In my previous article, I talked about my transformation at age 14, when I gave my life to Jesus. I didn’t understand justification and sanctification; I just knew I’d been forgiven. But what about the things I continued to do? I was trying to be good, but I knew I still sinned sometimes. What did that mean? Was I saved or not?
I started asking youth leaders and pastors, but I didn’t find any answers. I thought I’d never know if I was saved until Jesus came. Then one day I read 1 John 5:13: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
I was excited. So you can know! But wait: “I write these things. . . .” What things? I quickly read the verses above it.
Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony . . . And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life (vv. 10-12).
Instead of making me feel better, this passage made me feel worse! I still didn’t know if I was saved or not, and now I had the added guilt that I was calling God a liar. Now what?
By age 30, I’d been struggling with this insecurity for sixteen years. During this time, I had made a few attempts to read through the Bible, but I always got stuck in Leviticus. I decided to get serious. I read through Leviticus and kept going. Then one day, getting ready for work, it hit me: I can know I’m saved because salvation doesn’t depend on my righteousness, but on Jesus’. That’s it!
It was so clear and simple. Why did it take me so long to understand? I realized that spending time in God’s Word opened my heart to receive awareness from the Holy Spirit. Like Martin Luther, I had tried to live up to God’s expectations, but the harder I tried, the angrier I became. How could a good God demand perfection from such a fallible creature as me? It wasn’t fair! But then the revelation came: “By grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).
The law is holy and good, but it demands perfection and reveals our sin (Romans 7:7-14). It cannot save, only condemn. Even though I had sincerely given my heart to Jesus at age 14, I was trying to live under the law. I still thought I needed to be good enough to be saved. Consequently, I had no security in my salvation and little joy in my worship. How could I be an effective witness for Jesus like this?
With a new awakening, I transcended law to grace. I transcended rules to a relationship. For the first time, I saw Jesus as my friend. His law no longer condemned me; it lived in my heart. Ever since that day, it’s been a joy to worship Him and to be used by Him in His work of rescue.