My poor Bible has seen better days. It’s been read, highlighted, written in, taped, and re-taped. The cover is missing. Pages are ripped. Whole sections have fallen out of it. But I can’t make myself throw it away! I’m not generally a sentimental person. I don’t attach memories to things. In fact, I happen to own several Bibles in a variety of translations. But this particular Bible is special.
My mom gave me this Bible on my sixteenth birthday. It wasn’t my first Bible, but it was the first Bible I had asked for. I grew up in a Christian home, but I was no longer satisfied with knowing God just through my parents. I was convinced that getting a “real” Bible, one that I could study for myself, was the first step. I was done with Bibles with cute covers and illustrations.
Writing in my Bible for the first time felt both sacrilegious and liberating. I highlighted and underlined and made notes and drew arrows through the whole thing! Today, when I look at its pages and reread the notes I wrote in the margins, it’s like each one is a flashback. I remember where I was when I wrote each note. I remember what I was feeling. I remember my insides screaming out for God to speak to me, not realizing that every note, every highlight was His voice.
Then one day I read:
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. . . . And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.Romans 8:2, 10, New International Version
I remember that day. I remember reading this chapter and thinking, for the first time in my life, I am free from sin! It was such an exciting revelation, I noted it in the corner of my Bible. You see, I wanted to know God, but all my life, sin had been presented as the enemy. Sin was separating me from God. It was keeping me from experiencing His blessings.
As a child, I didn’t feel like sin was that big of a deal, but for years, I watched the same people approach the altars every week to repent of and mourn their sin. I didn’t understand why people, who spoke in tongues and saw angels and heard the voice of God, had to be born again, again and again. However, just to be safe, I decided to add “and forgive me of any other sins I may have committed but can’t remember” to my bedtime prayers!
When I realized I didn’t have to spend my entire Christian life struggling with sin, it changed everything. Like Andrew says, “Separation from the sin nature is an accomplished thing whether you understand it or believe it or not. When you got born again, you became separated from this old sinful nature that drove you to sin. . . . But whether you reap the benefits of that is completely dependent on whether or not you know these truths.” He goes on to say, “So, really, walking in victory is as simple as recognizing your new identity, that you are now freed from that sin nature. It has no more dominion over you.”
That revelation (and that sixteenth birthday gift) changed my life. It started me on the path to eternal life—to knowing God (John 17:3)—and has given me the tools I needed to start my own children on that path.
If you want to learn more about these truths that have changed my life, check out Andrew’s teaching Grace: the Power of the Gospel, which is airing all this month on the Gospel Truth.