Paula Writes Header

The Gospel

The Three Truths That Forever Changed My Life

Hey girls,

As I read your comments on last week’s post “The Most Influential Man In Your Life,” I realized we weren’t speaking the same language. Several of you made comments like,

I am in-between both of those characteristics: Adam and Christ. Some days I give into the world, other days I live my life for Christ. It is a never-ending battle.

Here’s the thing: Being in Christ is less about your experience and more about your position in Christ. There isn’t any in-between. You’re either all the way “in Adam” or all the way “in Christ.”

The fact is, all of us were born “in Adam,” but if and when we put our trust in Jesus to be our righteousness, we are born again “in Christ.” We are one with Him now.

Paul begins Romans 6 by asking should we keep sinning ’cause we’ve been shown such crazy extravagant grace in Jesus? No way, he bursts in on himself. We’ve died to sin. We died and were buried with Jesus, and now we, too, have brand-new resurrection life. We have power over sin.

Our job: believe it to be so,

You also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11).

As you begin to operate out of who you are (dead to sin, alive to God, and in Christ Jesus), it will drastically change what you do.

See what I mean in this excerpt from my book Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom:

A Whole New Me

My whole life I’d struggled to defeat the power of sin—with no success. But now I was reading startling truths I’d never grasped.

It wasn’t just Jesus who had died—I’d died with Him. It wasn’t just Jesus who had been buried—my old self, packed with sin, had been buried with Him, too. And when Jesus burst out of that tomb with brand-new resurrection life, I, too, was given new life! Galatians 2:20 sums it up well:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but

Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by

faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

For the first time, I understood that Jesus didn’t die to forgive me of my sin but leave me in it. He died to forgive and to free me from the power of sin. Suddenly I realized I didn’t have to be jealous of that pretty girl. I didn’t have to covet every guy I saw. I didn’t have to hate that guy for not liking me. I wasn’t powerless anymore.

In fact, in Christ I was no longer that helpless, hopeless, boy-crazy girl. I had a new identity now: I was dead to sin, alive to God, and in Christ Jesus. My only job? Believing it to be so and living in light of that truth.

From that point on, I saw God begin to change not only my outward behavior but even the hidden desires of my heart. Whether I actually became a Christian at this time or not, I can’t say. I asked Jesus to save me at about age four, but this was the first time I really understood why the Good News was such good news!

This was the beginning of my whole new life.

Notice I said “the beginning.” It’s not like I was instantly transformed. But as I remembered, believed, and personalized these truths, my overwhelming despair ebbed away and was gradually replaced by hope. I stopped trying so hard and just started dying. Or rather, I started believing that I had already died with Christ. I gave up control and let Jesus take over.

How about you? Have you repented of your sin and put all your faith in Christ’s righteousness instead of your own? If so, you are now dead to sin, alive to God, and in Christ Jesus. Regardless of how you lived yesterday (or today), this is true of you. Now, begin to thank God for this truth. Wear it. Remember it. Relish it. Live from it.

The Three Truths That Forever Changed My Life” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

The Bitter, Salvaged Life of Jennifer Smith

Jennifer cussed the chaplain out when she arrived at prison to serve her sixteen-year sentence. But in the privacy of her cell, she repeatedly beat her head against the concrete wall until it bled. Without drugs, she knew no other way to mask the anger and bitterness she had known from childhood.

For most of her twenty-two years, Jennifer’s parents said she was a mistake—that she was supposed to be a boy. So, Jennifer believed that God makes mistakes.

At ten, a nineteen-year-old from church began molesting Jennifer. At this point, Jennifer wanted nothing to do with God.

She started drinking at age eleven to make the pain go away. By twelve, she was cutting, participating in criminal activity, and abusing drugs. By seventeen, she was a “mule,” trafficking drugs from Tulsa to Memphis.

One night, wondering how her life had turned out the way it had, Jennifer breathed a simple prayer, “Help. If You’re listening, help.”

She didn’t think about that prayer again until twenty-seven days later, when she saw six squad cars in her rearview mirror. As Jennifer was slammed to the pavement and cuffed, a load lifted from her. While she didn’t know what it would look like, she was certain life as she knew it was over.

After arriving at prison, Jennifer mocked the inmates in the Christian program. But she watched them. Their joy haunted her because it was something she had never known.

So she caved and joined them. For ten weeks, she heard things she’d never heard before: Forgiveness equals freedom; God uses authority for direction, provision, and protection for our lives. And, if she would believe in Jesus’ sacrifice for her sins, He would give her a new identity.

Ten weeks came and went, and the chaplain asked Jennifer to stay ten more. She couldn’t understand why—after the trouble she’d caused—but Jennifer agreed.

And on December 21, 2000, God’s Spirit interacted with her through His Word for the first time in her life. When that class ended, Jennifer got on her knees and told God if He could salvage what was left of her life, it was His.

And it has been, ever since.

“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17)

PS: Jennifer got out of prison on May 31, 2011, only to go back in . . . this time as a denominational chaplain. God is now using her mightily to help salvage other bitter, broken lives.