by Janelle Goodwin
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As my family found a church to join, I became involved with the youth group. They had an established, organized program that instilled in us a daily quiet time, scripture memorization, weekly bible lessons, and what it meant to do true Christian services. At first I did each of these things just to say I did it. I can remember sitting on the bed with my brother dividing up the days in our quiet time and copying each other’s journals. After all, they never checked the quality of the work; they just wanted to see that it had been completed.
Then God began working in my life. He began to be real to me. He began to become the most important person in my life. But there was always a problem with my assurance of salvation. Every time the opportunity was given for salvation it seemed like I would have the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other shoulder confusing me if I was truly saved and on my way to heaven or not. I would talk to the preacher and others about it and how it would torment me. I went to the altar for rededication several times and was even baptized again believing that would solve everything. It did not. I still felt as if I was not going to heaven should I die. So every night as I went to sleep I would pray to God. I would tell Him, “God, I love you. My heart’s desire is to serve You and live for You. I want to go to Heaven if I die, so PLEASE, if I’m not saved, then save me”. I would pray this prayer every day. Ever since God began working in my life, I’ve changed the way I talk, the places I went, the people I associated with; everything was different than they used to be. Just by looking at me on the outside you would say I was definitely on my way to Heaven, but inside there was not a peace.
On Wednesday night, June 12, 1996, a week long revival at our church changed my life forever. While I was getting ready for church there was something holding me back. I just really did not want to go to church tonight. But I fought the desire to stay home and received the victory over the struggle of my salvation.
It was a typical service. The minister was preaching God’s love from First John, then the time came for the alter call. It was the standard closing to a service. The altar was open to all those that were in need of salvation. I did my usual prayer from my seat, “God, if I’m not saved, then save me. You know I want to be in Heaven with you.” But that’s when it changed. It was at this time that the guest minister spoke up. He said that salvation can only come with a true repentance. There is not such a thing as “God, if I’m not saved, then save me”… That caught my attention! It hit me. How could he read my mind? How did he know those were the exact words I was just praying? God, is that You? Am I not saved?
Then I moved; I made my way to the altar; I was met by our pastor’s wife. She showed me in the scriptures where we must confess with our mouth’s and believe in our hearts. It was at that time that I confessed that I was a sinner and that I needed Jesus Christ to come into my life as my savior. As I got up from the altar I looked around, I was not by myself. There were ten other people doing the same thing I was doing. It was wonderful knowing that I had received the peace of salvation. I knew without a doubt that I was on my way to Heaven. Everything around me was clear. I could breathe better, the sky was bluer and the grass was greener. It was the peace of God that filled my soul.
Sin in the world
Sin is when we know to do the right thing and not doing it, or we do the wrong thing. We know that we sin when we do not obey God but how did sin get started in the world? When God created the world He made everything perfect! All the animals were perfect, all of the plants were perfect and Adam and Eve were perfect. God allowed Adam and Eve to eat of every tree in the Garden of Eden, but the tree in the middle. It was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God put this tree there because He wanted to give us a choice to see if we would obey him or not. Let us see what happened…
Isaiah 14:12-17 tells us the story of Satan five “I wills”, this is when sin began. He said he would ascend into Heaven; he would raise his throne above God and be more powerful than Him. He said he will sit upon the mount of the congregation in the sides of the north; he wanted to make sure that everyone would see him. He said he would rise above the heights of the clouds and he would be like the most high. Satan allowed greed, selfishness, and sinful pleasure to rule over him. Our world is being dominated by these satanic principles. Since Satan was cast out of Heaven he walks here on the earth looking to see what he can steal, kill and destroy.
Satan still has access to God. He spends his time telling God of all of the sinful things that people here on earth do. He is only allowed to do certain things to tempt us. The Bible says that if you are tempted not to say that you are tempted of God, but of the devil. Just because you are tempted by Satan does not mean that you have to fall into the temptation. Satan has rule over this world, but he is still on a leash and God has the final say in everything that happens in the life of a Christian. Satan cannot touch you without the permission of God.
