Sometimes, after someone has a salvation experience, doubt will start to creep in about whether the experience was genuine. People can wonder “am I really saved?” Jesus desires us to have a secure relationship with Him so that we are like a house built upon a rock. To understand how we can begin to come into this type of relationship, I would like to quote an excerpt from Rev. David Wallis’ book, Handbook for New Believers.
“When you became a Christian, you were transferred from the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of God. However, your former master Satan is the prince of this earth, and his desire is for you to backslide and turn back to the old life. We have therefore included six ways that you can be assured that you are truly a Christian. They are as follows:
1.) YOU BECOME A TARGET OF SATAN: One of the first evidences that you are truly a Christian is that you quickly become a target of Satan. Because you have received God’s free gift of salvation, Satan knows that now he has lost control over you. Consequently, every chance he gets he will attack you. In fact, he has become your greatest enemy and he will do anything to stop you from living for the Lord.
One of the foremost ways he attacks you is to cause doubt in your mind about your salvation. Often he tempts you to think such thoughts as “I am not really saved. I am just the same as I always was before!” However, this is not your own mind thinking these thoughts, but rather it is Satan planting these thoughts within you in order to cause discouragement and even retreat. Unfortunately, many Christians believe the doubts that Satan brings upon them instead of confessing only that which comes from God. During these times of doubt, however, you should be quoting the Word of God back to your adversary instead of giving in to his tactics.
Even Jesus the Son of God was tempted by the devil in the wilderness after He had fasted for forty days. Satan said to Jesus, “If you be the Son of God!” (Matt. 4:3-6, Luke 4:3-9).
In Jesus’ time of struggle and temptation, the devil was trying to put doubt in His mind. Yet Jesus confidently replied, quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4, NKJV). Jesus overcame the enemy by quoting the Word of God.
These same doubts overpowered Eve when Satan came to her in the garden. Eve knew that she and Adam were allowed to eat of every tree in the garden except the tree of good and evil. Yet Satan came to her and was able to cast doubts in her mind as he said, “Has God said…?” As a result, Eve fell and then Adam followed her into the transgression. This is why it is so important for you as a new believer to know the Bible.
When doubts come into your mind about your salvation, by knowing God’s Word you will realize that these thoughts and doubts are from the enemy. You can then refuse them by saying, “I rebuke you, Satan, and I thank you, Jesus, that I am a child of God. Your Word says in 1 John 5:12, ‘He that has the Son has (eternal) life.’ I believe Your Word. I thank You, Lord. I know I am a Christian!”
When Satan comes in like a flood with doubts, fears, and confusion, you are able through your study and meditation of the Bible to believe the facts of the Word of God. Therefore, any growth in your Christian life is dependent upon your knowledge of the Word of God. If you do not read the Word and feed upon it daily, you will simply not grow. Nor will you develop and mature in your Christian life.
2.) PEOPLE ATTACK YOU: When not only Satan attacks you but also others, this is another good indication that you have become a Christian. For example, some people may accuse you of pride when you tell them that you are a child of God and you know for sure that you are going to heaven. This often happens when the people around you do not know what it truly means to be a Christian. Actually, there are many people who attend Church, but they do not know whether they are saved. They have no assurance when they die that they will go to heaven.
As a new Christian, you are to trust in God’s promises, for when you truly believe His promises you are given hope, strength, and courage. You can be certain that Jesus is in your heart because that is His promise to you in Revelation 3:20. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” You can be sure that you have eternal life because you have Christ in you. First John 5:11-13 says, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”
3.) YOU HAVE THE COURAGE TO TELL OTHERS: If as the Scripture says you believe and are persuaded, you need to tell your friends and family that you are following Jesus and going on with God. You cannot be a secret Christian. It does not matter if you do not know all the answers. The most important thing is that you know Jesus has come into your heart, and if you die you will go to heaven because your sins have been forgiven.
Actually, you are much like the blind man that was healed by Jesus in John 9:25. In this particular healing, there was a dispute with the Pharisees because Jesus chose to heal the man on the Sabbath day, an activity forbidden by those who interpreted the Jewish law. The man, however, could only exclaim, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” Now that you are saved, you can say the same thing: “I was blind but now I see! I was once lost and going to hell, but now I am saved. Now I am born again. Therefore, I will trust in God’s promises because He is a holy and righteous God, and He cannot lie.”
4.) THERE WILL BE A SIGNIFICANT CHANGE IN YOUR ATTITUDE: As we have already said, when you become a Christian you are a new creation. Therefore, others expect to see new attitudes developing in your life. Obviously, this does not happen overnight. However, if you pray and read the Word of God there will be a change of attitude. You will see a change in your ability to discern what is right and wrong. Your whole lifestyle will begin to change because of the Word of God. The more you begin to see God as a loving Father, the more you will then begin to have a deep-seated hatred for sin.
5.) YOU HAVE A GROWING LOVE FOR OTHER CHRISTIANS: When you were born again you were adopted into the family of God. Our Christian family will actually be our family for all eternity. Therefore, we should have a desire in our hearts to be with them. On the other hand, there should not be a desire to be with people who are opposing God or partaking of the world’s evil ways. There should be a turning from that lifestyle. Proverbs 13:20 tells us: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed.” It is a fact that bad company corrupts good character. If a bad apple is in with good apples, what happens? They all turn bad. In the same way, when you surround yourself with bad friends, you too will become like them. So beware, new believer, and choose your friends wisely.
6.) THERE WILL BE AN INNER WITNESS IN YOUR OWN HEART: In this list, numbers one through five have dealt with outward things, but number six is quite different. When you have this inward witness, you will have a deepening conviction that God is your Father and that you are His child. In Romans 8:16, the Word tells us that: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.”
We all like to feel the presence of God. Sometimes the presence of God will be so real that you can feel Him very close to you. Sometimes you may be “slain in the Spirit,” which is because of the power of the Holy Spirit that comes upon you and causes you to fall down. When you experience these things, you feel God’s presence in a very tangible way; this is all very wonderful. However, you cannot live by these feelings. You cannot depend upon your feelings to determine whether you are saved or not. You must depend upon the fact of God’s Word.
Obviously, it should be more normal for a Christian to feel God’s presence than not to feel His presence, but it is dangerous to believe that God is there only because you feel Him. The fact that you do not feel Him also does not mean He has left you. Jesus promised that He would never leave or forsake you (Matt. 28:20). Your feelings and emotions go up and down. They change like the weather, which can be sunny or rainy, hot or cold. However, your feelings are not trustworthy indicators of your right standing with God.
An illustration of this would be an old steam train. The first car of the train is the engine, the second car is the tinder that holds the coal, and the third car is the carriage that carries the passengers. The first two are essential for the train to function. However, the third car is not essential.
Now let us compare this illustration to fact, faith, and feelings. The engine is like the fact of God’s Word and the coal tinder is like faith that makes the fact of God’s Word a reality within us. However, feelings are like the carriage—they are good to have but in no way essential in the operation of the facts of God’s Word.
It is therefore important for a Christian to realize that feelings depend upon fact and faith, not the other way around. As a new believer, if you have fact and faith, you are like a man walking a high, narrow wall. If he keeps his eye on the wall he will not fall. But if he turns around, what will happen? He will fall. So the conclusion of the matter is this: you are always to look at the fact of what God says. If you depend instead upon your feelings, you will take your eyes off God’s Word, which then gives an entrance for Satan to come in and try to make you fall by losing your faith. Stay focused, have faith, and believe God’s Word, for this is how you will know with assurance that you are truly a child of God.”