What Caused Me To Doubt My Salvation
Knowing what causes doubt can help us avoid lack of assurance.
In a recent article, I wrote about how I doubted my salvation and how later I came to assurance. It was agonizing to wonder if I was truly saved. Now that I no longer doubt my salvation, it is interesting to look back at what caused it. I hope that my experience can help you.
Here are some of the issues that I believe caused me to doubt my salvation:
1. Fatigue and exhaustion.
Either Vince Lombardi or General George Patton said, “Fatigue Makes Cowards of Us All.”
Whoever said it, I agree. When we’re physically exhausted, we become vulnerable to emotional and spiritual weakness. The three simply cannot be separated: if we go down physically, we’re likely to go down emotionally and spiritually.
This is the issue that Elijah faced when he was so discouraged that he asked God to take his life (1 Kings 19:4). After a miraculous spiritual victory and tremendous physical exertion, he was exhausted. He had an emotional collapse.
As a young church planter, I worked many, many hours. Probably too many. In addition, I became emotionally exhausted. That, in turn, led to spiritual exhaustion and doubts.
Someone has said, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing we can do is to take a nap.” Sounds funny, but I believe it’s true. Relieving our physical exhaustion can lift our emotions and spiritual doubts.
2. Disappointment with fellow believers.
I don’t like to say this, and I’m not trying to blame others. But sometimes I’ve found that a lack of godliness and downright ungodliness by those who claim to be Christians is spiritually depressing.
As the leader of a church plant, I hoped to see people’s lives transformed by the Gospel. But sometimes there seemed to be virtually no transformation. In fact, Christians said and did hurtful and ungodly things.
“Maybe the problem is me,” I thought. “Maybe God’s not with me.”
Am I over-exaggerating bad behavior or judgmental? Perhaps. But this is honestly how I felt and the problem was real.
Nowadays I’ve come to realize several things that help:
I accept that the process of growing in Christ takes a long time and won’t be completed until heaven.
I think I’ve grown in grace and forgiveness toward those who do hurtful things.
I’ve come to look more at the purity of Christ than the impurity of His followers.
I understand that Jesus said there would be false believers and fakes who are in fact pretending and not truly saved. (Matthew 7:15)
I’ve seen the power of Christ in many, many people and realized that while He “is able to do exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine,” (Ephesians 3:20)
His work is dependent on our cooperation.
A few years ago, my world was rocked by the behavior of a Christian I know well. But I’ve grown to where my response was more disappointment with that person than disappointment with Jesus.
3. My emotional insecurities.
A third issue that caused me to doubt my salvation is my own lack of emotional security.
This is hard to admit, although over the years I’ve found out that even the greatest of leaders are often insecure. I used to feel like an oddball—now I think that a lack of emotional security is part of the human condition.
In Jr. High, I thought I was totally unattractive. Since then I’ve found out that is what most every adolescent thinks. Then one day a female friend named Vicky told me she thought I was cute or something like that.
I was truly surprised. That flew in the face of my self-perception. But I thought, “Well, if she thinks so, then just maybe it’s true!” She greatly boosted my self-perception.
Since then, I’ve realized that my self-perception might tell me that I am totally unattractive to God, but He says something quite to the contrary. His Word says:
He chose me before the foundation of the earth (Ephesians 1:4)
He has lavished his love on me (1 John 3:1)
So now, if I start to think that I am unlovely and rejected by God, I just remind myself of what He has said.
4. My parents weren’t the nurturing type.
I think I had wonderful parents. I’m deeply grateful for their love, their examples of Christian living, their values and so on.
That said, I think it’s fair to say that their parenting style was not very emotionally reassuring. Maybe nurturing wasn’t most people’s parenting style back then. And maybe their “love language” was just different from mine.
At any rate, I wondered sometimes if my parents truly loved me. And I’ve realized that it’s easy for that kind of doubt to transfer to doubts about our Heavenly Father. In other words, doubts about my parents’ love caused me to doubt my salvation.
What helped me overcome this is my realization that while my parents love was flawed, (like every parent’s) my Heavenly Father’s love is perfect.
Parents are human: our heavenly Father is divine.Parents make mistakes: our Heavenly Father makes no mistakes.
Jesus promised in John 10:27-29:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (ESV)
I don’t doubt my salvation any longer. Understanding these four causes has helped. I hope this helps you.
Your thoughts are welcome! You can leave a comment below.
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Podcast: Have I committed the unpardonable sin?