In the end of time, we will look as Satan and say, “is this the man that made the earth tremble and shook the kingdoms? Is he really the one who destroyed the cities and made the world such a wilderness”. We need to realize that greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world and take control of the authority that we have over Satan. We as Ladies of Virtue need to be determined in ourselves to rise above the standard of the world and live the Proverbs 31 life that pleases God, not one that pleases the wickedness of this world.
The story of Adam and Eve is where sin entered into the world. The Bible tells us that it was by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin and death passed upon all man, for that all have sinned. It does not seem fair that Adam should be blamed for sin entering the world since it was Eve who took the first bite of the fruit and offered it to Adam, but Adam was the one who was given specific instructions not to eat the fruit on the tree. God told Adam what He expected out of him. It was his responsibility as the leader to tell Eve that the fruit was not allowed to be eaten, and to make sure that it was not eaten. Even though Eve took the fruit it was up to Adam to stand up for what was right and not eat the fruit. Since he did not obey God’s instructions sin came into this world.
We have to be careful about the decisions we make. If God has revealed something to us as sin and we still do those things, then we never know how many lives we can affect with disobeying just one thing. Just think about what was going through Adam’s head. I am sure all he was thinking about was that it looked so desirable and that one bite could not hurt anything, after all God was not there, He would not know. Guess what, God is always there, He knows everything. As a Christian, we have invited Him into our hearts to live with us and guide us to be who He wants us to be. When something is wrong, we should not do it, no matter how great the temptation might be. As Ladies of Virtue we need to realize that not obeying God is sin and we need to begin realizing that there are consequences for these sins. We need to start now by confessing our sins and set our feet back on the path that is pleasing to God not man.
The curse of the snake - The snake was sneakier than any of the other wild animals that the Lord had made. One day Satan in the form of the snake came to Eve and asked if God told her that she could eat of the fruit of every tree in the garden. Eve said that God had told Adam that they could eat of any tree in the garden except the one in the middle. He told them not to eat nor touch of the fruit of that tree or they would die. Satan told Eve that she would not die, but that if she ate of the tree then her eyes would be opened and she would be like God, she would know the difference between right and wrong.
Satan is very clever. His job in this world is to kill, steal and destroy. He always tries to confuse reality by making evil seem good. Even in the beginning he is out to make things different than they really are, here is Eve, living in the Garden of Eden with all perfection and every need met, yet he deceived her into thinking that she is missing out on something if she does not eat of the forbidden fruit.
Satan always starts with a plan, he chooses God as his subject of conversation. He turns the words of God around so that it looks like God is withholding something good from Eve. He cast doubt on the character of God. Doubting God makes it easier to take the fruit and eat it.
The snake and his temptation won Eve over. She took the fruit and at it, then she gave some to Adam. Because of this, God punished the snake with a curse; he was cursed above all animals on the earth. The snake has to crawl on his belly and he must eat of the dust of the earth for the rest of his life. The snake and Eve will hate each other and all of the descendants that come from Eve will hate the snake. We will hit the snake on the head and the snake will stride at our heals.
Temptation like this has been played over and over again in each of our lives. The situations are different, but Satan’s plan is always the same. He will always tempt us to think that a good God would not keep me from this would He? It is up to us to know that God will not withhold any good think from His people and that when thoughts like these come into our heads, that it is nothing but the devil. It is time that we start realizing when the devil is tempting us and learning not to fall into the temptation.
The curse of eve - The snake came to Eve and asked her, “Did God really say, you must not eat from any tree in the garden?” Eve said to the snake, “We can eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but the middle of the garden and you must not touch it or you will die.” The snake said, “You will not die, for God know that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like Him, knowing good and evil.”
