I grew up in a typical home with loving parents, two brothers, and a dog. The only thing unique about my upbringing was that my dad was a pastor and well-known author of many Christian books. From a young age I knew my father was respected and looked up to by many. He was a “man of God.”
Naturally, I grew accustomed to hearing Biblical principles. All the stories of the Bible were more familiar to me than any children’s book or movie. I was a good kid. I obeyed my parents, participated in Sunday school, and tried not to follow the bad kids or do things that would make my parents upset. God must have been pleased with me because I was a good person, right? “Surely I didn’t deserve hell – that was where murders and haters of God went!” Surely I didn’t deserve hell – that was where murders and haters of God went!
For a while, I believed just that – I was no sinner and definitely good enough to get into heaven all by myself. Unfortunately, what I believed was exactly opposite of what God says. But when I started making the Bible personal to me I began to see things in a totally different light.
I am a sinner. Romans 5:12 & 23 tells us that “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:… For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” I tried to obey my parents and teachers, but deep down in my heart, I was rebellious. I wanted my own way and often did wrong in secret so I wouldn’t get caught. I even knew the Ten Commandments and that I had broken many of them. But this was hard to admit to others and especially myself. I had lied to myself about being a good person even while knowing what the Bible said. I had to openly admit that I was full of sin and fully to blame.
I need a Savior. According to the Bible, the payment for my sin was hell. (“For the wages of sin is death…”) Jesus Christ was a familiar name to me. I truly believed that Jesus was God in the flesh, my Creator and the Savior of the world. I knew He was sent because of my sin. “I wanted my own way and often did wrong in secret so I wouldn’t get caught.”Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” But just believing wasn’t enough.
I must seek. Just because I believed what the Bible said about my sin and about Jesus, it did not resolve my biggest problem – my heart. Sure, on the outside I was fine, but my heart was growing more wicked every day. I was still being controlled by my sin and still on my way to hell. The Bible may condemn us, but It also offers great hope! Isaiah 59:1 & 2 say, “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.”
I must surrender. It was my fault that God would not receive me; it was my sin that kept me from Him. I finally understood true belief in God meant turning from myself and my sin. I could not live my life for both God and myself – it had to be one or the other. When I understood this vital truth, I cried out to God for His mercy. I asked Him to forgive me and cleanse me from my sin. I acknowledged that Jesus was the only way to be free from my sin – something that condemned me to death. I finally acted upon Romans 10:9 & 10 which says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
I gave my life to God that day and immediately He saved me for all eternity! I now want to live for Him, not myself. Since then, God has done so much! He’s given me eternal life: “…whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) He calls me His child and promises me a home in heaven when I die. He’s also completely changed the desires of my heart to want to please Him and not myself. With His Spirit now living inside me I have amazing peace and joy, even in the hard times. I know that He wants only the best for me and will never leave me. I’m so glad I found Him!
“I could not live my life for both God and myself – it had to be one or the other.”Dear friend, have you experienced the forgiveness of God? Have you confessed to Him that you are a sinner? God is so loving and merciful that He sent His precious Son to save us. He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Maybe you’re like me – you believe in God but you’ve never turned your life over to Him. He is waiting, listening, and reaching His hand down to you even now. “…Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2b)