Ephesians 2:1-3 “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”
On June 18th, 1990, something came alive in me that was never there before.
On that day, I received the free gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. God’s Holy Spirit came to indwell me, and I became a child of God. That new life and the unique presence of God began in me a journey, that, for these almost twenty-nine years, has been the most beautiful and blessed decisions I have ever made.
I often recall what I call my “BC” days – my “Before Christ” days. It reminds me of what I used to be, where I came from, and where I was headed had I not turned to Christ. It is in that remembrance that I can balance my pride.
When I think I have become this ‘somebody’, I remind myself what a nobody I still am and just Who it is that has made me what I am today. I can honestly say that any good you may see in me, is because of Who lives inside me. All the glory goes to God!
We all struggle with this thing called pride. It rears its ugly head at the least opportune moment and reveals a selfish, self-centered part of us we try to keep hidden.
The old Paul was impetuous, thrill-seeking, and I lived by the seat of my pants. I was always waiting for a good party, and all the pleasures this life affords. Marriage and fatherhood thrust me into responsibility for which I was ill prepared.
I had begun drinking around 14 or 15, and it only escalated as I aged. Alcohol had started to rule my life. I wanted, no, needed a drink to enjoy others company. I stopped on the way home from work and bought liquor to drink before arriving.
You would think a car crash, a DUI, and arrest would have awoken something in me. It scared me sober for six months. In that time, the devil deceived me into believing I could control my drinking and I returned to it only to find the hole was deeper, the bondage tighter and the consequences were sure to be fatal.
God intervened and sent one of His servants to rescue me from me.
In a 45-minute gospel presentation, I heard how I could be set free and need never fear the fires of Hell again. But something was standing in the way – my family’s religion.
I had grown up Catholic and was actually active in my church as a leader of about 15-20 people who played instruments and sang for our church service. I wasn’t satisfied. I was searching.
The decision I was facing was pitting my parent’s religion against Bible salvation. The difference was in who was providing the price needed to pay for my sin. My religion teaches it is Jesus PLUS my works that will take me to Heaven eventually, but, I needed to work to gain God’s favor.
There were promises of a middle ground – purgatory – that I could wind up and everyone could or would pray me out.
The message that the Word of God presented me was that Jesus Christ alone paid all of my sin debt on the cross, and my faith in Him would save my soul from eternal damnation. It had nothing to do with what I did.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
It all boiled down to who I could trust.
On the one hand, there was the church and its promises which seemed contradictory, and based upon my goodness which I already knew was tainted. I knew who I was and felt so undeserving of anything pure, perfect and holy that God could ever give.
On the other hand, Bible salvation. What it required of me was humble admittance of my need of a Savior; seeing myself as God saw me – a sinner. God’s pure justice placed a penalty on sin and demanded punishment and payment for my sin.
When the truth that Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection was the only acceptable payment for my sin broke through to my heart, I couldn’t reason or fight any longer. I must confess that the struggle took about two weeks to come to fruition.
I remember vividly that day, I trusted Jesus as my Savior.
I hadn’t slept much if at all the night before. Thoughts of a real Hell and that I knew I was headed there kept invading my sleep. I tossed and turned; unable to find rest. The alarm rang all too soon, and I was off to work.
By the afternoon break, light broke through. As I wrestled with the decision between my parent’s religion and Jesus Christ alone, I had to choose – fully, wholly, and totally. Both feet had to land squarely on one or the other.
When, in my heart, I left my parents religion and its promises behind, I was set free! I went outside and knelt underneath some bushes. There, I prayed;
“Lord, with what faith I have, I give it to you to trust Jesus as my Savior”.
God moved in that day and took possession of my soul. I was no longer a child of the devil, but, a child of God! My name would be forever in the Book of Life.
I need to remind myself just where it is I’ve come from.
A good friend, Bruce Frye, wrote a song called “That Was Me” you can listen here.