I am so thankful that the Lord has delivered me from who I was, and continues to deliver me from who I struggle with being.
1 Cor 6:9-11 contains one of my favorite warnings (did I mention that I find them exciting?), as well as a reason to be supremely thankful:
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."
The Spirit says we are not to be deceived: the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom. If we are walking in Christ, though, and have trusted Him for salvation, we have been and are being washed, set apart (sanctified), and justified (made right with God) by the blood of the Lamb and by His Spirit. Praise God!
Part of my testimony comes from my wild past. People who meet me now are shocked to know a little bit of what I participated in before Jesus. I mention it not to glorify anything from the past, but to marvel at how the Lord so completely cleanses and delivers. I used to pepper many of my sentences with expletives; I took drugs; I did not keep myself pure (to put it mildly), and in fact despised purity when I saw it in others.
But that girl is dead, and God has raised me to new life.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Holiness is so beautiful, in part because I know how incapable I am of being holy on my own. When I "strive to enter the narrow gate" (Luke 13:24), it is not through works that are of the flesh, but a striving that comes from the Spirit within. It is Christ in me that is the hope of glory! But it manifests in transformation, personal transformation that I could not effect by myself. It is not silent or invisible.
Back in those dark days--the first months of my collegiate life--I hit bottom through a set of circumstances that showed me clearly what my life had become. I cried out to Jesus, because in my filth I knew of only One who could clean me up.
Obviously, I am not perfect now. I struggle, I stumble. But God has changed me so much. The same girl who used to spew profanity...doesn't. The girl who was so defiled was made new. I felt new and clean, and I knew only God could do that. I lost friends; some started calling me "Virgin Mary" because they knew that now I was chaste. I took it as a high compliment (though, of course, it was an epithet to them) and rejoiced that they did see a difference.
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is.
The Surgery, Part One
3 years ago