A recent episode of Wretched Radio (12/28/2018) shared an anecdote told by Paul Washer on an evangelist’s encounter with a young man who struggled with assurance.
Imagine a young man who gives sound evidence of conversion but battles with assurance to the point of despair. Even after frequent and prolonged counseling with several pastors, he finds little reason to hope. The slanderer has beaten him down and magnified his sins to such a degree that he can see little evidence of grace.
One day, he pours out his heart to a visiting evangelist. After listening to nearly an hour, the evangelist concludes the young man has received good counsel on the matter but with no progress.
Therefore, he looks him in the eye and says, “Christ and His gospel appear to have done little for you except throw you down into a pit of despair and misery. My recommendation is that you simply forget the whole matter and walk away. Abandon Christ. Throw yourself headlong into sin. At least, by giving full reign into your flesh you’ll have joy for a season. And maybe you’ll become so hardened that you’ll forget about the judgment.”
The young man is shocked at the evangelist’s answer and replies, “I can’t do that!”
“Why not? You have no hope of salvation and your past struggling against sin has brought you no relief. Why shouldn’t you just run from Christ?”
To this the young man cries out, “I cannot run from Christ because salvation is found in Him alone. Though my sin overcomes me a thousand times I shall not run to it because I hate it. I will not turn from God because I fear Him.”
At that moment, the evangelist looks in the young man’s eyes and quotes Jeremiah 32:40, “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from doing them good, but I will put my fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from me.”
At that moment, the young man’s face flushes with astonishment and he declares, “How could I love him unless he first loved me? How can I hate sin unless He renewed my heart? And how could I fear Him unless He has put His fear within me?”
And the young man walks away with great assurance and joy in the Holy Spirit.
If you struggle with assurance, how does the idea of abandoning Christ and running toward sin strike you? God’s children hate the idea of running from Him. If your gut responds the way the young man’s did at the evangelist’s suggestion, that might just be a sign you are a child of God.