I was blessed to grow up in a genuine Christian home. From childhood, I was instructed by both of my parents about the truth of the Bible. They also were a great example to me, as they lived consistent, Christian lives. They taught me that I needed to be born again to be a child of God. They told me often of what God had done in their lives and how He led them to salvation in Jesus Christ, truth to which I was tender-hearted.
A week before my 13th birthday, during a preaching service at our church, the Holy Spirit convicted my heart of my own need of salvation. I responded to the invitation and prayed a “salvation” prayer. I wanted to know Christ and be saved, but did not understand, at that time, the work the Lord had yet to do in my heart.
Throughout my teen years, I always considered this to be my salvation experience. Whenever I was pressed about my relationship with God, I would tell others I was “saved.” Sadly, saying those words was all the deeper my relationship with God went, for I did not truly know the Lord. My busy life and love for myself kept me occupied so I didn’t take the time to consider the things of God. It was natural and easy for me to deny the real work God was trying to do in my heart; I just kept spiritual truth on a superficial level. I could do this because I loved my sin, consistently following my sinful heart, yielding to the cravings of my sin nature. The only discomfort I felt about my sin was over being caught. If that happened, I would temporarily “reform,” but soon went back to my old ways. I had never been made “new,” as the Bible describes one who has been truly saved.
Thankfully, the Lord didn’t leave me alone. When I began to listen to preaching and give thought to spiritual matters, God made me uncomfortable with my sin. At first, when confronted by my sinfulness, I resorted to my old profession: I had already been “saved,” so I wasn’t supposed to be uncomfortable or questioning my salvation! Did I just need to rededicate my life to God? Did I need to be baptized (the Bible commands genuine believers to baptized and join a scriptural, local church)? Or, as the Holy Spirit eventually made plain, did I need to experience real salvation?
The day the confusion ended was October 11th, 2009. That morning, I was under more conviction of my sinful condition than I can ever remember. The preacher invited people to come to Christ. When God pricked my heart, showing me my need, I resisted, as I had so many times before. It was far too humbling to walk in front of everyone and openly admit that I was lost and unsaved. That afternoon, having turned my back on God, I turned again to my sin for satisfaction and comfort. If there was any doubt in my mind as to whether or not I was truly saved, now it was very obvious. I loved my sin, and I now fully understood that if I ever was to be saved, I would need to humble myself, lay aside my pride, repent of (change my mind about) my wicked life, and submit to the Lord.
The ride to church that night was especially sobering. I knew that if I died in my lost condition I would spend eternity in a devil’s hell. I really began to question if my sin was worth that! When I arrived at church, everyone around me seemed to be joyful, while all I could think about was how hopeless and lost–how enslaved to my sin–I truly was. That evening, the preacher got up and preached from Luke, chapter 15, about the prodigal son. I fully realized how sinful I was; God had been so merciful to me, despite my rejection of Him. I had a Christian upbringing with many opportunities to hear and respond to the truth, yet I was living for myself and my sin, without fear of God’s judgment.
That evening, I was willing to turn my back on all of it: my sin, my pride, my plans, anything that prevented me from knowing God in salvation. I simply needed to respond to God’s dealing in my heart and life in repentance and faith. That evening, I called upon the Lord to save me. The moment I believed God’s promise concerning eternal life through Jesus Christ, and repented of my sins, He saved me and made me a new person.
Now, things are much different. I don’t have that same love for myself and my sin that I once did. To me, Jesus Christ is so much more special than any momentary or fleeting pleasure this world can offer. God gave me the desire and ability to forsake the sins that had enslaved and defeated me. Pleasing Jesus Christ, my Saviour, is so much more important than pleasing myself. I am so thankful I am saved!