I have confidence in...?
As I look back over all the sermons I heard while growing up. I cannot remember a single sermon emphasizing the fact that we can have confidence in our salvation. On the other hand I remember many sermons telling me all of the ways that I can lose my salvation! I read passages like I Corinthians 9:27 where Paul says; "But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." Paul here is telling us that he had to discipline his body to ensure he did not lose his salvation! Other passages reinforce this fact (Matt: 6:15, Matt: 19:21-35, Matt: 10:22-32, Luke 12:41-46, 1 Cor. 15:1-2, Colossians 1:22-23, Hebrews 3:6, 14, Rev. 2:10, 25-36, 3:1-5, 2 Peter 2:20-22). I heard sermons on what it means to live a Christian life, and all that entails. (Here are some good articles on what it means to be a Christian: Commandments , Saved Through Water, Do You Really Love God?, Shall we continue in sin?) I would then read the book of I John and see passages like: I John 2:28 "And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.", or I John 3:21 "Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; ", or I John 4:17 "By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world." I did not feel like I could have confidence in my salvation because I saw all of the sin in my own life.
Are you looking for confidence in yourself, or in God?
My problem was that I was looking for confidence in my own actions! And, no wonder I could not find confidence! The root of my problem was a lack of faith in God! Following the commands of Christ (John 14:15), requires discipline (I Corinthians 9:27) and perseverance (Ephesians 6:18). But it is by no means an insurmountable task. If we focus on following the Lord, having faith that he will forgive us our trespasses there is no reason we cannot eargerly await the judegement day!
I believe I John 1:8-10 holds the key to having confidence in our salvation.
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:5-10
Here John tells us several key truths. The first is that to be a Christian we must follow Christ. We must "walk in the light, as he is in the light". If we are following Christ and we sin, John tells us we must confess and repent of our sins and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. If we are to have confidence we must have confidence in the grace of our Lord, and not ourselves.