Since we are creatures who work to produce results, we find it difficult at times to completely rest in faith that God loves us and that our salvation is secure. We know we’ve done nothing to earn His love or the gift of redemption, and yet the thought that if we could just reach more people for the kingdom or tame our tongue more often would give God a reason to love us more. It’s tempting to take our eyes off Jesus and to rather begin focusing on ourselves and our works – or lack of them. It’s easy to bounce back and forth between “he loves me; he loves me not”, and before long, we’re questioning whether our salvation is secure.
Reading God’s Word daily strengthens our faith and keeps our focus on where it ought to be – Jesus Christ. When we seek extra-biblical teachings and follow the teachings of men, we may quickly become confused and be carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, and by craftiness in deceitful schemes (Ephesians 4:14). I see this confusion in two particular areas: sinning and suffering.
He Loves Me Not When I Sin
Contrary to Scripture that says we are born sinners (Psalm 51:5), and that we are slaves to sin (Romans 7:14), there exists the deception of sinless perfection. This lie – promoted by Pentecostals and many Assemblies of God churches – suggests that some Christians are able to achieve moral perfection in this life. Additionally, Word of Faith teachers like Joyce Meyer teach that Christians are not sinners (as heard in this recording). This is very troubling, since Scripture says, “If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). These teachings exalt man and blind us to our true wretchedness. It is self-righteousness and leads us away from what God commands us to do such as confess our sins daily.
By denying we are sinners, we rob God of His glory. By buying into sinless perfection, we also neglect to mortify our sins. Puritan John Owen says, “Not to be daily mortifying sin, is to sin against the goodness, kindness, wisdom, grace, and love of God, who hath furnished us with a principle of doing it.”
Paul calls himself the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), and Peter, James, John, and Paul all admitted that they were imperfect. We can identify with Paul’s words when he says, “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). This is the battle we fight – not the battle for moral perfection. Oh, the anguish and confusion this lie from hell must lead to – we fail every day, and if we cannot control our sin, then we think, “Surely, He loves me not, and oh, I wonder if I’m saved at all?”
He Loves Me Despite My Sin
Thankfully, being morally perfect is not a requisite for eternal life. Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit and God, who began a good work in us, and who will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). Yes, we are to not to give in to temptation, and our battle is a spiritual one, but it is God who produces the good works and spiritual fruit in our lives.
We look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), and we have reconciliatory peace with God through the blood of the cross (Colossians 1:19-20). We can be sure of our salvation because nothing can or will separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39), being sealed with the promise of the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14).
He Loves Me Not When I Am Suffering
Widespread is the lie that if you are a Christian you will produce miracles, perform signs and wonders, speak in tongues, perform healings, and receive direct revelations from God. Furthermore, you will have the authority to cast out Satan (and demons), seek a second blessing, and expect (or demand!) that God supply you with financial prosperity. The Word of Faith movement deceitfully uses the word “faith” to mean the “force of faith”, meaning that we, as “little gods” can manipulate God to manifest our desires.
Of course, we are not “little gods”, and we cannot manifest our destiny. God loves me not appears when we’ve sown our financial seed, and there’s nothing left for the mortgage or when our suffering subsequently increases. These teachings are heresies and very dangerous and teach a different gospel and another Christ (2 Corinthians 11:4). First, we must examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5), and then we should not allow our temporal circumstances to dictate our belief in what God says about His love and our eternal security.
He Loves Me In My Suffering
Being a Christian is synonymous with some kind of suffering. Paul suffered more than most and yet he said, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him” (Philippians 1:2). As I previously mentioned, there are many benefits to suffering:
- Suffering reveals the power of Christ (2 Corinthians 12:10)
- Suffering produces endurance, character, hope (Romans 5:3-5) and steadfastness (James 1:2-4)
- Suffering prepares us for eternal glory (2 Corinthians 4:17)
- Suffering tests the genuineness of faith (1 Peter 1:6-7)
- Suffering allows us to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
Surely, these benefits reveal a loving God who has our heavenly home in mind. We may not know the reasons for our sufferings, but we can rest, knowing that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
We Love Because He First Loved Us
We can rest in God’s love because He loved us first (1 John 4:19), and He drew us to Him (John 6:44). Even our love for God did not occur from our own effort because He first loved us! And how do we love Him? By obeying Him (John 14:15). We persevere to run the race God has set before us – we do not chase after a sinless perfection that we can never achieve, or seek to alleviate our suffering through false doctrine. Our faith is not in ourselves, but in Christ crucified (Galatians 2:20). We will always struggle with sin; however, we will be regenerated (Ephesians 2:5), presented complete in Christ (Colossians 1:28), and will dwell with the Lord for all eternity.
Soli Deo Gloria