Have you ever wondered if religion, going to church, or trying to live a good life has any worth? These were all a part of my life for many years. I was born into a religious family, and my parents took me to church regularly while I was growing up. I tried to live a good life and do what everyone expected of me. When I was taught something at church, I would try to do what they said, and I thought I was a pretty good person. However, as I grew older, I began to feel as though I was missing something; I was going through the motions of religion, but it was not making any difference in my life.
After awhile, I gave up trying to live that religious life, realizing that it was of no worth in my life. I did not totally give up on what I had been taught, but I began looking elsewhere for happiness and satisfaction in life. Religion, church, and good works had left me empty, and I thought I would enjoy my life without those things. Despite throwing myself into the activities and relationships that I thought would make me happy, I only seemed to grow less satisfied and more miserable.
Finally, I reached the point that I realized something had to change. Life had no meaning, and death was only something to fear. Following religion had not worked, and living my own way had not worked. I decided to seek God and look for answers from Him, since I was not finding them on my own. I turned to God’s Word, the Bible, to see what He had to say.
As I looked at the Word of God, I saw that God had set a standard for how we are supposed to live. Just as our country has laws that we must obey, so God has a law that we must follow. The law that He has given in the Bible is the Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20. I, who thought I was a pretty good person, began comparing my life to these commandments:
#1 – Have no other gods – Have I always put God first in my life?
#2 – Have no graven images – Have I created a god in my imagination, other than the God of the Bible?
#3 – Don’t take the name of the Lord in vain – have I ever used the name of God as a swear word or used it lightly?
#4 – Remember the Sabbath Day – Have I set apart any time for God, as He deserves?
#5 – Honor father and mother – Have I always obeyed and respected my parents?
#6 – Don’t kill – This commandment is further defined by Jesus; He said that anger in your heart is the same as murder. Have I ever been angry with anyone?
#7 – Don’t commit adultery – This commandment was also further defined; Jesus said that lust is the same as adultery. Have I ever looked with lust on another?
#8 – Don’t steal – Have I ever stolen, even something seemingly small or insignificant?
#9 – Don’t bear false witness – Have I ever told a lie?
#10- Don’t covet – Have I ever wanted and envied something that wasn’t mine?
As I looked at these commandments, I had to admit that I had broken them. Though I might have thought of myself as a good person, God clearly had a different view of me. The Bible also says in James 2:10, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” I realized that even if I could have kept all of the commandments, only failing once, then in God’s sight I was guilty, not good. Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” This told me that after I die, I will be judged by God. This scared me; I knew that I would be guilty in that day because I had broken God’s law. I was condemned by God because my heart and my actions were full of sin. With my guilt would come just punishment: eternity in hell, separated from God.
Thankfully, God did not want to leave me in my guilty, condemned state. Not only did I find out in the Bible about my guilt because I had broken God’s law, but I also found that God had provided a remedy for my sins. God had sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to earth, and He had lived a perfect, sinless life. Jesus then died for the sins of every person that ever had lived or ever would live. He had died for MY sins! He took my place and the judgment that I deserved because of my sin. Jesus made a way for me to be forgiven and to have a relationship with God that could bring me the peace and satisfaction that I had so vainly sought in my own way.
I knew all of what I had found in the Bible was true, and the only requirement was that I acknowledge and turn away from my sins (repent) and place my trust, my belief in Jesus to save me. I could then receive salvation, forgiveness, new purpose, and eternal life. But if I were to come, I had to be willing to give up my own way, my own ideas, and even my “good” works, and instead trust Him completely.
Finally, on January 23, 2008, I made that choice. I chose to turn away from my sins and my own way and trust in Jesus to save me and forgive me – and He did! Since that time, my life has not been the same. I am totally different from what I used to be. The emptiness is filled with having a relationship with God. He speaks to me through the His Word, the Bible, and He is changing me, giving me new purpose in life and victory over the old sins. Life has not become easy, and I still face difficult times in my life. The difference is now that God helps me through those difficulties and has given me a peace and joy that no difficulty can take away.
How about you? Have you looked to religion or doing the right thing to satisfy and found it empty? Have you ever wondered if there is more to life than what you have seen? I would encourage you to seek God; He has all the answers that you are seeking for, and He can give you new life, new hope, and a new purpose. He wants to have a relationship with you that will fill the emptiness you have. Seek God today!