Am I really a Christian?
It has been a bad week. You have lost your temper too many times. Your partner irritates you, the children are a menace and your patience is non-existent. Or you do something you know to be wrong and yet still do it. Maybe it feels like a really big sin. Maybe it is a "big" sin. Perhpas that old addiction has come back and bitten you again and you feel you are fighting a losing battle against sin. In any or all of these circumstances we can look at ourselves and think, "Am I really a Christian? Should I not be better than this by now? And doesn't the Bible tell me that "No one who lives in him [Jesus] keeps on sinning"?" It is the problem of assurance. I know that the Bible makes fantastic promises to those who are truly believing in Jesus Christ, but how do I know that that includes me?
And the answer is to stop looking at yourself and look at Jesus. Are you trusting him for salvation from your sins? Not just the past ones but the ones you sinned today and the ones that you will sin tomorrow? Here is what Jeremiah says of Jesus, he says he will be called, "The Lord is our righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:6 NRSV). And the apostle Paul tells us that there is no one righteous not even one, but that God has provided a way for us to be saved by a righteousness that comes from him as a gift (Romans 3:10, 21-22). Paul says that, "This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe" (Romans 3:22). And what is saving belief? It is to believe that Jesus is Lord, that is that he is God and man, that he is entitled to our worship and praise and to rule over us, and to believe that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9), which is shorthand for believing that Jesus died to take away from me the punishment for my sins and that he was raised from the dead as proof that gods has accepted what he did. And this is not just the way we come to be saved. It is the way that we stay saved. Paul writes a very stern letter to the Galatians who havde started to think that having been saved by Jesus' righteousness, they must now earn their keep by what they do. Paul has none of it. So if you want to know am I a Christian look not to the strength of your belief, or the good deeds or bad deeds that you do or don't do, but look to the one in whom you have believed.
C. H. Spurgeon, commenting on Jeremiah 23:6 says this, "How often are the saints of God downcast and sad! I do not think they ought to be. I do not think they would if they could always see their perfection in Christ." ("Morning and Evening", 31st January). Do you see what the point here is. I do not get saved by my righteousness. I get saved by Jesus' righteousness and I am counted as righteous because of him. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says this, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." Notice that "in him." It is by being joined to Jesus through his Holy Spirit that we get to be righteous. It is, in other words, still his righteousness and not ours. And this is so important for our assurance. All my lack of assurance comes when I spend too much time looking at me. When my sin causes me to stumble, I tend to think that it is sufficient to close the case against me. But my right standing with God is mine because of what Jesus did, not because of what I did or will do. Spurgeon tells me that my corruption, my ongoing sinfulness is, "quite true, but," he says, "why not go a little further, and remember that we are 'perfect in Christ Jesus.' It is no wonder that those who are dwelling upon their own corruption should wear such downcast looks; but surely if we call to mind that 'Christ is made unto us righteousness,' we shall be of good cheer." Spurgeon is referring there to 1 Corinithians 1:30 where it speaks of Jesus becoming for us, "our righteousness, holiness and redemption." In oteher words he does it all. From start to finish it is all of Christ. Robert Murray M'Cheyne, the Scottish revival leader, once said that for every look at ourselves we should take ten at Christ.
I will close with the lyrics of a song by "Point of Grace" :
"There will never be a reason to lose this confidence, for I have found where my assurance lies. It is not in my own power, but in who my Saviour is. And the truth of this conviction makes me shout to the sky."