We have a tendency to assess the security of our faith by the depth of our feelings. If we feel very deeply, surely our faith is secure, or so we reason. But feelings are fickle, and the security of our faith rests not in our emotional state but in our sure Savior.
John Stott (2012) walks us through this thinking. First, the danger:
“Yet the way to be sure [about our relationship to God] is not just to feel sure. Many people who are at the beginning of their Christian life make this mistake. They rely too much on their superficial feelings. One day they feel close to God; the next day they feel alienated from him again. And since they think that their feelings are an accurate reflection of their spiritual condition, they fall into a frenzy of uncertainty. Their Christian life becomes a precarious roller coaster as they soar to the heights of ecstasy, only to plunge again into the depths of depression.
“Such an up and down experience is not what God intends for his children. We have to learn to be wary of our feelings. They are extremely variable. They change with the weather, with circumstances and with our health. We are unpredictable creatures of whim and mood, and our fluctuating feelings often have nothing to do with our spiritual progress.” (p. 174)
Stott notes the exhausting and inaccurate nature of this approach. He then proposes the solution:
“The basis of how we know that we are in relationship with God is not how we feel but the fact that he says we are. The test we are to apply to ourselves is objective rather than subjective. We are not to ferret around insides ourselves for evidence of spiritual life but to look up and out and away to God and his word.” (Stott, 2012, p. 175)
In other words, what saves and secures us is not the depth of our feelings or the perfection of our belief but the object of our faith, God himself and His word about us. The feeling of it all will come and go, but our hope is secure because our hope is not in us but in Christ.
Stott, J. (2012). Basic Christianity. IVP Books.