Bill,

First of all, welcome to the Discussion Board.

I can understand your struggle to gain assurance of your salvation, especially coming out of the mess you were originally associated with. But let me suggest that you have perhaps gone too far the other way.

The error you really need to avoid is sitting around waiting for some "regeneration experience" which would then cause you to believe you CAN believe on Christ. a) regeneration is a secret and silent work of the Holy Spirit, i.e., it is NOT experiential. A sinner who has been regenerated only experiences the effects of that work, e.g., conviction of sin, hatred of sin, a desire to turn from sin, a love of and faith in Christ and a resolve to new obedience with total dependence upon the Spirit to live a life of holiness. b) Trusting in Christ with a true living faith is the fruit of regeneration and it is our "duty" to believe. It is not something the Spirit does for you, e.g., the popular notion of "Let go and let God!" c) True faith is demonstrated, exemplified by works (cf. Jh 14:15; 1Jh 5:2,3; 2Jh 1:6; Jam 2:18-24).

Thus, it is possible that you seek that which you already have; a new heart and a love for God in Christ. Perfection is never going to be achieved in this lifetime, but rather our life in Christ while we remain on this earth is one of constant struggle against the world, the flesh and the Devil. Isn't this the apostle Paul's own testimony (cf. Rom 7)?

There are some excellent articles on The Highway on this subject of Assurance which you may find helpful as you contemplate and pray over these things. You can find them here: Praxis - The Doctrine of the Christian Life. There are a few other other salient articles which I would recommend to you here: The Assurance of Salvation, and Assurance: How We Know We Know Christ and True and False Assurance.

Lastly, I'm going to move this thread to the Open Forum which I believe is where it relates to the subject at hand. grin
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simul iustus et peccator