5 June 2020
The Holy Spirit does not just bring about the new birth and then leave us to ourselves; He stays with us, dwells in us and enables us to live life in the Spirit. The chief distinguishing mark of the people of God today is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit so much so that the emphasis of the christian life is heart religion. Of course there is a place for externals in religion but throughout the history of the church, there is a tendency for religion to degenerate into an empty external show (Mark 7:6; 2 Tim. 3:5). Too much of christianity is ritual without reality, the mouth without the heart.
One of the main ministries of the Holy Spirit is to give God’s people an assurance of their saving relationship to Him. Christian assurance rests first and foremost on the cross; it is because Christ bore our sins in our place, and because his sin-bearing was finished and complete, that we may know that we have been forgiven. To this objective ground of our assurance the Holy Spirit adds His own subjective testimony (Romans 5:5, 8:15-16). The Spirit assures us deeply in our hearts that God is our Father and that He loves us.
However, for many believers, they struggle with doubts of their assurance of their saving relationships with God. These doubts may arise because of the faulty view of God, our unruly emotions, our hidden conflicts and various other personal reasons.
It may be helpful to realise that the basic issue of faith in God rests on the question of credibility. Is what I believe true? Is the person I trust trustworthy? Is there compelling evidence or not? Subjective elements like emotions may play their part in the decision to believe but objective considerations must finally determine whether faith is true or misplaced. Understanding and choice are both essential to genuine belief, and they are always more important than the emotions and other subjective elements. A living faith is a relationship, and, like any relationship, it must be cherished, nurtured, fostered and prized for itself. Faith must not only be learned but kept in practice and developed. Nothing is more pathetic than the sight of a Christian in his old age trying to get by on the faith he had many years ago. Faith must go on being exercised; the just shall live by faith, as taught by Scriptures. Faith must mean everything today or in some tomorrow it may mean nothing. God’s truth and God’s love will always be fresh, but will the same be said of our response?
We need to remember that we have a formidable enemy and one of his specialties is to sow doubt. He can use circumstances, people, your past experiences and hurts, and other outstanding troubling issues to cast ‘darts’ of doubt in your direction. Our response should be to raise the ‘shield of faith’.