Genuine believers can fall into the fleshly trap of self-focus. They can become neutralized by this because that is what this does. On the other hand, walking in repentance, though quite painful at times, is the only way for us to continue in this growth pattern and remain fruitful. In this our assurance will grow in depth and breadth.
1 Simeon Peter, a slave and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received the same kind of faith as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: 2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the full knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 2 Peter 1:1-2 (LSB)
God is good. I struggle at times trying to explain certain doctrines in a way that anyone reading these posts will clearly understand them, but God, being good, really helps me put these posts together and also, I’m convinced helps those who are truly seeking HIs truth to understand what He has helped me post. In this post I hope to cover true Christian assurance, God willing.” He is obviously willing because all I had thrown up to me all day today was how unworthy and sinful I am yet how marvelous His grace is and how awesome it is that I have obtained faith in righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ even though all I deserve is His wrath. When I look at how well I keep the commandments like “Love your neighbor as yourself” I know that I am a selfish, self-centered, prideful, self-loving person who is a total failure at this. I have never kept this commandment by trying to do so. The only time I have ever done so is as I have humbled myself before my Lord as He worked through me as I served in ministry and I found myself loving and serving people in ways that I cannot do no matter how hard I try. On the other hand, as I walk (and drive) through each day with me in control with my focus on me and what I want, that is most certainly not the case.
If my assurance was based on that performance then I would be in a sorry mess. Oh, and I most certainly do find myself before the throne of grace pouring out my heart quite a bit agreeing with God about my sinfulness and His righteousness and my lack thereof. It is through this humbling process that I am in the process of denying myself, denying what my flesh wants, mortifying it so-to-speak, as I give praise and glory to God as I trust that He is in control of all things and then I simply pursue righteousness from a grateful heart and turn from evil as I am led. This is how I take up my cross daily and follow my Lord. This “knowledge” that this is necessary does not come from the flesh or from man, but from God. It certainly didn’t come from me.
Look at the passage I placed at the top of this post. The word “knowledge” translates ἐπιγνώσει the dative, singular form of ἐπίγνωσις (epignōsis), which means “knowledge, understanding.” However, this is a strengthened form of “knowledge” implying a larger, more thorough, and intimate knowledge. Despite what is popularly taught by some so-called “Christian leaders” in our time, the Christian’s precious faith is built on knowing the truth about God. Christianity is not a mystical religion, but is based on objective, historical, revealed, rational truth from God and intended to be understood and believed. The deeper and wider that knowledge of the Lord, the more “grace and peace” are multiplied. Therefore, even though this whole day was a test of my faith, I was able to turn in faith to my Lord in repentance and agreement with Him about my sinfulness completely at peace in the knowledge that all my sins were paid for at the Cross and that these sinful, fleshly struggles of pride and selfishness in me are part of God’s cleansing fires of sanctification to make me ready for eternity.
To get to that place where we can part ways from trying to justify our sinfulness and, instead, agree with God about it in light of His Holiness and Righteousness, and our need of His grace in order to anything good (John 15) we must come to know our salvation. We must know what be believe and why be believe it. We must know what Christ has done for us on our behalf and what our responsibilities are in light of that. A good place to start is 2 Peter 1:3-11.
3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the full knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 2 Peter 1:3-4 (LSB)
This is, of course, a continuation of vv1-2. Do genuine Christians have to try to live the Christian life by will power or by their own strength? No! Christ has given by His divine power everything that pertains to life and godliness through what? Here is that word epignōsis again. Knowledge is a key word throughout 2 Peter. This knowledge is an intimate knowledge that only genuine believers have granted to them by God Himself.