Have you ever heard anyone ever say those words? “I don’t feel saved.” Or a variation of that, such as, “I don’t feel like a Christian.”
These are words that true Christians will utter from time-to-time because they truly do not feel like a Christian, or feel saved, at least, not what people expect to feel when they are believers. I know there have been times in my own Christian walk where I have felt these things. The weight of sin in my heart, life, church, and the country are such that the joy of Christ seems to be extinguished.
So, lacking a sense of “feeling” like a Christian is quite normal.
In fact, if our salvation is built upon feelings at all, we are probably not saved in the least, because that would mean that our salvation is built upon our flesh and our actions, not by faith.
This doesn’t mean that the true believer doesn’t have feelings, or experience a range of emotions. We should, as believers, experience joy, thankfulness, and yes, even remorse and sadness in the context of our salvation. There are times when the weight of sin should crush us because the reality of sin still exists within us, even though we are saved, born-again, and made into new creations as Christ’s children.
That our sin does weigh heavy on our hearts is an indication that we are believers. When Jesus gave us the Beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount, He declared to us “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Some have misunderstood this verse to mean poor in a material way. But this is not the thrust of the verse. Poor in spirit means to be downcast and broken over sin. As one commentator wrote, the poor here are those who have become convinced of their own spiritual poverty.
We will feel the weight of sin because the Spirit of God is working in us. We wrongly think that the more mature we grow in Christ, the less sin will affect us. But it is just the opposite. The more we walk with Christ, the more we feel the reality of remaining sin in us.
This does not mean that the outward manifestation of sin is more abundant. In fact, we should see a decrease of the outward manifestation of sin in our lives as we grow in Christ. However, the fleshly war with the spirit will continue in us until the LORD calls us home to glory.
Our feelings are useful to us in this battle. If we use then wisely, our feelings of sinfulness will drive us back to the cross daily. This is good for us. We need to continue to live in a state of repentance and faith before the LORD. This is how sanctification takes place in our lives. The constant reminder of sin brings us back to the cross daily.
However, we must not let our feelings dictate our beliefs. Our faith is rooted in facts in history, not in the emotions of our hearts. Christ died on the cross to pay the debt of sin, and to redeem a people to Himself. When He calls us to believe, opening our hearts to this truth, we have been made new creations. We are now born again. This event of salvation was not something that we brought about in our own lives, but by the power of the Spirit and the word working in us. In other words, our salvation was by grace alone, in Christ alone, leading to our immediate justification.
This is the source of much joy and contentment when we first come to know Christ because we stand before God in full acceptance because of the righteousness of Christ. Our acceptance isn’t based on anything we did, or didn’t do, but is, again, by God’s grace alone.
Therefore, since all these things are true, then what place do our feelings have in our salvation? Our feelings are merely a by-product of our faith, not the author of our faith, nor the test for faith. As Jesus said, “blessed are the poor in spirit…”This is the mark of true belief. Jesus is not saying this is something we manifest in ourselves so that we can be true believers, but the marks found in the Beatitudes are qualities that the Christian has because of the nature of being born again. This is why He gives the beatitudes in the indicative, not the imperative. The Beatitudes are simple statements of fact.
Therefore, if you are a believer, then you will be poor in spirit, you will know the condition of your own heart, you will feel the weight of your sin.
Given all that, and the reality that indwelling sin remains, there will be days where we feel like we are not Christians at all. There may be times when we sin so much that we ask the question. But the answer to the question always has to be the same: we are to come back to the atoning work and sacrifice of Christ. Just as enabled us to come to Him to begin our salvation, so too does He enable us to come back to Him again and again. After all, He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.