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Being sure of what we believe
- Jacob Ninan
Don't we accept the fact that God forgives us when we confess our sins (1Jn.1:9)? Of course we do. But why is it that sometimes we continue to feel guilty even after we have confessed? We believe Jesus said He would be with us till the end of the age, He would never leave or forsake us (Mt.28:20;He.13:5)? But then don't we sometimes think He is nowhere near?
A simple explanation is that we may never have actually believed in our heart what we hold in our head. In other words, ours may be just an intellectual recognition of facts and figures which doesn't work when it is tested because it has not gone deep into our heart from our head.
But another possible explanation is that when the time of testing comes, or when adversity strikes us, our feelings are strongly moved, and then we let ourselves be guided by our feelings rather than by our convictions. In other words, when the rational part of our being points out what we believe as being true we allow the emotional part of our being to overrule our conviction. For example, our conviction tells us that if God has promised that He would forgive our sins once we confess them, He has certainly forgiven us because we have confessed our sins. But our guilt feeling which lingers on after our act of confession seems to tell us that perhaps we haven't been really forgiven. What we need to do is to insist that God has actually forgiven because He has promised He would do it, and ignore our feeling which is certainly not in line with the facts.
The devil plays with our feelings in very devious ways. When he went to Eve his first step was to plant a doubt about God's words in her mind. "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" (Ge.3:1). Then he followed it up with a daring, "You surely will not die!" (v.4). If only Eve had straightaway refused it by saying, "No, God said we would die if we ate this fruit, and I don't believe you," things would have ended very differently.
How many of our battles are lost when we don't hold on to our convictions at the time of testing by allowing our feelings to move us away from God! What we need to do is to strengthen our convictions in our mind by meditating on them before the temptation comes. The more we think about God's promises and warnings, the deeper they get into our mind, and our convictions become stronger. Then we will find that when the temptation comes our conviction is stronger than the temptation or the feelings that the temptation stirs up. "Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You" (Ps.119:11).