When Eve looked at the fruit of the tree, she says that it was good and that it was pleasing to her eye. She could not resist it. She longed to gain wisdom so she took the fruit and ate it. She also gave it to Adam. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized that they were naked. Eve allowed the snake to distract her. She listened to the lies of the devil and allowed the lust of the eyes, how good the fruit looked on the tree. The lust of the flesh, how the fruit of the tree was good for good. And the pride of life that she wanted to gain the same wisdom that God had affected her thinking.
Satan drew Eve’s attention away from the fact that she can have every other fruit of the garden but that one. He makes it seem like the garden is not full of goodness, and God’s provisions. He makes the forbidden tree look good and pleasing to the eye. Now Eve desires the tree. The more she looked at the tree the more appealing it became. It is always that way when Satan gets us to concentrate on the temptation instead of on God.
Because of Eve’s disobedience to God, she was cursed to have sorrow while baring children as well as she will under the rule of her husband. She will have to care for him and meet his daily needs as well as the needs of her children and her household.
As we discovered before, Satan will use these three things to tempt us into sin. Even her eating the fruit at the very beginning he was using this strategy. Being tempted is not a sin, it does not become sin until we gall into the temptation. We must learn to be strong to fight against the temptation of the devil.
The curse of Adam – One day while walking in the garden, Adam came up to a snake and Eve. He did not know what was going on, he had not heard the conversation between the snake and Eve. Women have such an influence on men, Eve did not have to beg or even ask Adam to eat the fruit, all she did was give him the fruit and he took a bite of it.
The Bible says that by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin. So at the time that Adam ate the fruit sin entered unto all people.
Just like the snake and Eve, Adam has to be punished for what happened. After they ate the fruit they realized they were naked, so they sewed fig leaves together for covering. When they heard God coming they were afraid and hid for they knew the difference between good and evil and they knew they had done wrong. Because Adam listened to his wife and not God and ate of the fruit of the tree the ground is under a curse. As long as we live the man will have to struggle to grow food. You see until then Adam did not have to work, the ground grew plants on its own. Now it will grow thorns and thistle causing Adam to sweat to make a living. Since Adam came from the dust of the ground now he must return to the dust of the ground. The punishment of this sin was death. No one had to die until now. Because of sin we are bound to die.
If we will stop listening to the people around us and focus completely on God then we will not sin against Him. Because Adam allowed the influence of Eve to distract him, sin entered people. We need to stay focused and keep our minds on Christ.
Salvation from sin
Titus 2:11-14 tells us that it is the grace of God that brings us the free gift of salvation. This is a gift that is offered to all men. So, we know that God desires for everyone to have the firm foundation of salvation. Through this salvation He begins to teach us to give up our wicked ways by denying the ungodliness of this world.
Jesus gave his life for us so that He could save us from all of our iniquities. He has rescued us from everything that is evil in this world and wants to make our hearts pure for Him. He wants us to be purified, peculiar people excited about doing work for His sake. He wants us to be His people and to be eager about doing what is right.
So why do we need to be pure? Because Jesus died on the cross for our sins to make us pure. We must set our minds to focus on the blessed hope of the glorious appearing of God and our Savior Jesus Christ.
God desires for us to live free of our sins. God gave us life so that we might have it more abundantly. This abundant life can only be reached through the son of God, Jesus Christ. God loved us so much that while we are sinners He sent His son to die for us on the cross. But there is only one problem – the word “sinner”. God also said that for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So because of our sin we cannot have the abundant life.
Sin is the overstepping of the law, the boundary between good and evil. When you sin you depart from that which is right, you miss the mark and fail to meet the standard of God. If we do not abide by the law, rules or the standards that are set before us then we sin.
The Bible tells us that we are to flee from anything that has to do with things of man. We need to have nothing to do with the worldly things. If we discipline ourselves for the purpose of Godliness than we will be on the path of righteousness. Sin is the same as breaking God’s law, everyone who sins breaks God’s law. It is our goal to raise these standards and fight the temptation to sin. We need to purpose in our hearts to follow after the laws of God.
