I have been having a spiritual battle for a while now and I really just need some advice and spiritual wisdom.
I accepted (or believed to have accepted Christ) when I was very young. Roughly 8 or 9 years old at a Christian family camp. I have seen in my life my consistency or pursuit to stay in the church and be surrounded by other Christians. I also feel like I have a great abundance of knowledge and spiritual wisdom from my parents and God. Besides the point, within the last year (I’m 18 now) I have realized my personal relationship with Jesus is lacking. My devotion to prayer, reading the Bible was not very prominent and I have felt the urge and desire to start praying more and spending time with God. I will sometimes just close my eyes and pray asking God to forgive me and that he is Lord to be sure but I get scared because sometimes I Have doubts regarding God or Jesus and that’s where faith comes in but does that mean because I don’t have full belief sometimes I may not be a Christian? My family assures me I am but I guess the enemy has been fighting me to think otherwise. Any words of wisdom?
@luke.shirley let me begin by telling you something helpful that a brother once told me. If you were not saved you would not be struggling with this. Meaning if you feel you need to spend more time in prayer and the word, it is most likely Holy Spirit wanting more time with you. Go for it. Make it a regular part of your day!
I would like you to read this post by @SeanO that I have found to be very helpful on this topic. What do you think about the three signs he quotes? How would you say you are doing in these areas?
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves tosee whether youareinthefaith ; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you-unless, of course, you fail the test?” This is what I see you doing and I encourage you to always continue to do so.
If you have confessed with your mouth that Jesus is lord and believe in your heart then you are saved. Only you and God know if you truly believe in your heart.
@luke.shirley Thank you so much for sharing You know, there are still days where I have strong feelings of doubt and there are times God feels distant. As a young Christian, these times did make me question my salvation and caused anxiety, but over time I learned that these times of doubt are an opportunity for us to lay our lives at Jesus’ feet and press into prayer. Doubt does not mean that we are not saved. Doubt is just part of being human. We all doubt. What matters is how we behave in the face of doubt.
As Christians, we choose to obey Christ even when we have doubts or do not understand because we trust in His love and goodness. Part of growing from a baby Christian to a mature Christian is learning to have peace even in the midst of our doubts, knowing that Christ is with us - in the Bible this is often called perseverance.
Looking at 2 Peter, I think you are on the right path! You are growing in faith, goodness, and knowledge - and you are learning to persevere in the face of doubt. Keep it up!
2 Peter 1:5-8 - For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You may also find the following resources helpful for understanding why doubt is not our enemy and how we can handle doubt when it arises by leaning into Jesus and waiting patiently on the Lord. May Christ give you peace and understanding
Faith vs Psychological Certainty
I don’t agree with everything Greg Body teaches, but I think on this topic he absolutely nails it.
Big Idea: Biblical Faith isn’t about trying to attain psychological certainty; it’s about committing to a course of action in the face of uncertainty
And here are some of his critiques of seeking psychological certainty in place of Biblical faith:
it offers a picture of God that is not like Christ because it makes faith seem like a game to have psychological certainty
it causes a phobia of learning because learning can cause doubt and certainty is the main goal
it sets people up to fail
certainty-seeking faith is idolatrous because it finds life in what you believe rather than Who you believe in
Even the apostle Paul had his doubts. In Romans 7 He tells us that though he wants to do well with his mind, he nevertheless ends up falling way short because of the law of sin and death. But at the end of chapter 7, he gives us the key to victory over sin: God has given us the victory thru our Lord Jesus Christ. This is because even though the law of sin and death still is in effect, the law of the Spirit has set us free!
Hi @luke.shirley! It is not a freeing feeling to struggle with doubts. To answer your first question “Am I a Christian?” It May be beneficial to know what it means to be a Christian. In Acts 11:26 explains that the believers were first called Christians at Antioch. They were called Christians because they followed after Christ. In order to follow Christ we must believe that Jesus Christ is God, that He rose from the dead and then love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength which results in obedience to Him (Romans 10:9, Matthew 22:37-38, John 14:23).
