You may be a fairly stubborn person, having a tough streak in you, and that may work to your advantage in much of your life. But Satan knows it. He realises that as soon as you have gone a short distance in the Christian life, made great discoveries and proved the Lord with answers to prayer, you will be almost immovable. So the devil will throw everything at you in the opening months of your Christian life to try to demoralise you and take you off track. It is vital for us to know what to expect. I am not writing to unbelievers, says the apostle John, for they have not found the Lord. I am writing to believers because there are times when assurance needs to be renewed, deepened and strengthened.
Often believers prove the Lord for long seasons without doubts, but then they are suddenly assailed by them. Such an assault may follow a great disappointment in life or some tragedy, trial or sorrow, and Satan will take advantage of it.
Perhaps a believer may have a temperamental tendency to sadness and the devil will take advantage of that. It may be there has been a neglect of devotions, cutting back of prayer or just rushing through those essential times before the Lord. The devil will know it and exploit the void of joy and peace, even in the case of seasoned believers.
Sometimes the Lord will clear the way for the devil to assail us if there is undue pride or self—confidence in us. David seems to refer to this in Psalm 30, when he speaks of his mountain standing strong and everything going so well. At that point he was subjected to sore troubles and cried out to the Lord. If we become pleased with ourselves, taking credit for our standing and instrumentality, the Lord may withdraw his arm, leaving us to fend for ourselves.
It is probable that in every congregation there is some dear believer who has the rare problem of almost never being able to feel assurance of salvation. Pastors will usually help such friends on an individual basis. It is not common, but it happens, and used to be referred to as ‘the child of light walking in darkness’. As far as most Christians are concerned, it is our great privilege to know we are saved, and it is a duty to seek that assurance and to embrace the promises of God.
In this review of assurance we will mainly consider the newer Christian, the person who has recently sought (and probably found) the Lord, but who now says to himself or herself, ‘I do not feel I am saved; whatever I have experienced I fear it was a delusion. I sin, and repeat sins, and I am not sure I can see the marks of grace in my life. I do not think I could have been sincere.’ Such doubts go round the mind repeatedly, and Satan seems to seal them in the innermost being.
to be continued