HAVE YOU BEEN SAVED OR DECEIVED?
Large numbers of people sincerely believe they have been saved, but they are deceived. The Lord tells us that many will come in the last day saying to Him, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name have cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works?" There will be false prophets, and preachers, and church workers, and many other professing Christians, who actually believed they were saved and doing God's work, who will hear the Lord say unto them, "I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity." So, my friend, you can be deceived about this matter of your salvation.
You may say, I know I am saved because I feel like I am. You can be mistaken in feeling. Only when feeling is in line with God's Word is it the right feeling. Satan can give you a feeling which may satisfy your understanding, but still it would be fake. "But," you say, "I believe I am saved." Well you may be, but you can be mistaken in your belief, too. Only when faith is in line with God's Word is it right. It must BE right, not just seem to be right.
Satan is the great Deceiver. He is out to give you faith and experience which seem to be exactly those which God gives, but which are actually false. Counterfeit is his method. Satan has many preachers, who themselves are deceived, and who sincerely believe they are preaching the truth of God. They mean well, but they have not followed closely the Word of God. Thus they may, in their preaching, deceive many. You may be one of those who have conscientiously followed what you heard, and felt something which you took to be the true salvation, but you may be deceived. The following study is to help you see the truth.
First, Satan Deceives In ConvictionHe gets preachers to preach on sins instead of sin. They preach about your conduct instead of your condition. They emphasize the sores on the body instead of the disease within. They preach about what you do instead of what you are. They preach about your sins of lying, stealing, cheating, cursing, drunkenness, sinful habits, adultery, wife-beating, breaking the Sabbath, and other like sins. By emphasizing these, all of which are wrong, they make the sinner feel condemned and bad, because of what he has done. This brings morbid regret to the sinner, a feeling which he thinks is conviction. He is embarrassed before his sins; but he is not embarrassed before God.
Holy Spirit conviction makes a man look, not so much upon his sins outwardly, but upon himself inwardly. He sees himself as a sinner against God; a Christ-rejecting, hell-bent rebel against God's will. This comes from preaching on what a man is rather than what he does. Holy Spirit preaching emphasizes the disease rather than the sores. This brings to the sinner a feeling that he is LOST. "Undone" is the word we used to use in describing this feeling. Yes, we knew we had done wrong, but more than that, we knew we were hopelessly doomed because we were afflicted with the disease of sin, and that there was no remedy except Christ. THIS IS HOLY SPIRIT CONVICTION.
The conviction of depression because of our sins, which Satan gives, is a conviction of the "flesh" (fleshly mind); but the conviction which the Holy Spirit gives is of the Spirit, and is based on the truth of what we are rather than on what we have done.
Second, Satan Deceives In RepentanceRemember, Satan would keep your mind on your sins instead of on Christ. So, he has the preacher bring before you a list of your sins, thereby producing a feeling of morbid sadness in you, and causing a feeling of embarrassment before your awful record. Under the spell of great "religious" fervor (and Satan is a master in producing this exciting fervor which outwardly resembles Pentecost, but which is really of the "flesh") you axe driven by this depression to do something about your sins. Now, what can you do about your sins? The only thing YOU can do is to be sorry for them. And Satan says, "That's it; be sorry for them." But being "sorry" for sin is not repentance. That is all the flesh can do, but that is not repentance. Repentance is changing your attitude toward God, and agreeing that He is right in condemning you to hell because of what you are, not just what you have done. Repentance is taking a sinner's place under the sentence of death, and submitting your case to the mercy of God. Being sorry for sin won't remove it. Only what Christ has done can do that.
But Satan says, "Now go on down to the mourner's bench, and pray and cry and mourn, and let God know how sorry you are for what you have done, and when you have done enough to make God believe that you are really sorry for your sins, you will feel better." So goes the deceived sinner to the place of mourning for his sins instead of to the Cross for salvation. Finally, when he has cried and prayed and let out his depressed feelings, emotional relief comes. Like a woman who cries out her burden and then feels relieved, the depressed and embarrassed sinner does all the flesh can do in being "sorry" for sins, and seeks that emotional release which he mistakes for forgiveness.
Third, In The Experience Of SalvationBy the wrong kind of preaching the sinner is led to believe that when "he feels better" he has been saved. He goes entirely on feeling and Satan goes with him. By encouragement from those who ask, "Now don't you feel better?" and who admonish him to "trust the Lord and claim the blessing," he feels at last that he has "prayed through" and arises to proclaim, "I feel better! I've got the blessing!" And Satan whispers, "That is salvation. That is what the others got. Now you have it, and you are saved." Under the spell of fleshly religious fervor, it is easy to do, once the sinner has gore through what we have described. And, he is sincere, but may be deceived.
The Holy Spirit, through the right kind of gospel preaching, would direct the sinner not to try to do anything about his sins. He would tell the sinner to look to Christ who has already dare all that can be done, or that is necessary, about his sins. He would tell the sinner to take his place before God as a sinner, submitting to God's judgment of him (which is repentance), and then look to Christ as the one who has satisfied the Father about his sin, and who, by His death, has redeemed him. Then the sinner can say: "Because I have taken a sinner's place and have looked to Christ to save me, on the authority of God's Word I can declare I am saved. I know it is true because God says so, and I feel it because I believe His Word." This is the true salvation; none other is.
Fourth, In Living A Christian LifeThe man who is "saved" by feeling, or "getting the blessing" is dependent on that feeling to keep saved. He is saved as long as he feels like it, according to him. But faith has to walk many a mile without feeling. So, the days of depression come, and he loses a sense of that presence which he thought he felt. He is trusting his feeling, and his feeling has gone. He no longer has that assurance, the temptations of the former life come back to him, and he has no one to sustain him, he falls into sin, and is embarrassed again. At least he concludes he has "fallen from grace," and either goes on in sin again, or seeks to be saved again.
But the man who has been really saved, through genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, stands on the solid rock of God's Word. That Word declares that we are justified by faith, not by feeling, and that "though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand." (Ps. 37:24). He knows that sin is not charged against him any more (Rom. 4:8), and that when he sins he has an Advocate with the Father, even Jesus Christ the righteous. (I John 2:1-2). He finds relief in hearing John say, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (I John 19). Thus he concludes with Paul in Romans 6:14: "For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under law, but under grace."
With a salvation that depends on Jesus rather than on our feeling, we can "go on unto perfection (maturity)" with the blessings of God upon us, singing,
"On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand."
If you are in doubt about your salvation, dear friend, study this tract and seek saving faith through the Word and the Spirit, not through feeling. And when you have found that you are free because the truth has made you free, then you will have that feeling which the true salvation alone can bring.
[From a tract. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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