What A Christian Can Know for Sure

By Paul Hayden

If I say that I know for sure that my sins have been forgiven and that I’m going to be in eternal glory with Christ rather than being punished for any of my sins past, present or future, then to most people, that would sound very arrogant. To say that we can know for sure anything about God or about spiritual things is usually thought of as the attitude of somebody who fancies themselves too highly and doesn’t really know anything. How dare I be so confident about my eternal destiny. Who do I think I am?

But it’s true. I know for sure my sins have been forgiven. And everybody reading this can know for sure their sins are forgiven too, if only they repent and turn to Christ for their salvation, rather than trusting in themselves. Pray to Him, and He will answer:

John 6:37

....him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

 Matthew 7:7-8

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

 Jeremiah 29:13

And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

 The reason why most people think this attitude is arrogance, is because they convince themselves that their standing with God must surely depend on what they do here on this earth, and we can never know that fully until the end of our lives. Funny that, isn’t it? They’re so sure that’s true, without any evidence at all. I’m just as sure they’re totally wrong, but I have solid evidence - the Bible. 

Romans 3:20

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight....

 The fact is that we can never do enough to please God. Whatever we do isn’t going to be good enough. That’s why God has provided a Saviour in our Lord Jesus Christ. My standing with God thankfully doesn’t depend on what I do, but on what the Lord Jesus has already done on the cross for me. He’s taken my sin away for good.

Psalms 103:12

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

 If we think acceptance with God depends on how good we are, we can never know if we’ve done enough. What an awful thought! Never knowing whether God really loves us or is going to cast us into hell at the end. That’s the way most people live their lives. But, actually, God hasn’t put anybody in that situation. All men at all times do know God for sure, whether they acknowledge it or not. 

Unbelievers without Christ are in a dreadful situation:

 Ephesians 2:12

....having no hope, and without God in the world....

 But, whether they accept it or not, they still know for sure just enough about God’s eternal power and Godhead to be without excuse for their sin:

Romans 1:20-21

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

Believers, on the other hand, not only know so much more for sure about God, but they also know for sure that they themselves have been saved from their sins:

 Romans 8:1

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

 1 John 4:13

Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

 If we come to Christ, He puts a new heart within us, and makes us new creatures. The Holy Spirit comes to dwell in our hearts and leads us into knowing these truths for sure:

 1 John 2:27

But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

 Unbelievers will find that impossible to accept, because unless we’ve experienced this fundamental inward change for ourselves, we’ll never understand it. But when we’ve been changed by Him internally in this way, believe me, we’ll know Him for sure as our Saviour, and be confident of our eternal destiny. He’ll be alive in our hearts. We’ll have a living relationship with Him.

We may waver in our faith, especially if we’re new Christians or our faith is weak, but we’ll never lose it. In fact, if we’re worried we’ve lost our faith, it’s a sure sign that it’s still there. If it wasn’t there at all, we’d never be worried about it.

 Philippians 1:6

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

But there are many in other religions too who convince themselves that they are God’s chosen people, what makes the Christian so different? There’s a huge difference. Take the Orthodox Jew for example. He is so proud of the position he’s been born into. That makes him so arrogant, feeling far superior, looking down on everybody else who hasn’t received the same privileges he has. His religion feeds on pride and arrogance. That’s not the way God wants us to live. 

The true Christian would never think that way. If we’ve truly been saved by Christ, we’ll never think that we deserve what God has given us. We’re born no different from unbelievers, we’re exactly the same as them. We too were born as unbelieving, self-centred creatures just like they are:

Ephesians 2:3

Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.

By nature, we’re children of wrath, just like everybody else. But we’ve been changed, we’ve been quickened. And our change has all come from the Lord. We can never be proud and arrogant like the Orthodox Jew. We haven’t deserved this change in any way. God has done the changing, all the glory goes to Him. We now believe for sure we’re one of God’s children, but we’ll never be able to boast about it:

 Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

 Romans 3:27-28

Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

 After realising what God has done for us we can only humble ourselves and say, “Why me, and not my neighbour?”

 1 Samuel 2:3

Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.

 Isaiah 57:15

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

 1 Peter 5:5-6

....be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.

 Humility is all we can have before the Lord. But that doesn’t exclude coming to know many things for sure that the world can never know, including our eternal salvation. We shouldn’t let what the world claims it knows for sure to persuade us that they’re right all the time, because they’re not. The world doesn’t know what it’s talking about. God does.

God gives the Christian so much knowledge, all of which is in the Bible: 

 John 17:17

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

 But it’s not just academic knowledge the Christian has. Anybody can find out the truth if they study their Bibles hard enough. The Holy Spirit now lives inside the believer, and gives him a confidence to know spiritual things for sure. An unbeliever might be able to work out what the Bible teaches, but he can never have that confidence. And not only that, but the Holy Spirit also applies this knowledge to the Christian, so that we can know for sure, that the things God wants us to know, are applicable to us, personally.

 There are many hundreds of “we know’s” or “I know’s” in the Bible, which gives us an indication of how much we can become truly sure about. I’ll just list a few here. See if you can come across others, they’re not difficult to find.

 The best place to start is the first letter of John, which was written for the very purpose of confirming our faith:

 1 John 5:13

These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

 Here’s my list. Firstly, a selection from 1 John:

 1 John 2:18

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

 1 John 3:2

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

 1 John 3:14

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.

 1 John 3:18-19

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

 1 John 3:24

And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

 1 John 4:6

We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

 1 John 5:2

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

 1 John 5:14-15

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

 1 John 5:18-20

We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not*; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

[*What do you think of this statement? Can a Christian be sinless? No, that’s not what it’s saying. Earlier in the letter John said:

1 John 1:8

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

 John explains what he means more clearly in chapter 3:

 1 John 3:6

Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

In other words, to the extent we “abide in Christ,” we cannot sin, but to the extent we don’t abide in Him but let self get the upper hand, we sin all the time, and behave as though we’ve never known Him.]

More “we know” passages from the rest of Scripture:

 Romans 7:14,18

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.... For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

 Romans 8:22

For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.

 Romans 8:28

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

 Romans 14:14

I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

 1 Corinthians 8:4

As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

 2 Corinthians 5:1

For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

 Philippians 3:10

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

 Philippians 4:12

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

 1 Timothy 1:8

But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;

 2 Timothy 1:12

For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

 Hebrews 10:30

For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

 Hebrews 11:3

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

 Job 19:25-26

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

 Job 42:2

I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.

 Psalm 39:4

Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.

 Psalm 41:11

By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.

 Psalm 73:16-17

When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

 Psalm 135:5

For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.

 Psalm 140:12

I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.

 Ecclesiastes 3:12-14

I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

Jeremiah 9:24

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

 We can know many things for sure, but there are also plenty of other things that we’ll never know on this earth. Here’s a few things we don’t know:

 Acts 1:7

And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

 Romans 8:26

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

 1 Corinthians 4:4

For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

 1 Corinthians 13:9,12

For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.... For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

 2 Corinthians 5:16

Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

 Psalms 71:15

My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day; for I know not the numbers thereof.