I cannot imagine living without the assurance that the security of my salvation is not left up to me. If I believed that salvation could be lost... wow, talk about bondage.
I know the frustration of talking with someone about the whole "once saved, always saved" thing. I don't believe that a person can go forward during a church service, repeat some words, fill out a card, live however they want and be assured that they have been saved. But as a point of concession, I know that there are many people that live that way. So I want to get that out of the way before we continue. Some will argue that this person "lost" their salvation. I believe that they never had salvation to start with. I guess that if they can lay their head down on a pillow and sleep at night with a life that shows no evidence of God, then I would say that they have a serious conscience problem. That in itself is evidence that there was never a change, a regeneration, if you will, of their heart. That should negate any assurance that they have been saved. But then again, the human heart is desperately wicked and it will lie and tell people that they are saved.
But, I know that the Holy Spirit would never perpetrate such a lie. Also, I believe that most people who ask the question are dealing with the question. Most people who are living "like the devil" are not worried about the state of their salvation anyway. This is meant to be help to those who are struggling.
The real issue are those who sit in church Sunday after Sunday and have no assurance of salvation. There could be several reasons for this:
They may not be saved and be under conviction (I am making no judgement with this statement, just stating a very possible reality).
They may have an unconfessed sin problem and therefore be under conviction. Satan loves to attack these people with the law of sin and guilt.
They may be basing their assurance on what they feel and not what God says in His Word. This is a belief problem, belief in God's Word, God's ability, and God's promise to complete that which He began. This too places a person under conviction.
Check the focus here, in case you did not notice, the fact that this person is under conviction. This is a work of the Holy Spirit. "And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:" (John 16:8 ESV)
What a person needs to do is to carefully examine themselves in light of God's Word. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. (2Pet. 1:10)
Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (2Cor. 13:5)
The Apostle John gives us several "tests" that help us.
The Test of Trust (Some have called this a spiritual birth certificate)
And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. (1John 5:11-12)
The Test of a Changed Life
If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1John 1:6)
The Test of an Attitude Toward the Word of God
And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. (1John 2:3 )
The Test of an Attitude Toward the World
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1John 4:4-6)
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1John 2:15)
The Test of an Attitude Toward Sin
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1John 3:9-10)
We need to understand that we will sin, but it will not be our habitual practice. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1John 2:1)
The Test of Love for Fellow Christians
We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. (1John 3:14)
The Test of Love
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. (1John 4:7)
The Test of the Witness of God's Spirit
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. (1John 4:13)
The reality is this: God is responsible for our salvation, we are not. "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil. 1:6) We must rest the assurance of our salvation on the truth of God's Word and not our emotions. We can know. John wrote in his gospel, "... but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:31)
If you do not know, then know this: "that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures." (1Cor 15:3) and "But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, "Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame." For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."" (Romans 10:8-13 ESV)
If you are struggling with this, feel free to contact me.