My Struggle with Doubt and the Victory I Found April 7, 2016


It was the darkest time of my life spiritually. Like many believers, I struggled through a period of tremendous doubt about my salvation. There were many factors that contributed to my lack of assurance. Because I had trusted Christ as my Savior as a young child my memories were not extremely clear. And a “changed life?” I was no drug addict or criminal at five years of age!

Had I believed enough? Did I truly understand? Could I have failed to pray the right prayer? Everything reproduces after its own kind: questions only lead to more questions.

Well do I remember the day Dr. Frank Sells said in my hearing, “Drive a stake a mile deep in the ground about your salvation.” I had prayed hundreds of times. I wanted to be sure. But, how?

Permit me to share with you the two truths that brought me out of the shadows and into the light, out of defeat and into victory…

  •  Christ is enough.

All of my doubts and questions seemed to revolve around me. The Scriptures plainly teach that “salvation is of the LORD.” There is no assurance in your prayer, your emotion, your logic, or your experience. The only confidence we have is that the work Jesus did at Calvary was all-sufficient. And my part? Only to look to Him!

Hebrews 12:2 gives the secret: “Looking unto Jesus!” The word used is a directional word – literally, look away from everything else and unto Him alone. When I caught a glimpse of the cross and the love of God peace came into my soul. Christ is enough.

When the devil brings accusations – take him to the cross and point him to Jesus. When the flesh brings questions – take it to the cross and show it Jesus. Victory is found through “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). All of my doubts were wrapped up in me; all of my peace was found in Him.

  • My greatest assurance is not past tense but present tense.

So many of my questions revolved around the event, the experience, the emotion on the day I invited Christ into my life. Yet salvation is a present possession and it produces present realities. Memories are fine but can be wrong. What do you know for sure today?

The greatest evidence of birth is not stories from the day you were born, it is that you are alive today! And so it is with the new birth. Birth brings life.

The Apostle John recorded for us the words of Jesus in his gospel record, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). In his later letter he provides spiritual proofs of that new life. Spend some time in the little book of 1 John and examine your own heart. Identify the spiritual “vital signs” – the breath, the heart, the love, the hunger and thirst! These are signs of life.

On top of all that, you have a birth certificate! 1 John 5:13 declares, “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.” The Great Physician put it in writing so that you would have a sure record.

Concentrate on your present walk with Christ. Growth in grace and the knowledge of the Lord is the surest evidence that you are one of God’s children (Read 2 Peter 1:3-11). Follow Jesus today.

You can have assurance. The Lord desires it and provides it. Look to Him and not yourself today. Remember that the devil brings question marks – God brings periods and exclamation points.

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  1. Bob & Vicky Smith on April 7, 2016 at 12:43 PM

    Brother Pauley,

    This was so helpful! Thank you for sharing your struggle & how God gave you assurance. God bless you & your sweet family, we are praying for you.

    • Scott Pauley on April 7, 2016 at 1:18 PM

      Thanks for your prayers! God bless you all.

  2. Chad Buhman on April 7, 2016 at 1:56 PM

    Wonderful article! Eternal life is a present possession indeed!

    • Scott Pauley on April 7, 2016 at 5:30 PM

      Amen! Thanks for taking time to read.

  3. Ann Marie Bordner on April 7, 2016 at 2:46 PM

    Oh, dear brother Pauley! Thank you for this precious post. I feel like it was truly for my benefit. I have struggled with assurance and confidence in my salvation many times over the years. Being raised in the Catholic church as a child, I was taught to doubt, and to trust in being good enough to earn God’s favor. Once I heard the Gospel and trusted Christ as my Savior those old doubts kept coming back. Your beautiful story showed me a truth so plainly… it is not about me, or being good enough, or saying the right words. It is about Jesus Christ’s work on the cross..His grace and mercy are complete..He said “it is finished”. What tremendous peace you have given me today. Praise God. I am so thankful to you for showing me this beautiful but simple truth! Ann Marie Bordner

    • Scott Pauley on April 7, 2016 at 5:30 PM

      I am so glad it was a help to you. God bless you!

