What To Do When Others Question Your Salvation
Has anyone ever questioned your salvation? Have you ever questioned your own salvation? There are references in the Bible that prescribe a change of focus and living when it comes to those who confess Jesus the King as Lord. A couple I can think of is:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESVBlessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12 ESV
Now Paul was telling the Roman Churches to be transformed in mind so that they will pass the tests of life (Jeremiah 17:10/ James 1:2-8/ 1 Peter 1:6-9). Does this mean that from the point of Paul's prescription that they were to never sin again? Transformation isn't always instant, and I would argue that it is always a slow process as we walk through this world and grow. However, when it counts, God will display His power through His children to glorify His name.
How Can We be Steadfast?
So how can a mortal man be steadfast? Perfection is a worthy goal, and should be the desire of every man who chooses to follow Jesus the King. It is also true that you will have really good days, but you will also have some really bad days as well. Jesus said, "you be perfect" (Matthew 5:48), but he was holding up the standard that only He was able to perform. It is because of the work that "He did" that we can be seen as "perfect" before the Father, and be transformed into the "perfect" that He desires. Jesus was always dropping implications of His Divinity and purpose. Sometimes He was more overt than others. Like the time in John 5 when it tells about the Pharisees challenging Jesus. I suppose you could say whatever you want about it, but what Jesus said was probably just one of the things Pharisees remembered when seeking to execute Jesus:
Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”
(John 8:58 ESV)
If the people then and now were truly able to be "perfect," why then did Jesus have to die? I think we know the answer. In addition to the "perfect" expectation, most of the time people will add a few extra tests for your perfection like: "Christians don't listen to that kind of music!" or "If he were a Christian, he wouldn't buy beer!" "If he were a Christian, he wouldn't believe the Septuagint was inspired!" "If he were a Christian, he wouldn't be an Amillennialist!" "If he were a Christian, he wouldn't vote that way!" and the list goes on. Unfortunately, this is all too common.
Confess Your Sins, and Strive for Accurate Bible Interpretation
So what are we to do? Well, Solomon and John had some good thoughts to temper those of Paul and James quoted above:
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. Proverbs 28:13 ESVIf we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 ESVMy little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 1 John 2:1 ESV
Jesus is our standard-bearer. Should we strive for perfection? Absolutely! But, only as Jesus and the Apostles prescribed it, not as some old mossy-horned legalist interprets Jesus words based on his eisegesis (Eisegesis is the process of interpreting a text or portion of text in such a way that the process introduces one's own presuppositions, agendas.). So as you can see, we must be careful in how we interpret Scripture. First we should only let the text speak for itself (exegesis is the process of interpreting the text in such a way to only expound on what is placed in the body of the writing.) and we should not foist our presuppositions upon the texts (eisegesis). I would bet to say that most of the schisms and problems that plague the Christian Church today have to do with this issue. Do you know what the source of the problem is? "Pride." Yes, pride. Too many aren't humble enough to say: "I don't know." I remember years ago listening to some guy talk on the radio about the "End Times," and he was really going after it. He was talking about how Saddam Hussein was the "antichrist" and that when the Bible talked about Locusts it really meant helicopters and all kinds of spectacular stuff. I got excited, went home and opened my Bible to see all of this great stuff that was being shared on the radio. Then I realized that I had a problem. Either I wasn't spiritual enough, or the guy on the radio suffered from a "fertile imagination." I eventually found out the latter was true, although I suppose the first was true also, but it wasn't the reason I couldn't draw out those incredible interpretations from the Bible. I also recommend going to the Elders of the Church to temper your interpretation. God has set them up as "Spiritual Shepherds" over you and your brethren. They are godly and trained in the Scriptures, so don't hesitate to talk with them or even an older man who is well learned in the Scriptures. We are not to interpret Scripture alone, but through the vein of the Church.
Expect High and Low Points in Your Walk
You may have heard the expression by Ralph Waldo Emerson: "Life's a journey, not a destination." This is true in many respects. If you have a chance to read John Bunyan's "The Pilgrim's Progress," you will see a great picture of what the Christian life is about. It is a Pilgrimage that leads you through many obstacles, temptations, snares, tricks, battles, and weariness. I personally believe God gave John Bunyan that dream, so that while he was in prison for preaching the Gospel he could share this message . One thing I do know is that God moved Bunyan's vision beyond his lifetime, and his message is still inspiring and encouraging Christians today. Expect that you will encounter low points in your walk.
If you Stop Caring, be Concerned
One thing that is true about self-examination and examining a wayward brother is his care about the matter. I have questioned my standing with God and others have as well. When that happens, I step back and examine myself.
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 2 Corinthians 13:5 ESV
This is good to do once and a while. Stepping back to survey the landscape is a necessary practice. Thankfully I have brothers who will challenge me in my walk due to a sin they observed, or maybe even percieved an ungodly attitude in me. I recommend surrounding yourself with honest brethren (or sisters for the ladies) who are not afraid to tell you the truth, even if it isn't always palatable. Remember that a humble and wise man welcomes correction. If you get to the point where you don't care about what is right, or you are unwilling to yield to a brother who is correcting you over a sinful act, then you are in dangerous territory. I'm not saying that a brother or even you can't be wrong about yourself, but remember that we must examine and be slow to speak. Once you fail to consider someone's correction, you are not in a good place. The problem is if you don't care, well, you won't heed anything the Scriptures say about your sin that you love.
It is hard to determine one's standing with God sometimes. A true Christian is doing battle against the temptations of the flesh, world, and devil on a daily basis. Sometimes he will lose a battle, sometimes he will yield to the enemy, and sometimes he will win. As you grow in Christ and the renewal of your mind, you will gain strength over sin that you never had before. Sometimes this can happen fast, but with some sins, this is slow. Be patient, and continue to fight. Remember that if you care, you are still in a good place to win the war. Once you totally give up any desire for God and holiness, then you are making your way into the enemy camp to join his legions.