The Struggles of the Believer (Part Eight)

1 John 5:13

I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (CSB).

The third support is the witness of the Spirit. The one who keeps his commands remains in him, and he in him. And the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he has given us (1 John 3:24 CSB). This is how we know that we remain in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit (1 John 4:13 CSB). It is clear that the Spirit is the way of knowledge, and that his presence with the believer is convincing testimony that we are sons and daughters of God.

But there is more. We mean the direct testimony of the Holy Spirit to the inner person of the heart. He tells us that we are sons of God. For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children (Romans 8:14-16 NIV). Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:6 NIV) The Spirit himself testifies to the inner person of the believer.

“This is something subjective, something which essentially belongs to the realm of feeling and subjectivity, and the emotions. It is something within us at a deeper level than the level of the intellect… In other words this does not result from certain actions on our part; it is the Spirit that produces it in us. It is not something of which you persuade yourself” (Lloyd-Jones, The Sons of God, p. 235). The Spirit produces a sense or consciousness of assurance, and not merely a belief in a fact.

Think of this illustration to make this clear. “You do not persuade yourself that you are in love; at least, if you do, or have to do, you are not in love!” (Lloyd-Jones) It is something that you just know and feel in your heart.

The person who has the witness of the Spirit is certainly orthodox and God-fearing. The adopted son of God with assurance loses none of his or her reverence for God. In fact, the reverence will increase! But there is an experience of love and delight in the heart that the assured saint alone can sense.

For example, you may listen to a message and say, “That was a nice sermon, good content and illustrations, etc.” You know what we all (preachers included) think and say! But it is far different when the Holy Spirit “catches you” with the truth and lifts you up with the wings of a mighty eagle. Then you know in the inner person of your heart that your soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken (Psalm 62:1-2 NIV). Do you know this? Are you enjoying this facet of blessed assurance?

The existence of his precious fruit in us (Galatians 5:22-23; John 7:37-39). Everyone who follows Christ as Lord and Savior has received the Holy Spirit. If you don’t have the Spirit, you do not belong to Christ (cf. Romans 8:9-13).

At this point, it is common to focus on outward actions of godliness. They are important. But is there are heart for God? In your inner attitudes, do you desire the ways of godliness. Do you long for the fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) that the Spirit produces. One of chief signs of a confident saint with full assurance is joy! This is something that cannot be manufactured by the saint. You may sing about it, but only the Holy Spirit can give it (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Only he can make, as in the words of an old hymn,  “floods of joy o’er my soul, like the sea billows roll”. If you grieve or quench the Spirit, do not be surprised when you feel bitter while others rejoice. This is the joy of being able to say “I have heard and continue to hear his vows of covenant love to me. He tells me that I am part of his family; indeed, that I am one of his adult sons and heirs!” This is one reason for you to understand the new covenant teaching of adoption.

Each of these supports or bases or foundations of assurance is important to a full assurance of faith. It is a serious mistake to think that you can have errors or failings in regard to one or two of the pillars and still make proper spiritual progress. Today is the time to start repairing the foundational supports of your assurance.

But perhaps you have come to read this blog without repentance and faith. God has brought you here to hear his word. Now, respond wisely and turn from your life of rebellion against him and rely on the Lord Jesus Christ alone as your way to be accepted by God and to enjoy eternal life with him forever. God is able to save you today. Call on him while he is near!

Grace and peace, David

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