Now I Stand in His Righteousness!
-Michelle Castner

Now I Stand in His Righteousness!

My name is Michelle Castner, and this is my story.

“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Romans 10:1-4

On October 4, 1996, the Lord did something special in my life to bring about a true change in me. This change is so radical that I will never be the same. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you how God brought this about in my life.

For many years I thought I was a heaven-bound child of God. As a young child I was involved in many church activities: Sunday school, Junior church, Bible school, memorizing verses. I even had perfect attendance and brought visitors. I tried very hard to be a good girl and please my pastor, parents, and teachers. The older I got the harder it was for me to be good. Outwardly, I appeared to be living the Christian life, but inwardly there was a real conflict. The desire to sin was very strong, and no matter how obedient I appeared outwardly, I was very stubborn and rebellious inwardly.
My answer to the problem was to do more good works so that the negative feelings would go away. This constant struggle has characterized my entire life. During my freshmen year of college, I made a profession of faith and was re-baptized. I sincerely believed that I needed to be saved, but made the profession out of a fear of going to hell and not because I was ready to submit my entire WILL to the Lord and REPENT of my wicked condition before a Holy God. Satan used this sincere but empty profession to appease me for many years. Once again he used my goodness to give me false assurance. I was considered a godly woman by many of my friends. I taught Bible studies to other ladies and had a lot of knowledge of the Word of God. Others esteemed me as a role model because I was the wife of a missionary. All of these sincere outward shows of spirituality did nothing but feed my ego and not satisfy the needs of my soul.
"My answer to the problem was to do more good works so that the negative feelings would go away. This constant struggle has characterized my entire life.”
Soon anger, fear, doubts, jealousy, disrespect of the Word of God, apathy toward spiritual things, no burden for the lost, discouragement, and worldly, fleshly desires became more and more prominent in my life and began to poison everything I did. Off and on I would doubt my salvation, but would justify it by thinking that Satan was attacking me because I was serving the Lord and he was trying to render me useless by making me doubt. I would read in my Bible the chapters on salvation to find assurance and concluded that everything must be fine because I had done everything I needed to in order to be saved. As I look back, I can now say that I honestly didn’t read with an open mind and heart that was willing to admit that there may be a problem in my life that I needed to deal with. I read with a spirit of defense and would find verses to salve my conscience for a time. The doubts always returned and when they did, they were always stronger than before. I did not understand that salvation is a gift from God, not my rightful possession because I was trying to live a good, Christian life. Each time the good feelings of assurance would wear off, I would fall into depression and find myself sinning more and more because I felt sorry for myself that I couldn’t maintain a spiritual walk. I could not accomplish this, because my flesh had never responded to the true Light and had not been changed by Christ’s redeeming power that lasts for eternity. It had only been sadly reformed by my feeble, arrogant attempts that could not even last through a whole day.

God could have left me in this miserable condition that I was in, but He didn’t. The Bible says in Second Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us -ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” How many times had I rejected the conviction of the Holy Spirit in my life concerning my spiritual needs? How many times had I hardened my heart when hearing the testimony of how others had gotten saved? How many times had I day-dreamed through a sermon because I had heard all about that topic before?
"I had a struggle accepting that my profession in college was not a true one.”
The Lord began to work in my life by using the testimony of the salvation of a dear friend to get me to do some honest self-examination. He also used sickness in my life to humble me. He also used the sincere, godly testimony of my husband and other close friends to show me the contrast between their life and mine. Most importantly He used the power of the Word of God and its divine truths to convict me of my true spiritual condition (lost) and what the results of that condition would be (eternal separation from God).
Yet, even as these truths sunk into my soul, my PRIDE reared up and I began to defend why I must have already been saved. Here are some of my arguments I used to defend my false profession:

1. I am a good person, and have done good works. “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us…” (Titus 3:5)
2. I am considered a godly person. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (Second Timothy 3:5)
3. I have taught others the way of salvation. “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth…” (First Corinthians 2:13)
4. I have a vast knowledge of the Word of God. “And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” (First Corinthians 8:2)
5. I have done many wonderful works for the Lord. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23)
6. Others think I am saved. “For they loved the praise of men…” (John 12:43)
7. I already made a profession. “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” (Titus 1:16)
8. I already believe in God and Jesus Christ. “Thou believest there is one God: thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:9)

I had a struggle accepting that my profession in college was not a true one. When I was honest enough to face the truth, God used a sermon my husband had preached out of Matthew 7:13-29 explaining why there are so few that will enter into heaven. Matthew 13:4 says, “…except ye REPENT, ye shall all likewise perish.” In the dark hours of the night when I laid in bed wide awake for fear that the Lord would return and I would be left behind, God brought to mind this very crucial part of salvation. I had never repented (become so sick of my sin and myself that I would be willing to confess and forsake it and throw myself on the mercy of God to forgive me and change me.) In a Wednesday evening service during a preacher’s conference, God brought great conviction to my soul. With great weeping and agony of soul, I cried out to the Lord. Yet this was not the night of my salvation.

In the story of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:7-27), Christ knew that his covetousness was keeping him from being saved. God knows what it is in our hearts that keeps us from truly repenting. Even though I had come under great conviction and had confessed many sins in my life, I was not willing to confess and forsake the ROOT sin. I spent the next two days searching the Scriptures concerning true faith and repentance. God used the written testimony of another dear friend, who had gotten saved a week before, to show me that PRIDE was the sin I needed to repent of.
Psalm 10:4 states, “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” Because of my pride, I had never totally and completely submitted my will to God’s will and allowed Him to be the LORD of my life. When this became clear to me, I was able to truly repent of all my sins and believe on Christ and receive Him as my Lord and Saviour. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12,13)
"I now have the assurance that God had adopted me into His royal family to be a joint-heir with Christ.”
Through His blood shed for me on Calvary, I was finally set free from the bondage of sin that had enslaved me. I now have the assurance that God had adopted me into His royal family to be a joint-heir with Christ.

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption…The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.” (Romans 8:15-17) I no longer want to control my own life, or do things to feel good about myself. True repentance brings about the right motives for how we live for Christ. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this self-same thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge!” (2 Corinthians 7:10-11)

After reading this testimony of what God has done in saving me, you will react in one of two ways. One, you are rejoicing with me for the gift of salvation that I have received since you too have experienced this radical transformation in your life. Or two, the testimony that I shared will cause confusion in your heart, or perhaps a heaviness in your heart because you have not experienced this very special working of God in your life. If you are rejoicing, please pray for me as I continue to grow in the Lord. If you are not rejoicing, but find yourself without understanding of what has truly happened in my life, go back through and read the verses that I have shared with you with an open heart and mind asking the Lord to show you the truth about yourself. This is not a change you can bring about in yourself. It is something that only the Lord Jesus Christ can do.