Although the present writer should avoid the temptation to discuss sanctification too fully, as he resisted the temptation to expatiate on the Trinity, nevertheless a little more description of the Spirit’s work in all Christians needs to be added. If sanctification is a necessary element in salvation, it is hard to see why some Christians feel no need to understand it better. No doubt the real reason is that they are not presently sanctified enough.Some Scriptural statements on sanctification are deeply disturbing to serious souls. Romans 8:9 says, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” What is worse, 1 John 2:29, 1 John 3:9, and 1 John 5:18 seem to say that if I commit one single sin, I have not been regenerated. Not only “everyone that does righteousness is born of him,” but “Whoever is born of God does not sin.” These are terrible verses. They jolt any conscientious Christian.* The New American Standard softens 3:9 a bit, but only a little bit. So also the New International Version. Even the the Revised Standard Version is better, or should we say worse? [1 John 3:9 NASB; 1 John 3:9 NIV; 1 John 3:9 RSV].This freedom from sin is the evidence to support an assurance of salvation. And since John seems to have desired to assure his readers, it seems strange that he wrote so severely. The problem here is not how I can know you are saved, but how can I know I am saved. Presbyterians do not admit people to communicant membership on the ground of their regeneration, but on the basis of a credible profession. Obviously sessions often admit persons to membership who later seem to have no spiritual life whatever. But if a single sin certifies one’s unregenerate condition, no one could be a communicant. There would not even be a session to decide.In this dismal situation Paul offers us a ray of hope, for he acknowledged that he had not attained sinless perfection. Even in his apostolic years he committed some sin. And if that means he was not a saved man, nobody is. To the brief mention of Romans 7 a paragraph or two ago, a bit more can be added. As in Galatians 5:17, “the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh . . . so that you [regenerated Christians] cannot do the things that you would,” so also in Romans 7. The Arminians generally want to assign the whole chapter to Paul’s pharisaical years, after which, they say, we get to the freedom of the Gospel in Romans 8. This incorrect interpretation is partly due to the stupid, unmethodical divisions into verses. If a chapter heading had not been made after 7:25 [Romans 7:25], the THEREFORE of 8:1 [Romans 8:1] might have been more easily recognized. Chapter 8 is a conclusion drawn from the material in chapter 7. Note that verses 4, 5, and 6 picture a regenerate state. [Romans 8:4, 5, 6]. Verses 8, 9, 10, and 11 refer to Paul’s life as a Pharisee, and maybe on to verse 15. [Romans 8:8, 9, 10, 11; Romans 8:11-15]. But there comes a gradual change in the scenery. By the time verse 17 comes into view, we see Paul as a Christian. There is therefore a struggle. Who shall deliver him from his sinful inclinations? God will, through Jesus Christ. THEREFORE there is NOW no condemnation. Hence in spite of John’s disturbing words, Paul gives us a bit of confidence.Dr. Gordon H. Clark. The Holy Spirit. (Jefferson: The Trinity Foundation, 1993). Pp. 48-49.
18 "Known to God from eternity are all His works. 19 "Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 20 "but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. (Act 15:18-20 NKJ)
Having assurance of one’s salvation is not the same as knowing that one is saved. I am not really sure why this is difficult for some people to grasp, but even some calling themselves “Scripturalists” have a hard time telling the difference.
So for those still confused, assurance of salvation means to be free from doubt. It is to possess a confidence derived from the promises of God and the finished work of Christ outside of ourselves revealed in the Gospel. (Ibid.).
Heidelberg Catechism: Day 1
Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?Answer: That I with 1body and soul, both in life and death, 2am not my own, but belong 3unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ; who, with His precious 4blood, hath fully 5satisfied for all my sins, and delivered 6me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me 7that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair 8can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be 9subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me 10of eternal life, and makes 11me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.Question 2. How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happily?Answer: Three; 12the first, how great 13my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered 14from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude 15to God for such deliverance.1 1 Cor. 6:19-202 Rom. 14:7-93 1 Cor. 3:234 1 Pet. 1:18-195 John 1:76 1 John 3:8; Heb. 2:14-157 John 6:39; John 10:28-298 Luke 21:18; Matt. 10:309 Rom. 8:2810 2 Cor. 1:22; 2 Cor. 5:511 Rom. 8:14; Rom. 7:2212 Luke 24:4713 1 Cor. 6:10-11; John 9:41; Rom. 3:10, 1914 John 17:315 Eph. 5:8-10;