In a previous post I mentioned that an awareness of sin in your life can be a sign of hope. It distinguishes you from hypocrites.
However, there is another issue that must be faced when we have doubts. Are your doubts because of ongoing sin that you refuse to confess and forsake? Is your faith based on some event in your past (profession of faith, praying a prayer, walking an aisle, being baptized . . .) that has no bearing on your life now?
If that is the case, you should doubt the reality of your faith!
Listen again to Jonathan Edwards:
Distant experiences, when darkened by present prevailing lust and corruption, will never keep alive a gracious confidence and assurance, but one that sickens and decays upon it, as necessarily as a little child by repeated blows on the head with a hammer. Nor is it at all to be lamented that persons doubt of their state in such circumstances: on the contrary it is desirable and every way best that they should. . .
. . .For so hath God contrived and constituted things, in His dispensations towards His own people, that when their love decays and the exercises of it fail or become weak, fear should arise; for then they need it to restrain them from sin, and to excite them to care for the good of their souls, and so to stir them up to watchfulness and diligence in religion.
He concludes later:
They therefore do directly thwart God’s wise and gracious constitution of things, who exhort others to be confident in their hope when in dead frames; under a notion of “living by faith and not by sight, and trusting God in the dark, and living upon Christ, and not upon experiences;” and warn then not to doubt of their good estate, lest they should be guilty of the dreadful sin of unbelief. And it has a direct tendency to establish the most presumptuous hypocrites, and to prevent their ever calling their state in question, how much soever wickedness rages and reigns in their hearts, and prevails in their lives, under a notion of honouring God, by hoping against hope and confidently trusting in God, when things look very dark.
When doubts arise in your hearts, and you know you are not living in obedience to God, use the opportunity to repent and turn to Him. Look to the cross and the grace that is offered there in Jesus. Don’t just go on assuming everything is okay because of something that happened in your past.
Pastor Mike Walters
Source: Jonathan Edwards, The Religious Affections, pp.107-109 (Banner of Truth 2004 edition)