I am thanking God today for my new birth in Christ and and 33 years of victory over the devil. I have a new life, a new heart; I am a new creation in Christ Jesus. I was born into the family of God in August of 1982. I spent my first 19 years not knowing God at all. I was person that was hostile to Christ. Of late, God has brought back to my mind my old life, how bad off I used to be and it only makes me rejoice about the change in my life today. My old life is passed away—gone. The scripture talks of walking in the “newness of life”. When you go to the store and they say something is new, you expect that it has not been used by anyone else; it is fresh from the factory. If you found out you’d bought a used product that you thought was new, you would take it back. I would. New means new. I’ve never been disappointed in this new beginning; this second chance at life that God gives.
A new life is not something that can be manufactured or imitated or created by turning over a new leaf, it is a gift that is given through repentance and the blood of Jesus Christ.
As I said, I was hostile to Christ. If someone were passing out bible tracts, I would purposely go the other way, because I thought they were silly. I did not want to talk with anyone about God or hear any of their testimonies—waste of time to me—“embarrassing fanatics”, I would say to myself. Christ was not real in my family, and church was used as a social network for up and coming black professionals like my parents. Even though my mom would often use the term, “the Lord will provide” I can’t remember ever seeing a bible in our home. My understanding of God was that it was something the good doctor put into his politically-themed sermons to make people realize they were in church. We were well off financially and highly educated and certainly didn’t seem to need him much. My parent groomed my sister and me for the life of highly educated black folk. We were sent to the best schools in world. But my life was still empty.
There was a young girl I went to high school with who was saved in the next block. One day I was riding my bike on a Sunday morning. She yelled out to me, “You should be in church, Renee.” She was right– but “how dare she” was my attitude, “It’s none of her business what I do with my time”. I did not want to talk about God, period. With all my education, I styled myself as an agnostic to give myself some philosophical credibility about my belief in God.
One summer, my sister had gotten saved when we were both teenagers and she used talk to me about the bible and quoted scriptures. My father, as usual, had little use for religion and would just roll his eyes and give the “crazy” sign and shake his head. I hated being around her when she started talking about God, I would get angry and go to my usual hide out—my room. One day I was so angry, about something she said, I was in tears. God said to me, “Why do you hate me? Why do you hate being around your sister?” I couldn’t answer these question as I lay there in my bed, with tears in my eyes. Why didn’t I like being around her? She had not really done anything wrong? I did not realize it at the time, but the Word of God she was using was shining the light on my sins, sins I was not willing to repent about and wanted to keep.
I told God that night that I had things I wanted to do. I was 16 and didn’t want to stop doing sinful stuff because it was fun and well that would be embarrassing to be a “holy roller”, as they used to call them back in the day. I turned God down that day, and rolled over in my bed crying. However, in the next three years my life went downhill. Things got worse and not better. I did things I said I would never do and went places in my heart and in my life, I said I would never go. The devil took away my moral resolve and any integrity that I thought I had. I was embarrassed about some of the people I was hanging around in college, drug dealers and users (some medical students started their pharmacy classes early if you know what I mean). I was educated but full of sin.
Sometimes, people think they will be embarrassed by being so dedicated to God, but I realized the devil was the one really embarrassing me. The more I followed my own ways and did what I wanted to do, the more stupid mistakes I was making, and bad moves in my personal life. I was definitely not getting closer to God at all even though at one point I called myself trying to “get some religion”. Often people think that just because they have made some good decisions and done some good things that everything is spiritually alright. This is not always the case. We need to look into the Bible and see how God feels about how we are living, not our own assessment.
So, I struck a deal with God, which you really can’t do on equal terms, but to make myself feel better “Ok. I’ll start going to church, Lord. I may even get baptized again”, which I promptly did, if you show my how to live right. There was church down the street from my house. I walked in and told them I wanted to get baptized again, because I thought that would solve this problem between me and God. You see, I grew up in house full of lies and was taught to lie from an early age, so it was really nothing for me to lie to myself. “Ok, so now that I’m baptized, I’m a Christian right?” Wrong! “Now that I am a member of a fine upstanding church and joined a few clubs, I’m ok now”. Wrong again. God was so merciful and patient with me. I did not have Christ, but he protected my life in this unsaved, deceived state I was in, thinking I had done a great job by joining church. God just gently started to deal with me over the next 2 years that there was more to salvation than church attendance.
I started to look around me one Sunday and the choir was rockin’ and the church was beautiful and preacher fiery but I was still not saved. God began to bring to my mind one question that kept bugging me “how do you live holy?” I would ask people who were long standing members at church and they would say “I don’t know what you’re looking for, no one is perfect”. So I started to figure there was not much more, but I could not really believe that this is all there was to serving God because on the inside, I was not satisfied with my life. Oh yeah, that little thing called “sin”. I was still sinning whenever I felt like it away from church, a WHOLE LOT I had just become a religious sinner.
One day, in desperation, I asked God was there anyone really living right and God and could he please let me meet them? God answered my prayer. I met a girl in college who was truly saved, she put me in contact with a great independent church in the Hyde Park area where the minister actually taught people how to repent, change your life and stay that way. After hearing all these scriptures, my sins suddenly seem to take on heavier weight. I was in my room at home, by myself and I told God that I was tired of being shackled by my sins. As I sat on the bed, God told me “I’ll keep you free from sin”. Then the Lord showed me two scriptures I did not know were in the bible. IJohn 3:8-9
He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.
and I John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I finally yielded to God at that moment, repented of my past life and sins and God forgave me and I knew I was forgiven. He gave me this new life and I have been living for Christ ever since then. Not once did I ever have to go back to my old life, old sins, old drug using acquaintances. God cleansed me and gave me power to live right and say no to wrong. He took away from me that awful spirit of lying that I had so much trouble with, and He will do the same for whatever sins follow you. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things are passed away, and behold all things are become new. Praise the Lord!