). He uses the word in chapter 6 to describe our future hope, as well. And interestingly, the word is also used in Jude to refer to the example of the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah. All of this appears to indicate that whatever course is marked out for the author’s audience, it will take not only endurance, but a dependence on the One who finished the race against all opposition that was before Him.

Application

The Christian life is indeed a marathon. It is not something to be entered into lightly, as Jesus Himself has told us, “Consider the cost.” (Luke 14:28) The race is full of dangers, oppositions, temptations, fleshly enemies, and the powers of Hell itself opposes all who would enter into the narrow gate. The only way to finish the race is by fixing our gaze upon the One who has already won, laying aside and cutting off anything and everything that would hinder us from reaching the finish line. Our Savior has given us gifts to complete our race.

First, and chiefly, He has given us Himself as the sacrifice which is pleasing to the Father. Without His merits and atonement, we would not even be able to enter into the race and we would be left on our own to walk in this realm, unaided and uncared for.

Second, He has given us the gifts of baptism and His body & blood. These visible, physical elements are His way to aid us in our endurance. We feast on His body and blood to revive our weary sin-stained souls so that we may continue to run (John 6:55-56). And in our baptism, we are daily reminded that our old Adam must be drowned and our new life must rise from the flood waters and live moment by moment unto Christ (Romans 6:1-6).

Dear Christian brothers and sisters, be encouraged that your race, your problems, your trials, are not so peculiar that there has never been one to endure what you endure. Know that Christ has already won Life for you by perfectly submitting to the Father. Be encouraged that His gifts are sufficiently and abundantly provided to you so that you too, when crossing the finish line will hear, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

The Objective Work of Christ Is Your Surety

Struggling with assurance of salvation seems to be a common thing. Like the Israelites in the book of Judges, we sin, experience God’s chastising hand, repent, return to God, and sin once again.

It is a depressing cycle. It is the constant battle of the spirit and the flesh. Through your Christian walk, you have certainly come to realize that truly the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41). These emotions are powerful and run deep within our souls. If we let them, they will paralyze us in fear and keep us from serving our God.

What can we do then, to get us through these difficult moments? We turn to the Word of God! Here are three things that we can remeber during these weak moments:

Firstly, remember that God knows our weaknesses

Psalm 103:14 declares, For he knows our frame;  he remembers that we are dust. This is a beautiful Psalm about the goodness and care of God over His people. It begins with the Psalmist praising God for His goodness and benefits, which include:

  • forgiveness of sin (verse 3)
  • redemption (verse 4)
  • earthly gifts (verse 5)

He then moves to the theme of God’s compassion. Verses 6-9 tells us that though God could deal with us according to our sin, He is merciful and instead chooses to show us love and compassion. By the time we reach verses 13 and 14, we get a clear understanding of how David views God: God, like an earthly father, shows compassion on us because of our frailty. He knows and understands our weaknesses. Let this thought be a comfort when you are in doubt because of your sin.

Secondly, remember your baptism

Modern Evangelicalism has duped many into believing that baptism is nothing more than a mere symbol or act of obedience. Scripture proclaims our baptism as so much more. It depicts baptism as our entrance into Christ’s death. In Romans 6, Paul demonstrates that just as we were buried with Christ through baptism, we also will be raised to live a life of righteousness to the glory of God the Father.

Baptism is our “anchor” into Christ’s atoning work. Peter tells us that baptism saves as an appeal to God for a good conscience. We must daily drown the old Adam in our baptism and allow the new Adam to come forth. It is a daily thing. We will fail. We will give in to our flesh. We will sin. But we have the promise of our baptism, that through Christ’s work and resurrection, we are forgiven and washed (Eph 5:26, Titus 3:5, 1Pe 3:21).

For more info on the efficacy of baptism, download the PDF article, New Life Through Baptism from the Lutheran Study Bible.

