I Was Religious, But Lost
-Saritha Manohar

From Religion to Repentance

-Saritha Manohar


 

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I was born in Hyderabad, India. I grew up going to church all my life. I learned all the Bible stories at Sunday school and VBS. As a teenager, I participated in youth camps & youth retreats. After I graduated, one of my friends told me about a Baptist church she was attending and invited me to go. The preaching was different from what I heard before, so I started going. I always believed the Gospel as a general thing that Jesus died for my sins. So I made a profession of salvation and was baptized. The profession was out of fear of going to hell, BUT not because I was ready to submit my life to the Lord. I appeared to be living a Christian life BUT without a RELATIONSHIP with CHRIST. No matter how I appeared outwardly, there was neither change nor fruit in my life. I could never read my Bible, learn from it nor apply it to my life. Realistically, I was not growing at all, but was backsliding. I was living a dual life – one at church and one at home. I was a temperamental person, spent much time on fashion & make up, and enjoyed watching & listening to worldly (Bollywood & Hollywood) movies & music. I had no burden for the lost souls and was living a meaningless life. I found myself confessing the same sins over and over again.

 

“All that I had was a RELIGION, BUT there was no REPENTANCE.”

 

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 Sept 2006, God led David into my life, and we were engaged. In May 2009, I moved from India to the USA and got married to David. Moving to a new country was a big adjustment for me. I had everything in life I ever wanted, and I should have been happy and thankful, yet I was frustrated and was angry at all the problems. David and I began to have Bible devotions at home; he often spoke to me on spiritual things, but we did not have one mind and had many disagreements. Meanwhile, I was attending Lehigh Valley Baptist Church, which was a huge blessing to me. I started to hear strong preaching on SIN and REPENTANCE. God was opening my eyes to the truth, and everything started to make sense.

Through the Bible studies, I was able to understand the difference between Christianity as a religion and salvation of the Bible. All through the scriptures in Old and New Testament, I could see that God is calling people to REPENT (Acts 17:30, 2 Peter 3:9). Jesus began his public ministry by calling people to repentance and faith. In Mark 1:15, He said, “..repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Jesus described “salvation,” or being “born again,” as coming to repentance, which is basically an attitude of a person’s heart in turning from sin and self and turning to God. God’s objective was not merely to bring people to a mental belief of the Gospel, but prior to our belief there should be REPENTANCE. But sadly the word “repentance” we do not hear much, and is not being taught in many churches today. Repentance is essential to salvation, and NONE can be saved apart from repentance. It is included in believing and cannot be separated from it. A genuine repentance in a person results in a change of life and brings about the right motives in how he/she lives for Christ.

I read testimony tracts of various Lehigh Valley Baptist Church members, who were raised in Christian homes, but there still was a time when each one of them surrendered their lives over to Christ. Their stories challenged me to examine my own story and to write my testimony, but I kept putting off and felt too busy to do it. And when I found time to write, I figured out that I never turned away from my old, sinful ways. I realized that my own life had never really changed after my earlier profession of salvation. I had always lived selfishly for myself and not for God. Instead of being saved, I was actually a condemned, unrepentant sinner.

 

“My religion, ego, and pride were letting me think that I was saved, but I had no peace and assurance of my salvation.”

 

I was feeling empty and troubled and began to have doubts about my salvation. The doubting never stopped. I was trying hard to change my behavior to somehow bring peace with God, and I started to read my Bible a little more. God spoke to me through many verses. I began to look at sin and its consequences from God’s perspective and saw areas of sin in my life that did not please God. God was convicting me about my lost condition. Finally in December 2012, I gave up my hypocrisy and cried out to the Lord, truly repented of my sins, and surrendered my life to the Lord. I chose to turn away from my sins and my own way and trusted in Jesus to save me and forgive me – and He did!

Since that time, my life has not been the same. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” I am totally different from what I used to be. Today, I can say that Jesus is the Lord of my life, and I have a personal relationship with Him every day. He speaks to me through His Word – the Bible. He is changing me and has given me a new purpose in life and victory over my old sins. I avoid carnal and worldly living, and my sincere desire is to serve and obey Him. I praise the Lord for His eternal salvation–which I did not deserve and could never earn on my own efforts. Since the time I’ve written my testimony, my commitment to the Lord has become stronger than ever. For years, I did not know for sure where I would spend my eternity – in Heaven or Hell?? But now, God has given me peace, joy & assurance about my eternal security. I went from knowing about God – to knowing Him personally.

 

“I praise and thank my God for working in my life & changing me into His image.”

 

Dear friend, God can change your life too!! The Bible says we should examine ourselves whether we are really saved (2 Corinthians 13:5).The Bible also says in Mark 8:36, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” What are you trusting in to go to Heaven? Your good works in religion or baptism or church membership?? Jesus says in Luke 13:3, “..except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Was there a time in your life that you repented to turn away from your sins?? Have you surrendered your life to Jesus?? If your answer is “Yes,” then has your life been transformed? Do you have a relationship with Christ every day, studying His Word? Are you growing in God’s Word and walking in newness of life?? If your answer is “No,” and you don’t have full assurance, then sadly, you are sending your soul to Hell. According to the Bible, salvation/the new birth/being born again, is necessary to everyone, no matter who you are. All are lost by nature and need the spiritual birth (John 3:3). All must repent and be born again, including those who were born and raised in Christian homes (2 Peter 3:9). I was deceived by Satan for many years, thinking that I was saved. Please don’t waste your time, but find out what real salvation is all about.This is what is most important in this life.