Lesson 9 Addressing Salvation Insecurity
Scenario: A parishioner meets with you. He is not sure that he is saved. He keeps committing the same sin. How could a Christian keep sinning? Or he has committed a sin he thought he never would. How could he have fallen so low? How do you respond?
Lead him into a full confession. The typical pattern of first-time confession is to reveal only the tip of the sin. For men, the common sin of confession is of sexual sin.
“I have looked at pornography.”
“How much have you looked? What kind? For how long?”
You are not after gory details but you do want to draw him out. Otherwise, later on he will continue to be weighed with guilt and doubt because he knows he did not tell you everything, and he doesn’t know what you would think if he had. Confession is good for his own soul.
How do you draw him out? Understand that he is getting his cues from you. If he has come to you about sin, he wants to confess. But what will hold him back or encourage him on are the signals you send him. If you express shock, then he knows to hold back. You signal to him that you cannot handle what he has to say. It is fine to express grief over sin as long as you are expressing that you are not repulsed by the sinner. You need to be calm; you need to convey a measure of empathy, not that you condone the sin but that you are not surprised by sin.
How do you convey signals? Your face is the primary signaler.
Hear his story. Ask to hear his testimony. Ask questions as he goes along.
1. Gaining valuable information. You may find clues that help explain why he commits his particular sin or why he has the doubts that he does. Pick up on brief statements. He comments, “I’ve had problems with depression before.” Check that out. When? What happened? Was he given medication? Is he on medication now?
You are listening for him to give you the answer he is looking for. A common question I will ask after listening to a person’s troubles is, Why do you still believe? Given all the troubles, and given your sin, why do you still have hope?
2. Helping him to listen to himself.
Take him through theology and Scripture
1. Sometimes the problem is lack of theological understanding. Christians often operate under the idea that Christ did the work to save them, but now they must do the work to maintain that salvation or to demonstrate they are worthy.
Need a correct understanding of sin and of grace.
My angle is to challenge what they are really saying: either that they are to difficult for God to handle or that God is indebted to them.
Hebrews 9:26 – once and for all
Philippians 1:6 – he will complete
1 John 1:8-10 – if claim no sin
2. Sometimes they are so shaken by their sin they cannot believe God could still love them.
3. Some simply struggle with a weak faith.
1 John 5:1-3 – 3-fold test
Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-16
Ultimately moving the person away from trusting in his feelings to trusting in the objective teachings and promises of Scripture.
Turning away from trusting in self to trusting in Christ.
May indeed not have been a true believer and this is the time to lead in trusting in Christ.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By D. Marion Clark. © 2023 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org