Lastly, remember Christ’s atoning work

Of the many verses that capture the reason behind the Son’s incarnation into our world, this verse says it the best. It is simplistic yet profound. Lutheran scholar R.H. Lenski said of John 3:16, “The “must,” the compulsion, lies in the wonder of God’s love and purpose. By telling Nicodemus this in such lucid, simple language Jesus sums up the entire gospel in one lovely sentence, so rich in content that, if a man had only these words and nothing of the rest of the Bible, he could by truly apprehending them be saved”. (Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel, p.258, Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1961.)

It is indeed one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible. It matters not whether you “feel” saved or if you’ve sinned greatly, or you think there is no returning because this time you really blew it. Stop using subjectivity to ascertain your standing before God! Your surety lies in the objective work of Christ alone. It is the promise of forgiveness through His death and resurrection and His word does not change, regardless of your feelings.

Take comfort in this and understand that your assurance rests with Him, not your feelings.

My soul hath naught a reason for despairing/in times of doubt mine eyes will look above/for Jesus, bless-ed Consolation/secures me fast with mercy and with love

The Law revealing, self-merit dare not stand/its accusations doth my conscience sting/But Jesus, bless-ed Consolation/Thy perfect work, my guilty conscience pleads

Salvation wrought, my weary soul rejoices/The Law, with all its power o’er me hath lost/This Jesus, bless-ed Consolation/His love, His blood, hath nailed it to the cross

In desert drought or valley lows descending/even death as its last breath shall groan/My Jesus, bless-ed Consolation/with joy and laude I’ll worship at Thy throne

Christ’s Righteousness Is Better than the Whitest Snow

This is a post from 1517.org. I couldn’t have said it any better. It is a beautiful example of Christ cleansing a sinner.

Christ, The Sinner’s Once-for-All Rest

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Here, in the offer of Jesus exists an invitation like no other. Who of us can say that we are not weary? How many can boast that the Law does not make their consciences heavy laden? We are creatures of doing and we pursue that doing, usually until the day we die. But our pursuit of doing something, anything, is detrimental to our spirituality because Jesus has told us, “Come…”

We hear the invitation; yea, we long for it! But at the first, we look for a different way, a harder way, for resting surely cannot be the way to ease the Law’s ever-stinging accusations in our consciences. No! We must work to please God. We must pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and truck on through the muddy sin that continually plagues us. And in all our wanderings and turning aways we still hear, “Come…”

“Come…” is the invitation that Jesus offers. Yet the very next thing He speaks is the imperative of coming: “Take My yoke upon you.” But why a yoke? Will this not give us a burden as well? Jesus’ yoke is not a burden of the Law, but rather the yoke of grace which He freely offers through the Sacraments. As Lenski so eloquently states, Indeed, the gospel and the doctrine of faith are a yoke in that they are full of commands, all of them gospel commands, however, commands to take, to trust, to feast, to inherit, and the like. (Lenski, R. C. H. (1961). The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel. p 457. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House.)


Salvation brought, my weary soul rejoices/the Law, with all its power o’er me hath lost/This Jesus, bless-ed Consolation; His love, His blood, hath nailed it to the cross.

The invitation stands for all. Those who come to Christ and find His rest will surely not be sorry. They will find that, just as He promised, the yoke that so many of us believed to be even heavier than the Law, is quite light as He carries the burden. To quote Lenski one more time, he says of this invitation

Here the good pleasure of the Father’s and the Son’s will is most delightfully voiced. Here the babes receive the revelation which, because it is distasteful to the wise, is lost and hidden from them because of this very folly…Christ is the end of the law to those who believe. He removes the sin and the guilt, he does the saving. All we need to do is to commit ourselves to Him.

Lenski, R. C. H. (1961). The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel, pp.456-457. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House.

Sinners, let us find our once-for-all rest in the offer of Jesus. Until we do our weary souls will be burdened with a burden to heave to bear. May God bring you peace through His Gospel promises.