The world should know whether we are Christians or not just by the fruits that we bare. We can tell a fruit tree by the fruit that it produces; we are to do the same with Christians. We need to be producing love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, gentleness, faith and temperance; which are the fruit of the spirit.
According to James 4:17, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin”. Doing wrong is sin. God says that it is better for us not to know the way to righteousness, than for us to know the right way and not do it. All we are required to do is the will of our Father, than he will take care of the rest. But if we cannot even do that than we are sinning. We know that it is right for us to do what God tells us to do according to His word. His word is right and not doing according to His word is wrong and that is sin. God asks for us to come out from among the world and be separate. Now that we know what sin is we need to change! We need to be willing to yield ourselves to do the right thing.
James 1:13-16 tells us that the temptation of sin is not of God. Any evil temptation is from the devil. Satan will tempt any person. He always knows your weakest point and throws things at you when your guard is down. Satan even tempted Jesus. He waited until Jesus had fasted for forty days; he thought Jesus would be weak enough to give into his evil ways. You will always be tempted in one of three ways – the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, or the pride of life. Even though we will be tempted, we must follow the example that Jesus laid before us and stand strong against the evil ways of the enemy. Jesus used one of the weapons to fight His battle when He was tempted. For every temptation that Satan threw at Him, Jesus said “it is written”, Satan could not argue with the word of God.
It is not sin to be tempted – it is when we fall into the temptation when we sin. Sin brings death; Satan is the ruler over death. I do not know about you, but I was given life through Jesus Christ as my savior that I might have it more abundantly and that is exactly what I plan on receiving. As a Lady of Virtue, we should desire to stay close enough to God to be able to resist the temptations of the devil.
Jesus tells us in John 8:31-47 that if we have faith in Him and we obey what He tells us to do then we will be His disciples. We will know the truth – because Jesus is the way, the truth and the life - and this truth will make us free. So what will we be free from? Anyone who continues to sin (knows to do right and does not do it) they are a slave to sin. If we are constantly not doing the right thing than we are sinning and we are a slave to sin. Jesus is trying to show us the truth. He is telling us what He saw when He was with His Father. But the only advice that we are listening to is the advice from the father of this world. When God reveals to us something in our lives that He would like to change, He will make us aware of this sin each time that we do it. As we become more and more aware of this sin then we will not do it as often. Soon we get to the place where we do not do it at all.
Once we have gotten to the place where that sin is not as evident in our lives as Satan realized that we are becoming more Christ-like and he begins to get in the situation. He does not like for us to make these positive changes. He begins to place thoughts in our minds, these thoughts will always be lies, Satan is a liar, and he can never tell the truth.
The father of this world is the devil; we do exactly what he wants us to do. He has been a murderer and a liar from the beginning. There is nothing truthful about him. Everything he says is a lie. Not only does he lie, but he is also the father of all lies.
God wants to be our father. If God were our one and only true father than we would love Jesus more than we do, because Jesus was sent from God. He did not come on His own. Everything Jesus tells us is the truth; we cannot find any sin in Him. Yet we still do not have complete faith in Him. Anyone who belongs to God will listen to His message, but we do not belong to God, so we refuse to listen. As Ladies of Virtue we need to stop listening to the lies of the devil and begin listening and obey the truth of God. He showed me the need for salvation is the key to unlock the soul. Salvation is as simple as John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on Him will not parish, but have everlasting life.”
“For God so loved the world” – Because God loves you, but not just You, He loves all mankind. God loves the people of this world so much. We will never be able to understand the love that God has for us. The greatest way that we can show our love for anyone is to die for that person, God showed His love for us when He sent his only son into the world so that we might live through Him.
