Fundamental to all true understanding of salvation is the principle of, ‘We love Him, because He first loved us,’ (1 John 4:19). This principle must be kept before us continually, right from the time we are first aware of a desire to be saved. It means that our seekings and desires are a result of God working in us to cause us to seek and desire to be saved. This does not mean that we can lie back and let God ‘get on with it’, and not put any effort into it at all. No one is ever saved without struggle or effort to believe on Christ, and to trust Him for our salvation. The question may trouble them for quite a long time: ‘Have I truly believed sufficiently for salvation’? There is no specific test for true believing on Christ. But, there are ways that we can get an assurance that we are truly saved. What are they?
These are based on the principle that we have already stated, ‘We love Him because He first loved us’. His love for us is proved to us by changes that we find in ourselves. Changes that are so slow and gradual that we are not aware of any moment of change, but perhaps suddenly we realise that we are different. Our inclinations have changed, our affections have changed, our enjoyments have changed, our enjoyment in reading the bible has greatly increased; and so the changes pile up. The explanation of these changes is that God has worked a miracle in us; the miracle of new birth. This happened in an instant known only to God, but soon we are conscious that something has happened, that we are different from what we were. The new birth is a resurrection: we are by nature dead to spiritual experiences or enjoyments because we are fallen creatures. In the new birth we are raised from spiritual death to spiritual life. We are able to know that we have truly believed unto salvation; we are able to love God, and to love His Son, Jesus Christ; we are able to love our brothers and sisters in the Lord; we are able to enjoy quietness and solemnity because these things bring us nearer to God.
Of course, Satan does not like when someone gets RightWithGod, and he will do every thing in his power to discourage you. He will tell you that you are not really all that different from what you were; that you are not good enough to be a christian. The answer is to say to him, as you say to yourself, ‘I am not what I should be, I am not what I want to be, but I know that I am not what I was’, and send him packing! It is worth keeping in mind that the first thing that the bible tells us about Satan (Genesis 3:1) is that he is very cunning. The word in the original language means cunning or crafty. However it is worth also remembering that it can also be turned to mean skillful. We must all beware that Satan is cunning and crafty in the most malevolent way, but that he can also be skillful in an equally malevolent way. We will learn much about his wiles in our christian lives. The more we learn about him and his ways, the better we will be able to deal with him.