I will never forget Diane. She was so sweet yet so discouraged. It was with little hope that she approached me for a solution to her problem. As far as she could see, her Christian experience was at an end with no possible recourse, but her husband urged her to attend one of my seminars and give the Lord another chance. Part way through the series of meetings, she asked if she might have a few minutes of my time. I could see that she was deeply troubled. Without hesitation, I stepped aside with her. This is what she said:
A few weeks ago I attended a series of meetings. The speaker read certain scriptures and said that if a person was truly converted all his sin has been removed from the heart, and the true Christian will not sin as long as he remains born-again. If you do sin, that means either you never really were a Christian or that you are no longer converted. A truly converted person does not sin.
She continued, "When I heard this I was completely overwhelmed with feelings of despair. In all honesty I could not claim to be a true Christian. I had thought that I loved Jesus and that He had accepted me, but now I was certain that I had never really been converted.
Before I came to your meetings I had already decided that Christianity was not for me. But I know it is the truth and I determined to keep up the Christ lifestyle for my children's sake. Even if I can't make it, maybe they can, I told myself. But what you are presenting is not the same as what I heard in the other seminar. I am so confused. I don't know if I'm converted or not. Is there any hope for me?
I must say I was not surprised by Diane's struggle. Through the years I've met numerous other prisoners of "King Despair." The theology Diane encountered is not uncommon fare in conservative circles.
"Diane," I inquired "Do you love Jesus with all your heart?
"Yes....well I thought I did, but..."
"Save your but's," I stopped her. "Do you love Jesus?
"Yes, I do," she said with tears forming in her honest eyes.
"Why do you love Him?" I probed deeper.
"Because He died for me."
"Did you invite Him into your heart as Savior and into your life as Lord?"
"No but's, did you?"
"Then, Diane, you are a truly born-again Christian."
"But I've sinned. since I gave my heart to Jesus. not only have I sinned, I have been painfully aware of defects in my character that I know God must not like. Doesn't that prove that I am really not a Christian?"
"Diane, do you long to please Jesus, and do you hate it when you fail?"
"Yes, yes, I love Him and I so hate it when I fail."
"You are a true Christian if I've ever met one," I assured her. "And if what you heard at that seminar is true, I've never met a true Christian."
Diane's experience is not unique. The plain Biblical fact is, "We all (that includes you and me) stumble in many things. James 3: 2. "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves , and the truth is not in us." 1 John 1:8. There is no doubt at all that the grace of God is abundantly sufficient to keep us from falling. See Jude 24, 25. The fact that we sometimes fail is no reflection on God's power. It simply means we have allowed our personal weakness to prevail over His power.
(What has been your experience? Can you sympathize with Diane, or do you have another stumbling block that is in your way, or are you on the salvation pathway? I hope that we all are on the pathway to heaven, God has provided the way, we need to follow. Grandma Joan)