Eve is a second-year linguistics major from Taiwan. She enjoys walking, journaling, star/sea/cloud/tree-gazing, and eating sushi and dumplings.
Though my family was not Christian, I was exposed to certain “Christian morals” at a young age, such as no murdering, no cussing, no lying, no pre-marital sex, etc. I received these morals willingly and even built on these morals with my own concepts of morality to guide my outward behavior, and judged others according to them. I was externally well-behaved, and enjoyed adoration and praise from family, teachers, and peers. But in my private life and thoughts, I was self-centered, prideful, and lustful. My conscience would bug me sometimes when I thought lustful thoughts, gossiped about someone, or looked down on someone. But because I thought I was doing fine (at least outwardly) in comparison to my cussing classmates, the students caught cheating, and all the cruel criminals out there, I was not too serious about the warnings of my conscience. I thought, if there was a hell, those people would be the ones deserving to be there. Not me. Even if I’m not good enough for heaven, I’m certainly not bad enough for hell.
As I grew older, lust gradually ruled over my life as I depended more and more on it to satisfy my longings for love; pride made me hate when I felt people didn’t give me the honor I deserved; self-centeredness transformed into obsessive self-consciousness with my self image. To me, those were my ways of pursuing happiness. I justified them thinking that no real harm was done to anyone. However, God in His mercy did not let this complacency and false assurance settle in my heart for too long. In sophomore year of high school, I started attending a church, because I thought Christian teachings could help me grow as a person. God employed this selfish motive of mine to eventually save me.
One day at church, the pastor preached on a passage about lust: “You have heard that it was said, ‘you shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery.” (Matthew 5:27-28). I was stunned. Lustful intent is equal committing adultery?! I started to see a great discrepancy between my standard of morality and God’s. I reasoned, if having a mere thought of sin is counted as serious as a physical act of sin, that’s no good news for me. The hate I harbored toward the classmate who’s smarter than me was murder in Jesus’ eyes; every lustful thought that ever crossed my mind would condemn me to hell for adultery. I saw the depth of my sin and the impending judgment of God, and was terrified. I realized I was not as good of a person as I thought I was. God softened my heart. I asked for forgiveness and desired to live for Him, and for my standard of morality to be re-informed by His law; however, I felt burdened by the perfect requirement of God’s law and often beat myself up for falling into sin again. I did not see the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice for my sins, nor did I experience joy and freedom in following God’s commandments. In my frustration, I couldn’t understand why, if Christ already paid for my sins, I still had to take this difficult path to fight sin and couldn’t just live however I wanted. God was so gracious and patient to me and eventually addressed my confusion by guiding me to His Word.
After coming to college, and by God’s providence in guiding me to GCC, I’ve been challenged to look more into the Bible for my questions and began to understand the Gospel more deeply. God is holy. God created me and has complete authority over me (Genesis 1:27). He wants me to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). But I disobeyed my Creator and lived a life pretending that He didn’t even exist (Romans 1: 21-23, 3:23). If he decides to crush me, burn me to ashes, or do whatever to take this life away from me and throw me to Hell right now, He has all the authority to do so. And in so doing He would be perfectly just (cf. Romans 6:23). But He didn’t. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to the world in human flesh and lived a perfect, sinless life, and then bore my sins and DIED IN MY PLACE, and came back to life three days later, proving His power over sin and death! (cf. Isaiah 53:4-5, 2 Corinthians 5:21, John 20:1-29) For those who will believe in Him, He promised them reconciliation with their Maker and eternity with Him in Heaven (John 3:16). After seeing more clearly God’s perfect holiness and justice, and my standing before Him as a guilty sinner deserving of punishment, His love and mercy in sending Jesus Christ to save me filled me with awe and gratitude. Assurance of His love for me in Christ grows my joy in obeying Him. Trust in the sufficiency of Christ’s atoning work and God’s faithfulness to His promises in Scripture frees me from excessive grief when I sin and helps me find forgiveness and hope to continue running the race (cf. Romans 8:1, 1 Peter 1:18-19, 2 Corinthians 7:10-11, Philippians 3:12-14).
I still struggle with sin and with temptations to return to my former way of life. But God has been so faithful and kind to guide, correct, and discipline me all along. My salvation is secure. I stand before God justified, not because I sought God strongly enough, nor because I could keep a perfect record of righteousness (no one can!), but solely on the basis of the merit of Christ, my Savior. By His Spirit who works in me and by teaching me His Word, God has been strengthening me more and more to fight temptations. He’s been teaching me to depend completely on Him in this race, and has given me assurance that by His grace alone I will endure (Philippians 1:6, 1 Peter 1:5). The joy He’s been giving me in my walk with Him is unparalleled. I give my life to Christ and seek to obey and glorify Him, no longer just because of fear for condemnation, but as Pastor John Piper puts it, “the love of Christ controls us, constrains us, animates us, moves us, impels us.”