“ . . . I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)
The only reason David had this certainty of being with the Lord forever was because of God’s goodness and mercy. Like the rest of us, he did not deserve or earn eternal life. He was a good king, but he was also an adulterer and a murderer. His salvation and assurance of eternal life was not based on what he did or didn’t do but on what Christ would do for him and for all who put their faith in the promises of God.
When grace and faith happen, God changes lives. He puts His Spirit in those who believe, and because of that new life, we begin again. There is a battle with the old life (called the flesh), but the new life is more powerful. It grows up through the deadness of the old, asking for our cooperation but not depending on anything in us for its growth and power.
God gave me new life that I might live by it. However, I cannot forget that I am both 100% saint and 100% sinner. That is why the Bible says, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:13–17)
Some interpret this to mean that their obedience becomes their salvation. Yes, Christ died for them, but if they don’t life for Christ, then they will lose their eternal life out of neglect. But this is not what Jesus says . . .
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:37–40)
Because my confidence is in God and not in what I do, that confidence changes what I do. It helps me relax, listen to Him, and follow His direction. This does not negate the battle nor lessen the 100% sinner, but I know that I am forgiven. I want to encourage those whose battle distracts them from the promises of God and throws them into a mode where they begin basing their salvation on their performance. This will never produce assurance.
Instead, Christians need to keep our eyes on Jesus Christ. It is He who saved us and not we ourselves. “Therefore, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:19–25)
That old nature has no confidence at all, and for good reason — we cannot save ourselves. The new me, born into the family of God by the power of the living Christ, is filled with confidence. Even when I fail to live by it, that same power that gave it to me keeps tugging me back, to turn from sin and self and live for Him.