Since I have given myself to Christ and became a true follower of Jesus, the main question I get is “are you the same person?” My simple answer is No, I am not the same person but below I will try to explain in detail how and why.
For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. – Romans 6:4 NLT
BC – Before Christ
I believed in God and knew that Jesus came down to earth in order to die for our sins. I didn’t understand why that had to happen but I had heard all the popular bible stories and knew what people had told me. I didn’t understand how that applied to me now on earth but I did understand it had something to do with what happen to me after I died.
You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you!
Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. – James 2:19 NLT
I wanted to be a good person and understood the difference between right and wrong based on what my parents and adults in my life had taught me. When I did something really bad I would feel bad and tell people sorry, yet most of the time I would do it again. Then I would start with the self-pity and think that it is just the way I am and that as much as I wanted to be a good person, I am not. I would blame others for my behavior stating that they made me do/say it, I never took responsibility for my mistakes and that it was something I couldn’t control. It’s just who I was, God made me that way and I believed He created all things so He meant to make me that way.
“My people are foolish and do not know me,” says the Lord. “They are stupid children who have no understanding. They are clever enough at doing wrong, but they have no idea how to do right!” – Jeremiah 4:22 NLT
I wanted what I wanted, when I wanted it, how I wanted it and I hurt a lot of people in doing so. I cared about earthly possessions, I idolized materialistic things and thought that if something happened to my house, car, career that my life would be over and not worth anything. I cared about what other people said or thought about me and I would do anything to make sure I put up a good front to impress people, even putting myself in so much credit card debt that I had to claim bankruptcy by the time I was 26.
But my people have stubborn and rebellious hearts. They have turned away and abandoned me. They do not say from the heart, ‘Let us live in awe of the Lord our God, for he gives us rain each spring and fall, assuring us of a harvest when the time is right.’ Your wickedness has deprived you of these wonderful blessings. Your sin has robbed you of all these good things. – Jeremiah 5:23-25 NLT
I would party, get drunk and I thought it was fun. I would say a curse word and never even flinch. I listened to music that was negative, degrading, and disrespectful. I would watch movies or shows that when it expressed more sarcasm, argumentative conversations and hateful confrontations the more I thought it was funny and made me feel better about myself. I would always think, well at least I am not THAT bad or THAT way?!?!
The shepherds of my people have lost their senses. They no longer seek wisdom from the Lord. Therefore, they fail completely, and their flocks are scattered. – Jeremiah 10:21 NLT
I would flirt and seek attention from others so that I felt needed and wanted. My marriage had become empty on the inside but had the pressure of looking perfect on the outside. I felt alone and didn’t know how to communicate with my husband, or anyone for that matter. How I felt didn’t matter and nobody would understand anyway so I just kept living day to day. My marriage felt hopeless and like there was no way to get it back to a happy marriage. There was too much resentment and bitterness so there was no turning back. (if you want more details on this subject, please see my Marriage Miracle blog post)
“‘Clean up your act—the way you live, the things you do—so I can make my home with you in this place. Don’t for a minute believe the lies being spoken here—“This is God’s Temple, God’s Temple, God’s Temple!” Total nonsense! Only if you clean up your act (the way you live, the things you do), only if you do a total spring cleaning on the way you live and treat your neighbors, only if you quit exploiting the street people and orphans and widows, no longer taking advantage of innocent people on this very site and no longer destroying your souls by using this Temple as a front for other gods—only then will I move into your neighborhood. Only then will this country I gave your ancestors be my permanent home, my Temple. – Jeremiah 7:3-7 MSG
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, – 1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT
Growing in a Relationship with Jesus
When I was 34 I started going to church and the Sunday sermons made me feel so much better, at least until I pulled out of the parking lot. It didn’t take long for my thoughts and actions to turn back to negative and feeling empty. I kept going back to church and if they would have let me, I would have moved in to that building. I thought church is what was making me feel better.
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. – 1 Peter 2:2-3 NIV
After a while I found myself wanting/needing more than just the Sunday message. My husband and I were baptized and we started volunteering. It was amazing, I felt like I was contributing to something so much bigger and better than me. I was still trying to be a better person and live the way I was supposed to (based on what the Pastor said on Sunday mornings) but every time I would mess up, I still wondered what was wrong with me and why I couldn’t get it right. I started thinking that there was no way I could ever be anything like Jesus so why even try, I was just setting myself up for failure.
