A NEW HEART AND A NEW SPIRIT
The obedient lifestyle that results in salvation and eternal life comes from a new heart and a new spirit.
In my case, I had been a Christian for 40 years before I had really fully repented. (I committed willful sin occasionally.) I was a Bible teacher; but was so blind that I couldn't see these words of John:
"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin ..." 1 John 3:9
I was not converted; not born-again and did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit. Satan was able to make me complacent about my dreadful spiritual condition because of the powerful spiritual gifts that were manifested in my life. I would have been among the many who called Jesus "Lord" but did not obey Him.
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity*." Matthew 7:21-23
Then, two questions changed my life:
1. Donna, do you really want to know the truth?
2. Donna, will you obey the truth --no matter what the cost?
My answer was a sincere "Yes" to both of those questions.
(Friend, Jesus told his disciples up-front to "count the cost." and I can tell you that if there is anything in this world that you love more than God --you will not be a Christian who overcomes temptation and receives eternal life. "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Revelation 2:7)
After I had made that full repentance, I wanted a whole new beginning and was baptized in water. It was like I was a little child who had to learn everything from the start. I put everything that I had learned in the apostate church-system to the test of the scriptures. At first, it was a frightful thing to question past spiritual miracles and experiences; but this verse gave me the confidence that I needed: "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1Thessalonians 5:21. My prayer to the Father was: I want to stand on the side of truth.
After my full repentance and baptism, I had become a new creation. In the time of temptation, I was no longer under the power of satan who was stronger than me. Praise God! I had been translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son.
Since I have been born of God, His commandments are not grievous to me --they are no longer on tables of stone, but are engraved upon the fleshly tables of my new heart. I can say:
"I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." Psa 40:8; Heb 10:9
Moment by moment, I rest upon the faithfulness of God. I trust Him to provide for my every need. For me to have victory over sin, my confidence is in the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. I must choose to obey; but I know that I will not be tempted beyond my strength, and that in the time of temptation, God will provide the way of escape.
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." 1 Corinthians 10:13
If I were to turn back now to commit willful sin, it would be a treacherous act of rebellion. I would never be able to repent again. I would have blasphemed the Holy Spirit:
"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." Hebrews 6:4-6
Friends, The difference between what my life was, --and what it is now, is that every choice that I make in any situation is to obey God's Commandments.
*iniquity = anomian = transgression of the law.