“Paralyzed by Pride”
My parents began attending church when I was six months old. They were saved soon afterward and determined to give me and my siblings a Christian upbringing. (Note: “saved,” “salvation,” and “born again” are Biblical concepts referring to the forgiveness of sins by God and the rescue of a person from the power and penalty of that sin. This is God’s requirement for everlasting life.) They taught us to read the Bible daily and to pay attention during services. I listened to my Sunday School teachers and tried my best to obey my parents. It didn’t take long for me to start thinking of myself as a pretty good person.
When I was about five years old, I heard our pastor preach a message about the penalty for sin, which is going to hell when one dies. Because I was so young, I didn’t have a clear understanding of salvation. I didn’t understand that Jesus died on the cross to pay for all the wrong that I had personally done. I couldn’t yet grasp that I was a sinner. I was, however, scared at the thought of hell. After the message, I asked God not to let me go to hell.
“For the time, I was relieved of my fears, but there was no change in my heart or life.”
Not too long afterward, I heard another message that renewed my fear of hell that made me doubt if I was really safe. I prayed again, thinking that surely God would save me that time. For several years, I lived in that cycle, making false profession after false profession. Each time, I wondered what was missing. Why didn’t I feel sure that I would go to heaven? I didn’t realize that I was lacking all remorse for my sin against a holy God.
Eventually, I grew numb to the Gospel message. After hearing it so many times, it just didn’t scare me anymore. At this point, I knew that I was not saved. I decided to stick outwardly to the last profession that I had made and focus on other, more enjoyable things. I still read the Bible, only because my parents enforced that rule in our home. I still attended church regularly with the motivation of seeing my friends there.
“In general, I tried to give the appearance of a good, Christian kid in front of adults, but I let myself go in front of my friends and family. “
When I was eleven, my pastor preached a series of messages on the basics of salvation. After that series, it all made sense. I knew that I was a sinner, and I wanted a real relationship with God. I now knew what I had been missing: a real repentance of my sin in addition to the faith that God could and would save me. However, pride and the fear of what church members would think when they found out that I had lied about my previous profession kept me from giving my life over to God.
By age thirteen, I was truly disgusted with my sin. I was constantly lying about who I really was. I wanted God to change me, and I believed He would if I only asked. But I was too embarrassed to admit to everyone that I had not truly been saved before. One Sunday in May 2013, I walked into the church service, mentally steeling myself against conviction. That night, the guest speaker preached on the topic of Christians being too ashamed of God to speak out for Him in their daily lives. Although it was not specifically about salvation, God used the message to speak to me about what was hindering me from being saved. The verses found in 2 Timothy 1:7-8 really spoke to me. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Be not therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to God.”
“Then, I understood that if I put my faith in Jesus, God would replace my fear with a sound-minded spirit.”
At the end of the sermon, I asked God to forgive me for being ashamed of Him and for the rest of the terrible sins I had committed. I knew that God would save me if I truly repented, and He did! I immediately told my mother after the service was over, and to my surprise, she was not upset at me for lying to her before. Rather, she was excited and encouraged. Next, I informed my pastor, and once again, I was surprised at the response. I realized that I had been crippled in fear for nothing and that those fears had been lies of the devil.
Immediately, I noticed a new desire to be in God’s Word. Before, reading the Bible had been a chore. Now, I looked forward to seeing what God had for me each day. I didn’t just go to church to spend time with my friends. I actually wanted to learn and apply what was preached.
Since that night of May 19, 2013, I have still had the occasional problem with boldness or speaking out for Christ. However, now I have a choice. Before, I was stuck in my fear of man. Now, I can choose to hold on to God’s promises and move forward with a sound mind in each situation.