If salvation is gained through a process of doing what is prescribed or necessary, how does one know when the process has been successful? That is an obviously critical question for those who believe thusly.
One response might be to simply say that if you know you have completed all the right steps, then you have God's promise that you are saved and that should be enough. However, given the obvious confusion among those who call themselves Christians about the right steps. coupled with the fact that the process is not laid out concisely in the scriptures, there is ample room for doubt about what the steps are. Seeking certainty in this environment by merely knowing that you have done all the law requires is not realistic.
In dealing with the question of knowing you are saved, many propose that we test our lives for evidence of repentance, transformation, commitment, piety, etc. In that regard, things like church attendance, Bible reading, prayer, public testimonies, and pious lifestyle become the measures of one's saved state. If all of these elements manifest themselves after the salvation experience, then salvation has indeed been secured. If not, maybe not or probably not or even absolutely not. It is not hard to imagine how the fragile psyche of a new convert will be devastated by this kind of a test. How soon must such evidence become evident? Do all the measures count equally and appear simultaneously? Does salvation insure an instantaneous transformation of mind and heart or simply begin a life long process of growth and spiritual maturing? Must I wait for years to really know if I have been saved, using this measure?
To complicate matters more, some point to certain scriptures and teach the doctrine of eternal security, meaning that a person who has ever experienced salvation can never lose it for any reason. Others cite other scripture and claim that the saved individual must continue to work to maintain their own saved state.
Usually those who own eternal security will effectively destroy any real feeling of security among its believers by qualifying their belief in saying that only those who exhibit the qualities of a Christian have ever been truly saved, and all other professing Christians are mistaken or dishonest about their salvation experience. If honest individuals can mistakenly believe themselves to be saved, then salvation becomes a cruel hoax and God's plan is vilified. To soften this implication, some in this doctrinal category will conclude that most if not all unsaved professing Christians are really dishonest and not simply deluded. You can be sure though that many in the church audience consider themselves honest believers but yet very insecure ones.
Those who deny eternal security effectively arrive at the same insecure place logically. In their understanding, the saved individual must continuously work to demonstrate their salvation. Daily soul searching to repent of sins and make lifestyle adjustments is the price of remaining saved. The belief that salvation can be lost by a subsequent misstep or a series of missteps adds a terrifying new element to the salvation equation- Am I still saved and will I be at the moment of death when it really, eternally counts.
Given the options described above, no one could really feel secure in their eternal state before God. There are unanswered and unanswerable questions at every turn, no matter how one formulates their doctrine. A process salvation, salvation by doing, by human effort and accomplishment, independent of God's Will and plan is an inevitable failure in terms of granting any security, peace, and joy. Under Orthodoxy's understanding of salvation insecurity is the only certainty.