What Are NOT Religious Affections?

The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.


In the last few days, I have been reading Sam Storms’ adaptation or interpretation of Jonathan Edwards Religious Affections.

For your meditation today, I thought I would share with you some of Storms’ paraphrase of Edwards explaining those things that are not true affections. In other words, these are the characteristics (and they may be good and healthy) but they don’t validate or guarantee real salvation (aka genuine affections for God).[1]

Signs of the Spirit#1 – “The fact that people are inclined to talk at length about their spiritual experience proves nothing” (pg. 63). The Pharisees were outwardly religious, right (Matt 23). In other words, being religious talk isn’t proof of your salvation.

#2 – “The way in which people come to have their affections awakened proves nothing about whether those affections are of God or of the flesh” (pg. 63). Cf. Ephesians 1:18-19. In other words, having a spiritual experience doesn’t prove your salvation.

#3 – “When people experience religious affections because a Scripture text suddenly came to mind, it proves nothing” (pg. 65). Didn’t Satan have Scripture come to his mind in the wilderness and he then tried to use it against Jesus to tempt Him to sin (Matt 4:1-11). In other words, knowing what the Bible says or even memorizing it isn’t proof of your salvation.

#4 – “The mere fact that certain religious affections are characterized by love is no proof that the Holy Spirit is their author” (pg. 65). Cf. Matthew 24:12-13. In other words, being loving isn’t proof of your salvation.

#5 – “One might think that fervency in the normal affairs of worship and religious duty would be a sure sign of gracious affections. But this is not the case” (pg. 68). Cf. Isaiah 1:12-15. In other words, being faithful in your religious behavior isn’t proof of your salvation.

#6 – “Not even the vocal praise of God is a sure and certain sign of gracious affections” (pg. 69). How about the crowds that followed Jesus around? (Matt 9:8; 15:31; Mark 2:12; Luke 4:15; 5:26; 7:16; Acts 4:21). In other words, being passionate in your singing isn’t proof of your salvation.

#7 – “That true Christians are impressed by the external behavior and attracted to the lifestyle of another person proves nothing concerning the nature of the latter’s religious affections” (pg. 72). Men look at the outward; God looks inside, right? (I Sam 16:7; Isa 11:3). In other words, enjoying the company of other Christians isn’t proof of your salvation.

So what would Edwards say are the proofs of genuine religious affection? You will have to come back next Wednesday, Feb. 18 for that recap.

[1] This list has been adapted from Sam Storms, Signs of the Spirit, Chs. 2-3


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