My Life Before Christ
What most notably marked my life before Christ was the masquerading and laboring under one grand delusion. The grand delusion was that of my own inherent goodness. Growing up in Baltimore, I was surrounded by family and friends who would characterize me as a good person. They would portray me as such because I didn’t do what they considered all the classic big sins that the world frowned upon. I went to church regularly (although it had no bearing on how I lived), and I didn’t cause my mother trouble. In fact, I gave her great joy through various athletic and academic achievements. By their distorted standards I was labeled good and had a bright and promising future, but not by the only eternal standard that matters. While I lived life masquerading as a “good person” publicly, privately I lived life under the crushing weight of my own secret sins. I later learned that the Bible says in1 Samuel 16:7 that, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
How Christ Saved Me
God, who knew the truth all along, sent a Christian woman (Harlequin) into my life to share with me what God had done in her life and what His Word said about mine. This woman persisted in inviting me to church and sharing with me what the Bible says about sin and forgiveness. When I could no longer withstand her repeated requests to attend church, I conceded and joined her at a Thursday night Bible study. At the end of the study, I remembered thinking that the message was interesting, that these people were different, and that I would consider coming back. After several visits, I began to recognize that my biggest problem wasn’t what I thought it was. My biggest problem wasn’t that I didn’t have an ideal family life, a college degree, or a successful career. The biggest problem was my own sin; the fact that it separated me from a Holy God and that it guaranteed a place in hell for me if I didn’t receive the pardon and forgiveness that only Jesus Christ could offer. The Bible says,“nevertheless, knowing that a man is not justified [declared not guilty] by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus…” (Gal.2:16a).
This was bad news to me because I believed my own press. I kind of believed I was good. Neither I nor anyone else had checked with God to find out what His standard of goodness was or if those good deeds that I did, which were always tainted with sinful and selfish motives, were acceptable to God. The Bible says that “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment…” (Is.64:6a).Family and friends thought of me as a good person, but the Bible said something different. Luke 18:19 says, “…No one is good except God alone.”I further recognizedthatI had violated God’s perfect standard. I couldn’t possibly atone for my own sin, and, as a result, I was facing a horrible judgment. I increasingly began to understand that unless Itrusted in Christ and His atonement for my sin, I would go to hell if I died that day.“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom.6:23).
His Life in Me Since
I was no longer so comfortable in my deceitful pretense. God then began to reveal the good news. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The Bible also says in Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”I acknowledged the truth of my sin and my need for a rescue. I turned from my sin and place my faith in Christ. He graciously delivered me from my pseudo-goodness and all its attendant delusion. John 10:9a says, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved…”
My life since conversion has been marked by three things…
- Gratitude for a few people who didn’t feed my pride by telling my that I was good and that I was okay when later I discovered that I wasn’t
- An ever-deepening understanding of what Christ has done and gratitude for it especially amid my failures
- A greater awareness of how poorly I love Him and others and how I long to love Him more