When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey
my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. – John 15:10 NLT
The Lord looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any
who understand, any who seek God. – Psalms 14:2 NIV
Then a friend from church invited us to join them in a bible study that was learning about the New Testament. I was so nervous because I had never read the bible before and still only knew what other people had told me (including on Sunday mornings). This was the first time that I tried reading the bible and I jumped in the middle of this small group bible study that had only a few weeks left. Once it was completed, I found myself wanting to continue reading and I knew I wouldn’t do it on my own. So my husband and I started our own small group bible study and started reading/discussing the New Testament. It has been just short of a year and we are almost done with the entire bible.
The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. – Lamentations 3:25 ESV
Some people can tell you the date/time that they accepted Christ and became a new person. Everyone’s journey is different and that is ok. I didn’t “feel” like a new person until I started reading and understanding the Bible. For me I had to understand the why’s to be able to truly accept Jesus and what He offers us.
AD – After Death
After I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and was baptized, the “old” me died. A new me was born with Christ. That is why you hear Christians say that we have conquered death through Jesus. We died with him on the cross, He paid the price for every sin that we have already committed and for every sin we will ever commit in the future. When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior then we begin to live our life in Christ and even though our human bodies will die one day, our soul has already died and been resurrected with Christ and will continue to live through Christ for eternity.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person.
The old life is gone; a new life has begun! – 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
I do not live for me and my human desires, I now live for Christ and to obey and follow His every command. In order to do that I stay in His word daily and I pray just as if I am speaking to my best friend. If I go a few days without reading the bible and/or do not pray, it gives Satan the perfect opportunity to grab a hold of my human desires/thoughts and try to convince me that God is mad at me for not spending time with him. It will not work, I will always turn back to God, running as fast as I can to repent and continue to grow closer to Him.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. – Acts 2:38 NIV
and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—
not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.
It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, – 1 Peter 3:21 NIV
You may see me have a drink but I will never again get drunk.
I don’t talk the way I use to but I may slip up and say a word that I shouldn’t say.
I do not listen to the same music or watch the same types of movies/shows.
I am not as negative with my thoughts and speech.
I am more patient, I have more compassion, I think of others more.
My desires have now changed. I desire to feel closer to my Creator in every way. I desire for Him to use me to make a difference to others. I pray that He will use me to be His light to this very dark world, let His will be done, my life is His.
He must become greater; I must become less. – John 3:30 NIV
It was not easy at first, it goes against my human nature. But the more I read the bible and understand who God is and how much He loves me, it makes obeying Him so much easier and it is now my life’s purpose to do so. Being more like Jesus has become the most important thing to me in my heart, so I have found it easier to live in obedience to God.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and
godly lives in this present age, – Titus 2:11-12 NIV
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
There is no law against these things! – Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
Will I still sin? Of course I will, I am still a sinner and still human but the more I stay in God’s word and in a close relationship with Him, the easier it is to live in righteousness. Think about the movies, music, people we hang out with and pay attention to how those people/things influence us and effect the way we think and act. I have to live very intentional now, because my flesh is very weak and will give into sin if I am not on guard and protected by God’s word and the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is always guiding me but the more I feed my flesh with corrupt things, the more I ignore the Spirit and give into my earthly desires, which leads to emptiness, selfishness, sin and death.
Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.
The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. – Mark 14:38 NIV
The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the
way of the wicked leads them astray. – Proverbs 12:26 NIV
God made all of us to have a personal relationship with Him and to live with Him for eternity. We think short term (the years we are here on this earth) and try to make ourselves happy with the things of this world but when you look long term (for eternity) you will see that the only thing that will make us happy is the love of God.
In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me
wholeheartedly, you will find me. – Jeremiah 29:12-13 NLT
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will
give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth,
whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.
You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” – John 14:15-17 ESV
Challenge: I beg you that if you see me doing/saying something that is NOT good, call me out on it and hold me accountable. As Christians we should do this more and expect each other to do this. Satan and this world is very powerful and if we truly love and care about each other, we need to protect each other from it and help each other stay on the narrow road to eternity with God.
Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin,
you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.
And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself.
You are not that important. – Galatians 6:1-3 NLT
Something to think about:
Try to think of a world that if we followed the below 2 commandments, how different our lives would be?
- Love God (put God first above all others/things, even your spouse and children)
- Love Others (no matter what, even ISIS)
***If we kept those 2 then the other 8 commandments would be easy to keep.
The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins,
and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be
rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their
own wickedness. But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey
my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. All their past
sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous
things they have done. – Ezekiel 18:20-22 NLT
I will leave you with one of my favorite chapters in the Bible:
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace. Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you. Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living. Because of the weakness of your human nature, I am using the illustration of slavery to help you understand all this. Previously, you let yourselves be slaves to impurity and lawlessness, which led ever deeper into sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right. And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom. But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:1-23 NLT