Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Vision (4/12/12): Am I really a Christian? Answering Eight Doubts (Continued)

Am I really a Christian?  Answering Eight Doubts (Continued)

Simplified and Abridged from Thomas Boston

Note:  In his spiritual classic “Human Nature In Its Fourfold State,” the Scottish minister Thomas Boston (1676-1732) lists eight “cases” where a true Christian might have spiritual doubts about the authenticity of his faith.  Here is the third of the eight doubts:

Third Doubt:  I find that my heart has been in more turmoil after I became a Christian than it was before.  Is this consistent with someone who is supposed to have been changed by Christ?

Answer:  There are indeed dreadful cases of persons who appear to have become Christians, but who later renounce the faith and fall into gross and open immorality.  It seems that the devil returns to their hearts with seven spirits worse than himself (cf. Matthew 12:45).  Such persons are in an incredibly dangerous spiritual state.  They risk sinning against the Holy Spirit.  They must repent, before it is too late.

This is not necessarily the case, however, with you.  Corruption can be stirred up in a Christian even more strongly than it was before he became a Christian.  It might appear to you that all the forces of hell have been raised to try to recapture you as an escaped fugitive.  Such stirrings may indeed occur in those truly changed by Christ.  When restraining grace comes up against the corruption in a new believer, it is no wonder that it tries to fight back, “warring against the law of the mind” (Romans 7:23).  Sin will resist all the harder when it knows this new principle is seeking to cast it out.  When the sun shines through a window we see all the dust in the house that we did not see before.  So when the light of grace shines in our lives, we see the corruption inside us that we had not noticed before.  Sin is not quite dead in the believer’s soul.  It is dying a lingering death.  It is being crucified.  No wonder it begins to fight so hard!  It knows it is about to die, so it struggles to live.

Besides all this, the Christian might be faced with more and stronger temptations after his conversion.  Satan has to work harder to try to bring back one who has escaped than he does to guard one who is still a captive. The author of Hebrews says, “After ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions” (Hebrews 10:32).  He then adds, “cast not away your confidence” (v. 35).  Remember that God’s grace is sufficient for you, and the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. Remember how Pharaoh and the Egyptians had the Israelites cornered at the Red Sea, but then God intervened and overthrew them (Exodus 14).

Do not let this doubt destroy the foundation of your trust.  Empty yourself.  Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, and you will be victorious.         

 Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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