Real love is not our love for God, but the love of God for us. God sent His son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven. They used to use animal sacrifices to get rid of their sins and to show God they loved Him in the Old Testament. God showed us his own ultimate love and sacrifice when; even though we sin and do all of these wrong things; He sent His only child, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for us. God sent His son to be the sacrifice by which our sins are forgiven. God showed us His love for us, have you accepted His love? Do we show our love for God? Do we show others the same love God showed for us?
“That He gave His only begotten Son” – God gave us the Bible for instructions on how to live a life pleasing to God. God does not want us to sin, so He told us how to live each day. But, if we do sin, then Jesus Christ is the sacrifice that takes away our sins and the sin of all the people in the world. Jesus Christ always did the right thing, He never sinned but He became sin on our behalf. Jesus, in whom there was no sin, become a man so that he could take away our sins, He did not miss the will of God at any time or in any way.
Through Jesus Christ is the forgiveness of sins. Through Him, everyone that believes is freed from all things. Jesus wants us to become the righteousness of God through Him, so when we ask for forgiveness He will speak to the Father for us. Jesus Christ personally carried the load of our sins in His own body when He died on the cross. He wants us to be dead to sin, but live in righteousness, by His stripes that healed us. Jesus was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, and he was chastised so that we might have peace. But with His stripes we are healed. God is so overflowing with kindness for us that he took away all of our sins through the blood of His son. We are saved by the forgiveness of our sins according to the riches of His grace. We need to look upon our old sin nature as dead and unresponsive to sin, and instead be alive to God, alert to Him through Jesus Christ our Lord.
“That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish” – Jesus is the life giver; He raises the dead and gives them life again. We are to preach the good news everywhere that Jesus is ordained of God to be the judge of all of the living and the dead. Anyone who believes in Him will live again. If you do not believe on the name of Jesus Christ then you are already condemned to hell, which was made only for the devil and his angels. But you can live eternally if you just believe the name of the only begotten Son of God, Jesus. Everyone who believes in Him will have his or her sins forgiven through His name.
All you need to do is believe on His name and trust Him to become a child of God. God wants to give his children everything there is. All who trust Jesus to save them will have eternal life, but those who do not believe or obey Him will never see heaven. All we have to do is believe on Jesus and we can have eternal life.
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your household can be saved. He gives eternal life for believing in Him. God has given us eternal life and this life is through His son. Whoever has Jesus has life; but whoever does not have Jesus, does not have life.
“But have everlasting life.” – If we believe in our hearts, that God loves us and that He sent His only son, Jesus Christ; to die on the cross for our sins, then we can say that our home is not this world, but it is eternity in Heaven with the Father and His son. If we believe on what we have been taught, and stay in close fellowship with God and Jesus then He will give us what He has promised us – Eternal Life.
If we believe on Jesus we will not die, but we shall be given new bodies. All of this will happen in a twinkling of an eye – the trumpet will sound and the Christians who have died will suddenly become alive and those Christians who are still alive will have new bodies and will be brought up to heaven to meet with Jesus.
While we are here on earth serving Jesus, He is preparing mansions for our homecoming. When everything is ready He will come get us so that we can be with Him forever. He will wipe away all tears from our eyes and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, nor pain. All of our earthly problems will be gone forever.
How much does He love you? So much that He sent His son into the world to die for you and me. The bible tells us that there is no greater love than a person who will lay down their lives for a friend. God showed us the greatest love by sending His only son to die for us. And Jesus showed us His love to us by laying down His life for us. What do I need to do to be saved? Believe in your heart that Jesus died on the cross for your sins. Why is salvation necessary? So that you will have the everlasting life in Heaven.
If salvation is not a key that you have, please make that change in your life right now. This is the first step in becoming the Lady of Virtue that God created us to be. Please confess your true repentance, that you realize you are a sinner. That you believe in your heart that God sent Jesus to die on the cross for your sins. You are asking forgiveness for your sins and for Jesus to live in your heart to dwell with you and guide you in Godly living.
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