I had to choose, but I made the wrong choices.
This is Kevin’s story:
My story starts out much like many testimonies I have heard – I grew up in church. My Mom did everything she could to make sure I was in church virtually every time the doors were open. As a young boy I made my choice during the invitation at a revival service. My heart was racing and my stomach was tied in knots. I chose to literally hold on to the pew to keep from going forward to accept the free gift of salvation. The reason I resisted was because I knew there was no way I could follow all of the rules I had heard preached, and I was sure to lose all of my friends if I became a Christian. So, I made a choice to reject God and the salvation He was offering me.
The next thirty or so years of my life I desperately tried to make my life work while giving in to ever increasing levels of sinfulness.
Fast forward to 1997 when I followed god’s leading and made a “profession of faith” at a church in Meridian Mississippi and was “baptized.” Before I explain why I used a little “g” and put baptized in quotations, let me give some insight into my mindset through the use of the Triangle Tool found on page 167 of Desperate Dependency. For me, the foundational element in the validation of my identity was significance. To feel significant was to certainly be loved and secure. Therefore, I was in an endless pursuit of significance, and the means to that end was the worship of me. The more I could get people to talk about what a good person I was, how sweet I was, how hard of a worker I was, or to be attracted to me physically, the more significant I would feel.
My whole life became about using people, positions, and possessions to foster an atmosphere of Kevin worship, which allowed me to believe I was supremely significant. I lied and manipulated my way through life in a chameleon-like manner being who or whatever I needed to be in any given situation so as to maintain my sense of significance. I was my god! So when my wife, one of my main sources of significance, made a profession of faith in 1997, I knew the best way to maintain her worship (as I perceived it) of me was to also make a “profession of faith.”
Within a year or so we stopped attending church and the things of God became less important. Christianity was no longer a necessity in my ruse so I discarded it and continued living my life to the glory of Kevin. However, I believed that my “profession of faith” was enough to save me because I had no idea what authentic Christianity was. After all, our culture tells us that if you have repeated a prayer after a minister during a time of invitation, and really meant it, then you are saved.
In September of 2008 things drastically changed. My life of lies and manipulation was exposed, and I was almost as shocked as everyone else. I say that because I truly believed that all of the good things people had to say about me were true and that I was a man of integrity. I had not only deceived everyone around me, I had deceived myself simply because that was far easier than facing the truth. Having been exposed, I resorted again to manipulation and pretense, and consequently “re-dedicated” my life to the Lord in October 2008. Let me pause here to say that I no longer believe in “re-dedication.” It gives the idea that we can give our life to the Lord, take it back so that we may give ourselves to sin, and then give it back to the Lord again. This ideology is not found in the Scriptures.
Over the next year I would try frantically to convince my soon to be ex-wife and the men in my counseling groups that I was changing. As I think about that a picture comes to mind of a man in a musty, damp, medieval dungeon chained to a wall thrashing and jerking incessantly at his chains while screaming at the top of his lungs, “I am free! I am free! Why won’t you believe me?”
God, in His sovereignty, had brought me to a place where my lying, manipulating, and pretense no longer worked.
All of my efforts had made me weary, and I felt very defeated as I walked into one of Kirk’s men’s groups in September 2009. I had been unable to convince anyone that I was changing, and it had become clear that I was not going to get my wife back anytime soon, so I told Kirk that I was ready to quit group, quit trying to be different, and just go back to my old life, which seemed to be much easier. He told me that God had brought me to a definite decision point, a Matthew 16:24 decision point, and that it was crucial that I go home and make a decision, but if I were to choose Christ, He would forever change my life. That night as I thought about this decision, part of a passage of Scripture kept coming to mind, “choose this day whom you will serve.” I began to wonder what the rest of the passage said, so I looked it up and here is what I found.
Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.Joshua 24:14–15, NASB, emphasis added
From the time that I rejected Christ as a young boy until that night in 2009, I had been given to the service of other gods and it had become exponentially disagreeable in my sight to serve the Lord. That night brought me face to face with the reality that I did not want God in my life. That greatly disturbed me so I asked Jesus to forgive me, to be Lord of my life, and help me want to want Him in my life. Kirk was right; my decision, enabled by the enlightenment and power of the Holy Spirit, to choose Christ that night has forever changed my life!
The search for significance was over. Up until this point I had believed the lie that the worship of me would make me significant, yet no matter what people, positions, or possessions I used to try to manufacture significance, I always found myself empty and frantically searching for something or someone to complete me. As I allowed God to help me put Him in the “God place” of my life, He established a significance that never fails and is eternal. The source of my significance is found in the only person, the only position, and the only possession that can complete me.
- That person is Jesus Christ.
“…and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority…” (Col. 2:10 NASB)
- The position is that of His child.
“He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will…” (Eph. 1:5 NASB)
- The possession is His righteousness.
“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith…” (Phil. 3:8–9 NASB)
The most frightening part of my whole story began in 1997 when I made an empty profession of faith and believed I was eternally saved. That is the greatest lie Satan sells, and I fear many who sit in the pews of American churches have bought it hook, line, and sinker. It is why Paul admonished the Corinthians,
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?2 Cor. 13:5 NASB
How do we examine ourselves? It cannot be by looking within ourselves to determine the authenticity of our belief (i.e. whether or not we “really meant it” when we professed faith in Christ).
The Lord said in Jeremiah, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give to each man according to his ways, According to the results of his deeds.”Jer. 17:9–10 NASB
That is why David cried out to the Lord saying,
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”Ps. 139:23–24 NASB
So, how can we have assurance of eternal life? The apostle John, speaking of his first epistle, wrote,
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.”1 John 5:13 NASB
While authentic Christians will commit sins of immaturity, it is impossible for them to live in continuous, habitual rebellion to God. Living in rebellion to God while claiming to be a Christian based on a “profession of faith” is a lie.
What will you choose? Examine yourselves and make sure you are in the faith. The consequences are eternal and determine whether we are condemned to damnation or live unto salvation through the matchless grace of God.
Dear Jesus, I know that You came to take away my sins, and there is no sin in You. If I continue to live in You I will not sin. But if I keep on sinning it shows that I do not know You or understand who You are. Lord, I don’t want to be deceived. When I do what is right, it shows that I am righteous, even as You are righteous. But if I keep on sinning, it shows that I belong to the devil, who has been sinning since the beginning. You came to destroy the works of the devil. Those who have been born into Your family do not make a practice of sinning, because Your life is in them. So I can’t keep on sinning, because I am Your child. . . .1 John 3:5–9
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