Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Truth Set Me Free!

My friend Alan chuckled and said to me, “You’re searching for Jesus.”

You see, I had been raised as a Roman Catholic, and even been an altar boy for many years as a child until I was a teenager, but had lived a life of sin; and now as an infantryman in the US Army, I was living only for myself to satisfy my own pleasures.  I had been abusing alcohol and drugs since the age of thirteen, and was living a wild and immoral nightlife.  In addition to that, I had befriended another soldier whose name like mine was Leonard, who was teaching me all about the religion he was raised in, which was Buddhism.  I was fascinated by Leonard's Buddhist "sphere of analysis," as he called it, which said that God was perfectly good and perfectly evil, and that Jesus and satan are brothers.  I had been sharing these things with my friend Alan, when he told me I was searching for Jesus.

“I’m not searching for Jesus,” I replied. I had gone to church all my life and been raised to believe in Jesus. I had my own Bible and at times had read portions of it. I could recite church creeds that I had learned as a child. I even prayed sometimes. How could I be searching for Jesus? I didn’t yet realize that there is a vital difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus.

Yet Alan saw the emptiness and confusion within me. He said, “Don’t take my word for it, Len. Do you have a Bible?”

“Sure I do,” I replied.

“Well, then blow the dust off of it and start reading it. But before you do, pray and ask God to show you the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth.”

So I did. If what I had believed was not true, then I wanted to know it. I began reading the New Testament of my Bible, praying that God would show me the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I was sure that God would not allow me to be deceived, if I asked Him for the truth. During that time, I came to understand what Jesus meant when He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father, except by me.” (John 14:6) I knew that I could come to God the Father only through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It would not be through any other person, dead or alive, that I would come to God. It would not be through any angel. Nor would it be through my church membership or sacrifices.

At that time, I also became convicted of my sin. Though I was only 19 years old, a young soldier in the US Army, I was in bondage to addictive behaviors and substances that were destroying my life. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Yet God didn’t condemn me. Instead He shined His light on the darkness in my heart, showing me my need to be reconciled with Him.

God’s Word told me that He loved me and had sent His Son to die for me on the cross, in order to pay the price for my sin. His Word told me that Jesus rose from the dead and is now seated at God’s right hand in heaven. The Bible also told me that by believing in Jesus, I would find a personal relationship with God. I believed God’s Word to be true.

Len shining his combat boots
So I called upon Jesus, asking Him to forgive me of my sin, and to set me free from the bondage in which I was living. I turned from the way I had been living and surrendered my life to Jesus. I asked Him to cleanse my heart of the filth that was there, and He did. That was February 13, 1986, and I still remember the day.  It was like God ran to me, lifted my face, wiped the tears from my eyes, put my head to His chest, and said, "Son, don't you know I still love you?" He removed the shame and guilt that had been there. I invited Him to come and live inside my heart, and He did. He forgave me, and took up residence within me. I experienced true peace in my heart for the first time, and exchanged my bondage for His freedom to live righteously.

For the first time in my life, I was glad to be alive. When I heard the birds singing, I knew they were praising my Lord. When I looked at the grass, it seemed greener. The sky seemed bluer. Everything was in technicolor. I now had hope. I had a personal sense of His love for me, and His presence with me. I also knew that I would now spend all eternity with the Living God, because I had been put in right standing with Him through the sacrifice of His Son.

He began to set me free of my addictive behaviors, and I was so glad. No longer was I weighed down by the heavy burden of my sin. Instead I had a new joy in my heart that my friends could see. This was not the momentary kind of happiness that I had experienced in the past. It was a lasting joy that I continued to experience, even through trials and difficulties. In fact, I still continue to experience that joy today.

In case you don’t already know it, this is God’s plan for you too. He loves you and sent His only Son to die on the cross for you. “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and only son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Jesus paid the price for your sin, so you don’t have to pay the price. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8) It is a gift that you must accept simply by faith.

Will you turn from your sin and surrender to Him? Ask Him to forgive you for every sin you ever committed. Sin is simply anything you’ve done in disobedience to Him. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Ask Him to come live inside your heart. Do you believe that He rose from the dead? If you do, then let Him into your heart. “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

If what you believe is not true, wouldn’t you want to know? Perhaps you’re questioning these things, and thinking this is just another man’s interpretation of the Bible. Let me challenge you to do as I did. Open the Bible and read it for yourself. Ask God to show you the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You can be sure that God will not lead you into deception, if you are sincerely asking Him for the truth. “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” (John 4:23).

It doesn’t matter what kind of life you’ve been living. No matter what you’ve done, there is forgiveness for you and salvation for you today. “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) I want to encourage you to open the door of your heart and let Jesus in. I did, and He changed my life. Jesus set me free!

Attribution notice: Most other Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV®, unless otherwise noted.

Author's Note: I also recommend reading My Journey from Buddhism to New Life in Christ and The Lord Healed My Backsliding. You are invited to view my collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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