When struggling with wether or not we are saved, it helps to examine what we are basing our salvation off of; whether it is our goodness, our heritage, the prayer we prayed, our doctrine, or the promises in God’s word to those who believe God and love Him. When we don’t believe God, it is a sin. There are many places in the Bible where God’s work was hindered because of unbelief. And when we do not believe what God has done or said we are not trusting Him. We are saying by our life that He is not trustworthy to us. Once we step out in faith and trust Him with all our heart and believe then the next step is obedience to Him. Without trusting Him we cannot completely obey Him (“Without Faith it is impossible to please Him” Hebrews 11:6). Sometimes we just need to start trusting God no matter how we feel. Sometimes God seems to hold back from us to see how bad we want Him. He wants us to seek after and pursue Him to show Him how faithful we may be to Him. How bad do you want Him.
Another factor that could be effecting our struggle often times may be hidden sins in our life. That does not mean we “lost” our salvation, but it does hurt our relationship with God to where we are not as close to Him anymore, which can bring thoughts of uncertainty of our friendship with Him similar to how a friendship here on earth is severed when one friend wrongs the other friend. Jesus calls us His friends (John 15:14-15) and that is why He died for our sins. It’s so that we might be reconciled with God in fellowship. We are never going to be perfect as long as we are on this earth, but God does want us to have an open heart towards Him that will be in constant communion, or fellowship with Him.
Another aspect, when doubting our salvation, kind of goes along with what I mentioned earlier. What are we seeking after? When we seek after religion, we will find religion, even if it’s just Christianity in terms of “playing” the part of a “good Christian”. When we seek “salvation” in terms of a pass to heaven we will still not find the satisfaction that only Jesus can give. But when we seek Jesus and enter a relationship with Jesus Christ, we will surely find Salvation, for Jesus means Salvation . And then our focus is turned from our doubts and fears and turned to gaze into the face of Jesus (which A.W. Tozer describes as faith in his book “The Pursuit of God”) thus resulting in an abounding relationship that produces fruit (John 15:4-5, Galatians 5:22-23).
Seek Jesus, draw close to Him (James 4:8) and want Him badly. Believe Him, Trust in the Lord.
I hope this helps you find freedom in Christ and soon walking in a radiant relationship with Christ (John 8:32, Matthew 5:16).
I agree with what @LauraLinzey stated, “It may be beneficial to know what it means to be a Christian.” I believe it is possible for a person who is saved to not be a full Christian. A Christian basically means a follower of Christ. Yet, one can follow Christ in word and in action, but they may not be following Him in spirit and truth—from the heart, the core passions and desire of Christ. I believe it is healthy for even God’s children to evaluate their hearts and answer the question of whether we are true Christians in this journey we are traveling on. I like what the Psalmist said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalms 139:23, 24 When a child is not obeying his daddy, he is not disowned right then and there. An appropriate and loving daddy would disciple and help to cultivate the child’s heart into obedience. In the same way, a child of the Heavenly Father can still represent the Family by carrying Christ’s name (Christian in word), but he may not be walking as a Christian in truth, in the life he is living. Thus, he gives a distorted representation of Who he is supposed to reflect.
I have doubted my salvation so many times over the years. And honestly, a lot of it was because I didn’t know if I “prayed the right things”, or if I had repented of ALL my sin when I received Christ and when He saved me. I found myself looking at what I DID, instead of looking back to the time when my focus was fixed on my Savior’s Life and what HE DID for me. It is easy for one to get caught up with what the person did at “the alter”, instead of having the time to where that one’s heart realized his need for the LORD to intervene and be Savior and LORD. These can look similar, but the heart’s place of longing is slightly different. The actions might look the same at “the alter” (I.e. praying and asking God to have mercy and enter in with forgiveness and eternal Salvation and Kingship), But one heart can “say the words in just the right way”, while the other heart is broken and wants Jesus—Salvation by definition (in word…) and by bringing eternal Life and Light from death and darkness (…and in truth). That is what gave me the restful assurance of salvation for me… as a 9 year old girl, I didn’t “pray the prayer” then and there, but I clearly remember my dad explaining a picture of what resembled true Salvation, and my heart was overflowing in longing for my God and in utmost gratefulness for Who He was and could be to me. My heart embraced HIM and I could help but thank Him for what He has done for me. Now later on, I prayed “the prayer” over and over to make sure I said the right things because I wanted to be certain. But the LORD showed me that He was the Savior and not me, and as the Bible says, “ And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Acts 16:31 God pointed me back to when I, in my childlike faith, looked to Him for my Life. Have we, to our heart’s core—our inmost passions and state of being, placed faith in the One Who loves us and wants all to come to Him with humble brokenness. For then, He can lift us up and set us on our feet, and lead us in the way everlasting.