  4. Alicia Reagan on April 7, 2016 at 3:02 PM

    Wonderful post!

    God also used Dr. Frank Sells to help with the assurance of my salvation. My story is almost identical to yours. I was saved at 5 and I doubted all of the same things. Dr. Sells told a story about his doubts when he was a young man. He said that he went and prayed and told the Lord, “If I die and go to hell, it will be your fault. I am trusting you to take me to Heaven so if you don’t, you will have failed me.” At first, I thought, “You told God THAT?!!!” 🙂 But the simplicity of my salvation in Christ sunk in. It is all Jesus – or it is nothing. It is all about Him – and nothing about me. It is not what happened back when – it is what I believe right now!

    I went back to my dorm room and told the Lord the same thing. It settled it in my heart. There have been times since then when Satan tries to scare me, but I just remind Him that I am finished with all that and Christ has taken care of it all!

    Great post. Thank you for sharing!

    • Scott Pauley on April 7, 2016 at 5:29 PM

      Dr. Sells was always good at pointing us to the Lord alone! Thanks for taking time to read and share.

  5. Donna on April 7, 2016 at 3:20 PM

    This is exactly what I struggled with until the Holy Spirit spoke to me and reminded me that my faith is in Jesus Christ and what He did for me. I will be sharing this with some folks I know it will help. Thank you.

    • Scott Pauley on April 7, 2016 at 5:28 PM

      Thanks for reading and sharing!

  6. Jerry on April 7, 2016 at 8:17 PM

    Gary Habermas, perhaps the world’s leading authority on the resurrection of Jesus, became such after going through his period of doubt. He has written an excellent free eBook entitled “The Thomas Factor”. You can Google it. Thanks for your openness.

    • Scott Pauley on April 7, 2016 at 8:45 PM

      Thank you

  7. Daniel Crisman on April 7, 2016 at 8:20 PM

    Thanks Bro Scott for a great article. I too faced the same struggle. I have fond memories of Dr Sells and his impactful teaching of God’s Word. I remember him quoting the last portion of Psalm 35:3 as a great truth to claim – “…say unto my soul, I am thy salvation.”

    • Scott Pauley on April 7, 2016 at 8:45 PM

      I love it! Thanks for taking time to read and comment. Hope you are well

  8. Bart Hughey on April 7, 2016 at 10:53 PM

    Great article brother Pauley. I was saved at 7 years old and have struggled with doubt over the years as well. Memories and dates fade. I have literally asked many of the same questions that you outlined here. I find that when I’m seeking God through reading my Bible and praying and being active in my local Church that the devil comes looking for me. When all else fails I run to the Word.

    • Scott Pauley on April 8, 2016 at 10:16 AM

      The enemy knows our weak areas and we must be prepared for that. Thanks for letting me know! God bless you.

  9. Jay Snead on April 8, 2016 at 7:41 AM

    Thanks for sharing Scott! Our Bible, tells us as, you stated that we are saved when we put our trust & have faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus! How do I know? Because the Bible tells me, and it is true! Thanks for the clarity to help others have confidence in the Bible.

    • Scott Pauley on April 8, 2016 at 10:15 AM

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! Appreciate your friendship.

  10. Pastor Byron Chesney on April 8, 2016 at 10:31 AM

    Bro. Pauley, your writings always inspire me and this one in particular is very helpful. One of the toughest things that I have ran across during my years in the ministry is trying to persuade folks that salvation is not based upon an emotion or feeling but, as you said, salvation is all of the Lord. Thanks again and I pray for you and your ministry continuously.

    • Scott Pauley on April 8, 2016 at 11:10 AM

      Thank you, my friend! God bless you and your work.

  11. Grant Garber on April 8, 2016 at 2:14 PM

    I don’t know if you remember, brother… When I was a young Bible college student, you helped me through that same dark struggle with many of the very same words you wrote here. It is still so precious to me and thrills my heart to think that “Christ is ENOUGH!”
    Sitting in your office below the old cafeteria, you told me that someday God would use my experience to help someone else. Every time I council someone concerning doubt, I recall our conversation and how God used you to help me. Thank you so much, Brother Pauley!

