Growing up, we read the scriptures and were taught many moral ways. Many people thought I was a good person, and so did I, even though I lied, cheated, stole, and was a selfish, ambitious person. However, at times the Lord would greatly convict me over my lack of heart- desire for obedience to God’s ways while listening to an audio-Bible that my dad played often. I loved the world.
Taught to say the sinner’s prayer and believe I was saved because I had a mental ascent to Jesus being God, I felt I was saved, even while I loved my life and was not loving a crucified life (John 12:25, I John 2:15-16).
Around the age of 12 my parents divorced and I went to a private school. For the first time I was exposed much more to open sin. At length, God began to show me the vanity of my life. I considered suicide but was afraid that if there really was a hell, that I didn’t want to go there. I began to wonder if what I had grown up hearing was really true — that the Bible is the infallible word of God, that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of mankind, fully God and fully man. How did I know the Bible was really true? In my despair, I hoped there really was a sovereign, all powerful God, and that everything was ordained by him. If this was not true, life had no point.
Searching for answers, I began to read the Bible from Genesis, and began to find my condition worsened as I read the holiness of God’s law in Exodus. Troubled about my soul and my eternal destiny, I turned to the local pastors and those I esteemed to be godly, but sadly they gave my soul a false peace (Jer 23:14) and patted me on the back while I was continuing on in unrepentant sin in my life and had never had genuine, authentic faith in Jesus! These “pastors” could not help me because they themselves were servants of corruption. No one dealt truly and faithfully with my soul.
I became somewhat esteemed as a godly young man because of my increasing convictions and Bible reading. I was flattered and also believed myself to be truly saved, even though I had no peace. I was living in sins I knew were wrong, yet I had no freedom from sin, no peace that passeth understanding, no joy unspeakable and full of glory, no experiences of my soul being filled with the glory of God.
In my college years, God began to increasingly trouble my conscience. I was going to a school where having a career and success in the world were promoted and esteemed. But my parent’s words about dedicating me to the Lord to be a missionary haunted me. Was I on the right career path? Christ told his disciples to forsake their nets. They lived by faith, but I did not!
It was in this time that I came to meet the first true Christians that were right with God that I know of. I remember beholding their zeal for God’s word, yet also their joy. It was the first time I saw true holiness lived-out in real humans on earth. I could never be the same!
One day, I confessed to one of these men, who is also named Sean, and who is now one of my pastors, sin that I lived in. He soberly told me something no one else had ever said: my struggles with sin were not the experience of a true Christian.
Shocked and near offended, I went to the Bible to see if what he told me was true: that I was not a true Christian. I tried harder to meet with God, rose up earlier to have devotional time, prayed more, tried to abstain more from sin — yet my lack of peace only increased. Could what he said be true?
I remember the day the Lord revealed to my soul the truth of his words. One day I was reading Romans 6:16-17:
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.”
And the scales fell off my eyes: whatever happened to the Roman believers that Paul is thanking God for — this sudden, miraculous, instantaneous change wherein in one moment they were servants of unrighteousness, and the next moment, through faith in the word, they became servants of righteousness — this miraculous change had never happened to me, in all my religiosity and Bible reading and attempts to live godly.
Truly, for the first time in my life, I saw that I was the hell-deserving sinner that I was. I realized that all my seeking God had been seeking to come to God on some other terms other than just being a condemned, miserable, lost sinner in need of mercy.
And by his sovereign, miraculous, abundant grace to sinners, salvation came shortly after my soul was truly humbled before a holy God as to my hopeless condition. God saved the helpless!
I have since left all my career plans and ambitions behind to embrace the call of God upon my life to be a missionary with my beloved wife, Sunshine, and our four children.