Why You Cannot Base Your Assurance On Your Feelings

Our minds go through seasons just as the earth does. You’ll find that sometimes it feels like your head is an unrelenting winter landscape and that your every thought is capped with snow. But sooner or later, you will learn that spring eventually arrives for the mind just as it does for the earth. The snow and ice that filled your head will melt, and daisies will grow up in their place. The sunshine will break through.

Back when I started writing poetry (circa my junior year of high school), I never dreamed that I would share an iota of it with the world. But there it is. I wrote that piece my freshman year of college to express a fact that I had learned well – that every so often, there are wintry seasons of the mind during which everything seems cold and dark and frosty, but that sooner or later, when that proverbial spring thaw occurs, your thoughts and feelings will be warm and sunny again.

Fluctuating thoughts and feelings are part and parcel of human life. Even our Christian lives are not free of emotional chaos from time to time. Our minds are finite, our hearts are sinful, and our feelings often swing from one extreme to another like a misguided pendulum. That is why, dear friend in Christ, you cannot base your assurance on your feelings. I’ll be discussing a few specifics below.


In Ephesians 1:11-14, the apostle Paul teaches that as believers, we are God’s chosen ones – predestined according to His plan to put our hope in Christ and be saved by the Gospel of grace. Our salvation is accomplished by His hand and His plan, and if there’s one truth that I find it comforting to meditate on when my assurance feels small, that’d be it. The Father elected me; the Son shed His blood for me; the Spirit marks and seals me (Ephesians 1:13b-14).

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God. Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

PSALM 35:3

Even though assurance belongs to every believer, it can be rocked. The Westminster Confession of Faith acknowledges that in chapter 18, article 4 (you can read it here http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/). There are seasons in which we are so in love with the Lord that we just can’t help but sing His praises at the tops of our lungs. Those seasons are good and sweet and beautiful, but they can be interrupted by seasons in which studying Scripture or even praying feels like a task and a half. Experiencing a season like the latter does not make your Christian life a fraud. When you walk through a dry season, do not let your assurance waver too much.

Even King David experienced doubts and fears and moments of feeling less than ready to shout, “Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You!” (Psalm 63:3). In Psalm 35:3, he wrote, “Say to my soul, ‘I am thy salvation.’” Of this verse, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “This text reminds me that David was not content while he had doubts and fears, but he repaired at once to the mercy seat to pray for assurance, for he valued it as much fine gold. I too must labor after an abiding sense of my acceptance in the Beloved…When my Bridegroom is gone from me, my soul must and will fast. I learn also that David knew where to obtain full assurance. He went to his God in prayer, crying, ‘Say unto my soul, ‘I am thy salvation.’ Nothing short of a divine testimony in the soul will ever content the true Christian. Lord, I have sinned. I deserve not Thy smile. I scarcely dare to ask it, but oh, say to my soul, even to my soul, ‘I am thy salvation.’ Let me have a present, personal, infallible, indisputable sense that I am Thine and Thou art mine.”

Assurance comes from God and He is most pleased to grant it to His people. May we never hesitate to ask Him for that divine sunshine in our souls.


Those He justifies, He also sanctifies. And those He sanctifies, He will surely glorify. Those are sure promises put forth in His Word (Romans 8:30). Trust in them. Praise the One Who has a mighty grip on our souls and isn’t letting go.



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