I Was Religious, But Lost
My name is Saritha Manohar, and this is my story. I was born and raised in a church going family in India and we attended church every week. There I heard interesting Bible stories at Sunday school and VBS. As a teenager I attended different churches and used to participate in youth camps, retreats and VBS. I was taught that, in order to go to Heaven, one must “be saved,” so at the age of 15, I even got baptized to please my parents. But sadly, I did not understand Bible salvation.
After I graduated, one of my friends told me about the Baptist church she was attending and invited me to go. The messages were very different from what I heard in other churches and I started learning many new things. I wanted to follow God, so I remember saying “the sinner’s prayer” and getting baptized at the age of 25, and joining that church. I shared this with my family, but they did not like it and asked me to stop going to this church. However, I continued going every week and that church became my second home. I became very involved.
“My church activities and ministry with friends lulled fooled me into thinking I was right with God now.”
But, there was something desperately wrong. I was going to this church for several years and saw neither change nor fruit in my life. I could never read my Bible, learn from it, nor apply it to my life – it never really made sense to me. I was living a dual life – one at church and one at home. I still enjoyed watching Indian Bollywood movies, listening to worldly music and going out with my unsaved friends; there was no change in my life. I found myself confessing the same sins over and over again. All that I had was religion, and not a relationship with God.
However, God was at work in my life. He was leading me to a place where I would see my greatest need and be truly born again. In 2006 God led David into my life and we were engaged. In May 2009 I moved from India to the USA and David and I got married.
Moving to a new country was a big adjustment for me. I often recognized that I had everything I ever wanted, and knew I should be happy and thankful, yet I was frustrated, and I was angry at all the problems that seemed to fall my way. I was a tense, temperamental person. Sin was also a part of my daily life.
“I was justifying my sin thinking what could be wrong with a little sin here and there?”
David and I began to have Bible devotions at home; He often spoke to me on spiritual things that sometimes really got my attention. He told me that a saved person needs to be holy and must be separated from worldly things and worldly entertainment and spend more time in God’s word. We did not have one mind in spiritual things and we had many disagreements. I began to rebel strongly. I had a lot of anger inside my heart. Most of my areas of sin were rooted in pride – my appearance and my sense of control over my life. I was stuck in a cycle of lacking peace – and trying harder to find it. All I found was more emptiness. So we did some marriage counseling with the pastor. I was trying to change my behavior to somehow bring peace with God. And I started to read my Bible a little more. Although I began reading, I really wasn’t getting anything out of it. I was just going through the motions, but deep down, I was unwilling to forsake my sins. (Rom 8:6-9)
While attending Lehigh Valley Baptist Church I began to hear straightforward preaching on sin and repentance which was different from what I heard before. Various members shared their testimonies of how they came to know Jesus as their personal Savior and their stories challenged me to examine my own story.
Our church has a wonderful ministry of writing out testimony tracts. I kept putting off writing my own, because I felt I was too busy to do it. When I found time to sit down and write my own testimony, I realized it was not a life-changing experience. I began to doubt my salvation.
In 2012 I was pregnant with Abigail and my mother came from India to spend two months with us. During that time David did a Bible study with my mother which ended up helping me more than her! I remember telling my mother that simply believing Christ does not make us a Christian. Real salvation comes from godly sorrow, yielding our hearts to the Lord and walking in newness of life. But I was finding it difficult to share my own testimony with her.
“I realized that my own life had never really changed after my previous profession of salvation. “
God was gracious to me. He blessed us with a beautiful daughter in October 2012 and two months later my mother returned to India. Soon I was feeling so empty and troubled. God began dealing with my heart about things that I needed to confess. I came to realize that I hadn’t really desired a change in my life and didn’t have a relationship with the Lord either. Acts 3:19 says “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” It broke my heart and drove me to my knees in repentance and faith to commit myself to the Lord. I poured out my heart and admitted to God that my heart was deceitful, and I was unable to rightly discern my true spiritual condition. I truly wanted to live my life for Him, and to do His will. I surrendered my all to the Lord. I prayed and this time I knew I had repented of my sins and accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. I now know that I am saved from my sin. He has given me peace and assurance about who I am and why I am here. I now have a relationship with Him – I went from knowing about God – to knowing Him personally. I find it so amazing that God changed my heart and I’m His child!
Dear friend, the Bible says we should examine ourselves whether we are really saved (2 Corinthians 13:5) Has your life been transformed? Are you growing in God’s Word and walking in newness of life? (1 Corinthians 2:10-12) If you are not and don’t have full assurance, then you are sending your soul to the eternal lake of fire. I was deceived and fooled by Satan; don’t waste your life missing out on what real salvation is all about.