(an excerpt from my new book--abridged version)
There is a time to rely on feelings and a time to ignore them. Someone said, I know there are times when I'm not saved because I don't feel saved. Pooh! John wrote the believers so that we could be assured of our salvation. There are several things that give us that assurance.
1 John 4 beginning at verse 13.
1. We don't just talk the walk but we walk the walk. We show love and compassion to our brothers and sisters. We act like a family.
2. We put action to compassion. We help those we see in need. Like James says we don't just pat them on the shoulder and say, "I'll be praying for you. Be warm." We give them a coat to stay warm.
3. We don't condemn ourselves. Here's the feeling part. God is greater than we are, He knows everything in our hearts. How amazing that we are forgiven before we sin. If we confess our sin then God is faithful to forgive us, putting our sin as far away from us as the east is from the west. Astounding!
4. We then have a clear conscience. Not only that, but we are blameless. Imagine it! Blameless in the eyes of God.
5. God answers our prayers. Sometimes He answers immediately. Sometimes He says, 'Wait'. Sometimes He says, "You are not ready for that, yet." The condition is praying for things that are within Jesus' character and within God's principles. Like praying for someone to get saved... or for the wisdom of our leaders. We must always rememer that God's ways and thoughts are much higher than our own. He sees all the consequences of every action and if just one thing is out of kilter, that could hinder someone's walk with Jesus. It would be better for that person to have a millstone around his neck and be tossed into the sea. That's how strongly Jesus felt about a stumbling block.
6. We obey God. We keep His commandments and we don't "fudge a little" here and there. It is part of our having a clear conscience. Walking with God doesn't allow for fudging.
7. We want to please God. It isn't a matter of "trying to be good." It isn't a matter of being fearful of what might happen. It is a definite, deep and deliberate desire to please our Heavenly Father. That stems from loving Him.
8. We believe Him. We not only believe in Jesus, but we believe what He says in His word. How can we trust unless we believe? Believing we believe.
9. Abiding we abide in Him. All that happens because He first abided in us. The Holy Spirit ignited our souls into life, Spiritual life and the combination of the Holy Spirit with our soul made a brand new creature. That is so exciting. We are not at all "just human". We are something quite different, and precious in God's sight. Sacrifice. That word that means the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim. God gave His Son. Jesus willingly laid down His life in sacrifice for us. God says it and that is enough. Believing or not believing does not make it so or not so. God did it. That settles it. This is how we know beyond any doubt, beyond any question that we are saved. These things are outward indications of the inward change that the Holy Spirit caused to happen. Amen and Glory be to God.