    • Scott Pauley on April 8, 2016 at 2:54 PM

      I do remember! So thrilled to see how God is using you. Thank you for encouraging me.

  12. Lisa Alcorn on April 8, 2016 at 7:57 PM

    Hello Brother Pauley, I am Seth Alcorn’s mom. Thanks for sharing about your struggle with doubting your salvation and how you found victory! What a blessing it was to hear your story. I too, struggled with doubting my salvation for many years. You are so right; Christ is enough!!! Keep sharing that testimony , for I know that it will helpful to many. Thank you for being such a blessing to our family!!!

    • Scott Pauley on April 8, 2016 at 10:51 PM

      God bless you. Thank you for taking time to read and be an encouragement.

  13. Susie Hall on April 9, 2016 at 12:48 AM

    Just wonderful. Thank you for sharing. I love the Romans Road to walk someone thru the plan of salvation, but I like starting with I John 5:13, because of “that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” Understanding and knowing that it is all Christ, Christ alone; therein, lies our salvation and the peace that comes from resting in HIM.

    • Scott Pauley on April 9, 2016 at 6:24 PM

      Amen. Always good to hear from you!

  14. telissa on April 9, 2016 at 2:18 PM

    That was good!

    • Scott Pauley on April 9, 2016 at 6:25 PM

      Thanks for taking time to read. God bless you.

  15. Reynaldo Garado on April 11, 2016 at 11:00 PM

    Thank you sir for using your message that we should walk with God in our Generation.

    • Scott Pauley on April 12, 2016 at 7:31 AM

      God bless you.

  16. William Mays on April 18, 2016 at 7:43 PM

    Praying for you brother Pauley. Your teaching has always helped me. I remember you teaching on this while I attended Crown. You told us to not be morbidly introspective. Lol. I teach that today.

    • Scott Pauley on April 18, 2016 at 8:42 PM

      Thanks Bill. That quote actually has to be attributed to Dr. Sells who taught me! We all are passing along what we have been taught. God bless you.

  17. Judy on April 21, 2016 at 10:02 PM

    Appreciate you sharing your article . . . have talked with some people who wonder why they need a Savior? Or a Savior from what? Many need a clear explanation of our Christian terminology, ie: “cross,” “Calvary,” and “Savior.” And, sadly, been to funerals where preachers flippantly give the idea that every “good” person goes to heaven. But they failed to acknowledge our holy, Creator God and our desperate need as sinners. And I feel they leave people “hanging!” Thanks for pointing us to John 3, great chapter! God bless.

    • Scott Pauley on April 21, 2016 at 11:44 PM

      Thank you for taking time to read. God bless you.

  18. Will on May 31, 2018 at 10:54 AM

    Hello, i first want to say that the article was very helpful, I could relate to it a lot. I do have a question though: what if I don’t see many “proofs” of my new spiritual life? What if I don’t see many works in my life? After all, doesn’t James state faith without works is dead? I mean, of course there has been a change in my life, but I didn’t necessarily do anything terrible beforehand, like doing hardcore drugs or steal or whatever. I don’t think people could have been able to tell wether I was a Christian by just hanging out with me for a few minutes. Does this mean I’m unsaved? I know I should look to Christ for assurance, but this doubt is just to strong to do that. Thanks for the help.

    • Scott Pauley on June 1, 2018 at 9:35 PM

      I went through the same struggle myself, having trusted Christ as my Savior as a young boy. The answer is not in what He saved you from but what He has done in your heart. The emphasis of 1 John is on the change of heart/desire that leads to a change of actions. Conviction of sin, hunger for spiritual things, answered prayer, desire to be with God’s people, etc. are all spiritual birthmarks of a true believer. For some reason we tend to thing of the evidences of salvation only on the negative side instead of on the positive. Only God can give you assurance. In the end, that assurance must be based on the sufficiency of Christ and not any thing that you do. May God give you such a glimpse of Christ that it will settle all doubts. God bless you.

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