How can I be confident before God?

Summary

Assurance of salvation is found if you believe in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 3:11-12), that is, if you respect the lordship of Jesus (Romans 10:13; Matthew 8:29) by putting faith in God’s grace instead of your works (Ephesians 2:8-9), trying to obey with good deeds all of His commands (Matthew 7:21-22,23; I John 5:1-2,3), and honestly testing all valid accusations against your opinion of the truth (II Corinthians 13:5; Matthew 5:25) that you haven’t already confessed (I John 1:9). Keep doing this until your heart doesn’t condemn you (I John 3:19-20,21-22), for as it says,

I John 3:18-22–Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;

Endorsements

Billy Graham’s website says “we may be certain that we know Christ as we see within us a desired and willing obedience to God’s Word.”

Reasons

Believe in Jesus.

There is no other way to heaven (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) because Jesus is the only person to never sin (Hebrews 4:15). Because God is perfect, He can’t accuse Jesus of anything and therefore accepts Him (John 8:46-47). If you believe in Jesus, God will accept you (John 3:16). Read more about the Gospel of Salvation.

Trying to be obedient is enough.

Although salvation is not about being good enough (Ephesians 2:8-9), confidence in our salvation comes from being obedient (I John 3:24; I John 5:2-3) because our faith, like any court case, is justified by evidence, not proclamation (Romans 2:13). Only with obedience can our fear and trembling of going to hell turn into confidence (Philippians 2:12). You might question, “How can I be obedient if I can’t stop myself from sinning” (Romans 7:24)? Obedience is not about being perfect before death (James 2:10): obedience is wanting to keep every law (Romans 7:15-20), for those who practice righteousness are perfectly righteous like Jesus (I John 3:7; I John 2:28-29). Hell is for those who deliberately sin (Hebrews 10:26-27; I John 3:8). If you’re unsure if you’re actually sinning or not, be like Paul, who understood logically if his accusers had proof or not (Acts 24:10,13).

Desire for obedience leads to success and an assured heart.

Ultimately, confidence is about that emotional feeling inside that doesn’t condemn you as a sinner (I John 3:21). This feeling is gained using the above section: trying to be obedient (I John 3:18-19). There will be times that your heart will condemn you for not fully being obedient, but know that God is stronger than those condemning feelings and that He will comfort you (I John 3:20) and help you succeed in your works (Philippians 1:6).

This obedience is true love.

Obedience is about living a loving life (I John 5:2), for if you are loving, you are near God (I John 4:16). This nearness or abiding is confidence before God (I John 2:28; I John 4:17).

Examples

Don’t put faith in works.

Here are some common good actions that lead people to think they are saved, when the Bible says they are not enough:

  1. Being Good—Doing more good works than bad is not enough (Ephesians 2:8-9; Matthew 5:20,48).
  2. Understanding the Gospel—Having a mental understanding of the Gospel is not enough (Luke 23:42-43).
  3. Proclaiming Faith/Grace—Saying that you “have faith” or “accept God’s grace” is not enough (James 2:14-17,24).
  4. Church Membership—Being accepted into a church and attending it regularly is not enough (Matthew 23:15).
  5. Personal Praying Relationship—Praying with God is not enough (Matthew 6:5).
  6. Proclaiming a Title—Just saying you are a Christian or Catholic or that Jesus is Lord is not enough (Matthew 7:21).
  7. Proclaiming Love—Saying that you love God and people isn’t enough, because real love isn’t just words (I John 3:18; I John 5:2-3).

Willful disobedience is directly damning.

The following is a list of the most commonly broken commandments, and most are directly damning. Really think about the fact that if you die in willful disobedience to even one of the following commandments, you will go to Hades for a long time (Hebrews 10:26-27):

  1. Compassion: Those who don’t hear the opinions of others are foolish (Proverbs 18:2,13,17) and should be kicked out of the church (Matthew 18:15,16,17).
  2. Lawfulness: God says those who overemphasize their freedoms (I Peter 2:16; II Peter 2:19) cannot be with a lawful God (Matthew 7:21,23).
  3. Reconciliation: God says the person you haven’t reconciled with will sentence you to Hades if he has a valid accusation (Matthew 5:23-24,25).
  4. Greeting All: God says that you aren’t His child (Matthew 5:45) if you don’t love those who hate you (Matthew 5:44,46-47).
  5. Godly Approval: God says that you aren’t His servant if you are trying to please others (Galatians 1:10; Matthew 23:5).
  6. Disciple-making: God said that if you don’t try (Romans 7:16-17) to make disciples (Matthew 28:19), you can’t enter heaven (Matthew 7:21).

Counterclaims

We are eternally secured (Romans 8:38-39).

We agree that God’s elect are eternally secured (Ephesians 4:30; John 3:16; Jude 24), but no one can know if they are elect (I Corinthians 8:2). Saying that you are elect of the Lord is impossible (Matthew 7:21) because our salvation is worked out in fear (Philippians 2:12).

By “faith alone” we are confident.

Confidence is from loving in deed and truth for the sake of obeying His commands (I John 3:18-20,21-22). Real faith is about obedience (James 2:18). See our article on justification.

My church claims confidence comes from “good standing” with them.

See What should Christians consider to be authoritative?

Believing in Jesus is enough (I John 5:12-13).

Real belief is enough, not verbal acknowledgment (Matthew 7:21). The context of this knowledge is one of confidence, not absolute assuredness. For example, the following verses say a person who believes in Jesus will have all of their prayers answered (I John 5:14-15), but implicit in “we” is that only the righteous will be heard by God (I Peter 3:12). Therefore, this confidence in our salvation is conditional on our real belief in Jesus through obedience (Matthew 7:21), not just verbally saying, “I believe in Jesus.” See justification.