I was recently saved a few weeks ago after being deceived for many years about my profession of faith at ten. Although my parents didn't become believers until I was nine or even start attending church until then, the majority of my life I was in church and did what I was told to. And I do want to say that I believe it is extremely difficult for children who come from a Christian background to actually come to Christ- more difficult than for those in the world.
I say this because we can spit out Bible verses and knowledge about why we believe in what we do, but we can't understand the extent of our sin. I make a blanket statement because it's something I noticed for the majority of second generation "Christians" who are most likely deceived into believing they have a real faith, like I was, but don't. Because these second generation kids grew up doing things the "right" way, they have no way to fully understand how offensive their sin is- they can know it in their mind but not feel it in their heart. There's typically no guilt because we tend to think that we're not as a bad as the alcoholic, drug user, or sexually immoral. We've never ventured out to do those taboo sins, so the guilt we feel over "lesser" sins is typically non-existent.
Jesus wrote two parables about us. The prodigal son parable mirrors our parents who were deeply engrossed in sin but repented. The brother who had always been with the father and was upset at the celebration over his brother is us who have grown up in a Christian home and have no understanding of our sin. We've never had a celebration because we aren't saved. We consider ourselves righteous and in need of nothing because we have always done what God would expect from us.This concept is also mirrored in Luke 7, with the parable of the two debtors. The first was deep in debt to the moneylender, equivalent to a deeply excessive sinful lifestyle, while the other was in debt but not as much. The one who was forgiven of his excessively sinful lifestyle felt extreme gratitude while the other did not because he could not comprehend that his sin was just as bad. Jesus spoke this to the righteous Pharisee who had the same attitude. It takes a deep unveiling to remove that blinder from our eyes to see the truth.
This was my very problem. I didn't understand my sin with my heart- I felt like I hadn't really done much wrong- I just knew in my heart that it was wrong to commit sin and that God disapproved of it. Beyond that was a mystery to me.
About a year ago I had considered leaving the faith and the ramifications of that. But at that point in time, strangely, I assumed that line of thinking was due to my lack of Bible reading and praying, which was non-existent at that time. Three months later, I came to the conclusion that I was actually lost because I had no guilt over sin or conviction over it. My profession of faith as a ten year old had no idea of the gravity of sin, and I knew that one could not come to Christ without acknowledging that. It was at that point in time that I made a decision I would never abandon the faith, and I would pursue salvation until I received it.
My main concern was that I had no grief over my sin. I didn't understand it. If I wanted to be saved at that moment, I couldn't be because I was lacking that one thing. Why would God decline that ability from me when I wanted it? So I prayed everyday for salvation and for remorse. I felt nothing for a long time. And then the night terrors began. I'd wake up in the middle of the night upset over the weight of my sin and how I couldn't get out of that cycle. It felt like a literal burden. Every day I'd attempt to do better, and everyday I would fail. So every night I'd be upset about my sin. I still didn't feel like I understood sin though as I wasn't in tears over my sin, which isn't a necessity, but once again, I had deluded myself into thinking I needed to feel something more.
As I prayed for my salvation on a regular basis, I sought out books on salvation to help me understand what I was doing wrong because I'd pray and not feel saved, as if it didn't work. And nothing was working, and I was scared. I felt a barrier between God and I that I could not pass through no matter how hard I tried. I started to become like those people famous reformers and pastors talked about in the congregation that believed God didn't want to save them and would not. They were not the chosen. And I firmly began to believe that. I was in earnest- desperate to find God.
So I went to the Christian giants of our faith because they knew something about salvation and spoke words about it that I knew were truth. They didn't sugar coat how to be saved. They said it like it was. And I knew they could guide me when nobody else could. I read a book on salvation, actually two, by A.W. Pink, which confirmed I was not saved because I hadn't experienced guilt over my sin- which is something the majority of preachers today will not tell you. It's misleading many into hell. You cannot simply believe in Jesus or be saved in a moment whenever you feel like it. That's not how it works. You come to God begging and pleading- just as the Bible says that people take the Kingdom of God by force and that it comes with great wrestling.
Despite this acknowledgement, it still didn't usher forth my salvation, or so I thought. And this concerned me even more. I didn't think I would ever be saved, but I kept trying. One day I happened upon a collection of Spurgeon's books. I had loved his quotes and felt like perhaps I should see what he had to say about salvation. Instead of finding a book on that though, I stumbled upon his book on prayer and thought, well it doesn't say salvation, but I'll read it anyway. It ended up initially being about salvation. And every thought I had had for the past few weeks mulling around in my mind was answered. It was like God was speaking to me through that book . . . .