I grew up believing in Christ’s death on the cross for my sins. My parents weren’t Christians but they sent me to a school which inundated me with preaching from the Bible and I loved it. I prayed for salvation in second grade with my favorite teacher but I knew in my heart I had already believed for years. Every week of my life I pleaded with my mom and dad that they also would accept Him, believe in Him, and receive the free gift of eternal life in heaven instead of their inevitable eternity in hell. As an adult I went on to work in the very same Christian school which taught me about Jesus. A couple years later, at a new nanny job, I almost got fired for preaching to and praying with the kids in my care. I went on a short-term mission trip to Sierra Leone to dig a well and share the gospel. I started a ministry to ladies having abortions. Faithfully week after week I showed up to guide these women and their family’s to Christ centered help in hopes that they might receive Christ as their savior. I knew Jesus was the only way to heaven and I knew He would forgive anything... All because I believed He was constantly forgiving me.
You see I was steeped in sin. I needed sin just to get through the day. My eternity was saved through Christ (so I thought) but my life was upheld through sin. The preacher told us if we claim Christ how could we not have read the very book which we based our life on? “Good idea,” I thought, and I read the Bible cover to cover. The preacher would emphasize church attendance... “Good idea,” I thought, and I faithfully showed up. The preacher would give a challenge to pray more. “Good idea,” I thought, and I prayed and prayed until I soon forgot to. “Read this or that devotional every morning,” the preacher would say and so I did until I got too busy. I wanted to live for Christ because I believed He had the best for me and yet I was unwilling to give up my idols for Him.
I lived a lie... A lie I didn’t know I was living. It was all trash. Every moment I believed in God I idolized the world. I never put God first. Everything was me, me, me. I needed my horrendous sins because I was empty. I never saw Gods law as freedom, it was the unattainable drudgery beneath my feet which I had to trample over in order to get to my true gods, my sin. It was a thorn in my side. It was a reminder of all that I wasn’t able to be because sin was my true god. What a discrace I was as I reveled in myself while proclaiming Christ as my savior. All that work I was so proud of was done in rebellion to God. It was the propping up of a dead person. Dead in sin. A dead and lifeless rebel.
I only bring up the ‘good’ works I performed to show how lost and useless I truly was. Everything I did, I did for myself and the selfish desire to save from hell those who I put before God... And no one ever rebuked me! No one ever told me that if I had been born again the fruit of the God who lives inside would never allow this disgrace. If I am an image bearer of God himself, a temple of the Holy Spirit, and a new creature He wouldn’t dare bring this shame to His glory. No one ever told me that to live is to die. To be born again I must lay down my very self for the most unworthy privilege of gaining Christ.
I thought I was saved. I thought I loved God. I wanted the world to know, “Christ is the only way to heaven!” “He loves you!” I proclaimed. “Accept salvation!” I’d plead. All the while He was never enough for me. God had a place in my heart along side all the idols of my world. He shared me with the things and people that I truly needed and used to get through my days. But Christ didn’t want a place in my heart, He wanted me to give up my heart in order that He might give me a new one. Christ was not my ruler. He was never sufficient for me. I longed after the world, I needed it to make me feel whole... a mere place holder for God. I had no idea that I lived a lie. I thought I could try harder and live better with His help in me but I never had His help. I was empty, separated from the Father, relentlessly adding to the shame and pain Jesus bore on the cross with my outlandish sins. I used God for heaven and used the things of this world for my life. I was dead and had no idea that a Holy God doesn’t share. I struggled day after day, year after year to live up to my calling as a perceived child of God all the while certain of my salvation; All the while dead in my sins. I believed Christ died for my sake yet I was unwilling to die to my sins for His sake. I took the part of the gospel that told me, “Christ did all the work and now you’re free,” but I neglected the part of the gospel which required my very life. I didn’t know.
I didn’t know until He came and asked of me my life...
I had spent another year in total rebellion to God. I was exhausted. I was praying and He came. I felt Christ tell me to lay down my sin and walk in obedience to Him. I said, “I can’t. I need........” But Christ spoke so clearly to me saying, “I am sufficient for you.” He brought to my mind the moment before he was taken away to die. He was praying and asked His disciples, His friends, to stay awake, to stay alert, and to pray for His sake. But each time He came back, Christ found them asleep. Three times He pleaded for their faithfulness but three times He found them asleep, all just moments before He willingly laid down His life for them. Christ reminded me that just as His Heavenly Father was sufficient for Him, so He is sufficient for me in my hardest struggle. Nothing is a more firm hand to hold than that of Christ Himself. As Christ had His Father when all else failed in some of His darkest moments, so also I had to lay down my hope in the things of this world and put my life in the hands of Christ alone. I’ve never regretted turning from my sin and resting in Him as Lord.
He convicted my heart with truth found in His word, and how very grateful I am that He did. There’s nothing in this world we need if we have Christ, and nothing in this world to desire if God has given us a new heart. And so I laid it all down for the blessed privilege of picking Him up. The truth I now know is that all my sins, my copping idols, were trash in comparison to the joyful treasure of being filled with the Holy Spirit. The difference then and now is the Holy Spirit. Every desire in my flesh is selfish sin leading to death but every desire of the Holy Spirit is righteousness leading to life for His own glory. Before I would seek Him and try to desire what He calls us to do. Now, I couldn’t escape His desires for holiness if I tried. It’s all His supernatural work in me. Through Christ I have what this world can never offer (and I’ve searched). It’s a peace that passes understanding... It’s enduring this world, with joy, for the reward set before me... It’s an eager expectation that one day I will rid myself of this flesh which would dare inflict pain on Christ and shame on my Holy Holy Holy LORD. My hope is complete. I rest secure in the outcome of my repentance and faith through Christ Jesus, who has called me out of darkness and into His light. I am a new creature now and I can’t get enough of Him. He who is finally alive in me draws me to Himself. Nothing is work anymore. To know Him more and more is my very water, food, and breath. I, in myself, am a faithless failure but He in me is life abundant. This is freedom...to know my purpose (the daily, joy-filled, glorification of our Lord) and to have already attained the goal of my faith (my undeserved home in heaven as I praise Him forever).
Holy God you are more than sufficient. All blessing and honor and glory to my Father, my Savior, my King.