One important truth that stops doubt for good
“If you need to give your life to Jesus, you can do that right now...”
It’s the end of a great sermon. Everyone is in their feels. The pastor gives an invitation for people who want to start following Jesus for the first time. As eyes close, thoughts flood through your mind:
I’ve already done this...
But do I know for sure? Why do I feel this way if I am already saved?
Maybe I didn’t do it the right way. I still mess up the same way I used to. I know I need Jesus. Maybe I should just make sure I really have Him...
I’ve had this conversation with myself many times. If you can relate, you know it’s a heavy and exhausting internal conflict.
Responding to an invitation provided temporary relief. But it wasn’t long before I felt the same overwhelming pressure at another sermon. It took several years (and a few extra altar calls) before I broke free from that worry. I finally found peace by understanding the difference between salvation and sanctification.
The Difference Between Salvation and Sanctification
Salvation is a starting point. It is the result of something that has already been completed, and it is solidified the moment it is accepted. Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Jesus, and it happens over time as we follow Him (Romans 6:22 and 2 Peter 1:5-8).
While salvation is a decision, sanctification never ends. Salvation comes from choosing to believe, and sanctification happens as we continue to believe. Both are gifts from God, and neither have to be earned (Philippians 2:13).
We cannot change what Jesus has done for us, and feelings that say otherwise are not from Him. Once we have given our lives to Jesus, we are His. No one can reverse or undo what Jesus has done for us. In John 10:28, Jesus promised, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
The fact that we continue feeling like we need Jesus, even after we’ve asked Him into our lives, is a good thing! The closer we get to Jesus, the more we come to terms with just how hopeless we would be without Him. We all need Jesus just as much today as we did before we decided to follow Him.
Here are a few truths to remember when you ever find yourself, or someone you know, under the weight of an internal conflict about whether they truly are saved:
- Awareness of your need for Jesus is a great thing.
- Feelings do not determine whether or not we are saved.
- You will not be perfect overnight. You are being made perfect as you continue to grow in your relationship with Jesus.
What Sanctification Looks Like
As we pursue a relationship with Jesus, He will draw us closer to Himself and we will find our hearts adopting more of His characteristics in place of our natural instincts. Jesus’ desire for us is to be unified with Him, and we get there through obedience to whatever He is doing in our hearts and minds (Romans 12:13-14).
Sanctification happens as we:
- Listen to Jesus.
- Live life.
- Repent when we sin.
Jesus is constant. His words are sure. His death was real and so was His resurrection. Jesus solidified our status as God’s children — something we could never obtain on our own. The pounding in our chests as salvation prayers are offered up doesn’t have to lead us to doubt. Instead, it can give us peace as we remember that Jesus’ power to save us is still working in us.