Do you ever struggle with assurance of salvation, especially when examining yourself? Here are some wise words from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the importance of grounding our self-examination in the doctrine of justification by faith alone.
I must never start upon this process of self-examination without reminding myself at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the cardinal doctrine of justification by faith only. I mean this. If I start upon the process of self-examination without reminding myself that I am justified by faith only, there can be but one result of my self-examination, and that is, that I shall feel that I am not a Christian at all. I shall feel utterly hopeless and shall be thrown into a state of morbidity. Now this, of course, is the danger that confronts us when we read certain well-known and famous manuals of devotion. Take the famous Imitation of Christ, by Thomas a Kempis, in many ways a very valuable book, and yet in many ways an extremely dangerous book, because it tends ultimately to teach justification by works. It tends ultimately to give the impression that we make ourselves Christian by what we do. And, I say, if we start with that idea, this self-examination can but drive us to despair. There is only one safe way of examining ourselves, and it is to start by reminding ourselves that we are saved solely by the grace of God in Jesus Christ, and that if we move heaven and earth, or ascend into the depths, we can never make ourselves righteous before God. Nothing can save you and me but the fact that Christ died on the cross for us - there is our salvation!--D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Expository Sermons on 2 Peter, Banner of Truth, p. 244.