Trust & Obey
The words to the old hymn by John H. Sammis, “Trust and Obey,” frequently ring in my ear when I think about my life. I’ve had the privilege of growing up not just in a Christian household, but around Christians committed to the total truth of the Bible. I wish I could say that because of this I’ve always followed those words of “Trust and Obey,” but that’s not the case. Instead I’ve been disobedient time and time again; yet God in His mercy brought me to points of desperation where I’ve simply had to take steps to “Trust and Obey,” against what I feel like I want to do–to take that step of faith to take God at His word.
I grew up in a Christian household, but despite this, I did not desire or choose to trust Christ as my Lord and Savior until age 17. I thought I was a “good Christian girl.” The reality is that I was a brat, proud, haughty, self-centered, judgmental, mean, disobedient and self-righteous. I cut people down in my mind to make myself feel superior to them. Of course I tried to keep my sin hidden.
Unsurprisingly, God had been trying to get my attention for a long time, but I hadn’t been interested in turning from my sin. However, at age 17, the consequences of my sin started catching up with me. I admitted to my evil thoughts, but made no steps to repent. My mother gave me an ultimatum: either turn from my sin or leave the house. My godmother also asked me a question I will never forget “If you believe the Bible is true, and applies to everyone, how do you read it and not apply it to yourself?” That burned in my brain–How could I? Did I believe I was some special case, that God had written the Bible for his people, except Rebecca Jane? How ridiculous.
I read some key verses that spoke directly to me–verses as simple as Mark 12:30-31: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength, and the second is this to love your neighbor as yourself.” And others that spoke more directly to my sin such as 1 John 3:15-16: “Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” I decided to take God at His word, that what the Bible says is true. I knew that I had sinned against God, and against His people, that short of Christ being the Lord and Savior of my life, and Him living His life through me, I had no hope for living a right life. I decided to trust Christ as my Lord and Savior in April of 2004.
I began to learn that like all people, I’m not a self-functioning independent person–I am created as a vessel to contain/be united with God’s spirit. Because of the Fall, humankind inherited the spirit of error and before I accepted Christ, I was born a slave to Satan, with his spirit operating through me, so he was free to live out sin by me. The Bible says in John 8:44 “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do,” and in Ephesians 2:1-2 “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” Satan by me was able to live out pride, haughtiness, self-centeredness, disobedience, self-righteousness, and judgmentalism. When I cut people down and chose to sin, it was Satan himself working through my members.
When I decided to accept Christ as my Lord and Savior, Satan, the spirit of error, was kicked out and was replaced by the Holy Spirit who now lives out God’s righteousness in, as and through me. In John 15: 5 it says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” We also read in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” And in 1 Corinthians 6:17 “But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” In summary, I saw I was bossed by the spirit of Satan before being saved, and was now bossed by the Holy Spirit, or spirit of righteousness.
The Fall after I accepted Christ, I went to college. For what I knew and understood, I experienced freedom in Christ, and my life took a 180. But as we all know, temptations don’t just stop when we accept Christ–our faith must be tested.
After graduating college, I got into the “real world.” Unfortunately, a lot of what God had revealed to me when I was saved was just head knowledge. The same lies that Satan had used with me my entire life came up, and I started believing them. I still believed there was an independent Rebecca Jane who needed to “be okay” by trying to appear better than others. Once I bit into that lie, that I was a “just me,” Satan was able to misuse me through my flesh members (my body and soul). He could never operate me from my spirit again, because I was joined to the Holy Spirit; but he could work through my body and soul to block the Holy Spirit from freely operating.
Even though I tried to keep my sin hidden, the Holy Spirit in me was blocked, and sin again showed its ugly face. My “hidden” thoughts about people started becoming obvious in my words and actions. I started outwardly tearing down my closest friends to their face, friends who had been with me through the toughest times of my life and I was outwardly cruel to my boyfriend. There was never a time in my life I was so hard–to God, to Christ, to His people, to His word. Friends and family were concerned and helped me try to identify my sin, so I could see it and turn from it. But my heart was hard; I didn’t want to stop sinning–I wanted to feel superior to other people.
God in His grace and mercy put people in my life who refused to let Satan win–the very people I greatly mistreated wanted me to live a life of freedom in Christ.
I first started choosing to see some light when I took the advice of my godmother and my friend who encouraged me to stop focusing on all external, selfish things–my circumstances, my thoughts and feelings. It was between me and God, period. My friend also encouraged me to read Psalm 139, which talks about how God is always there–We can’t escape Him: He knows our thoughts, when we get up, when we lie down. Another friend, seeing some of his former sin in me, pointed out that I might be dealing with jealousy. That was a new thought to me and helped shed light on my sin. All these things were rolling in my mind, but I didn’t want to give my sin up. I liked the idea of being better than, not less than.
Later that week, on January 23, 2013, at my church fellowship my godmother suggested that I talk about how I’d sinned against my friends, and maybe I would connect with it and be broken about it. I was getting desperate: my life was a wreck, I had been atrocious to everyone who had loved and cared for me, some my entire life. So in obedience, I thought I can at least do that. I started speaking to one of my closest friends about the horrible things I had said to her. She responded that I was monotone and had no passion. In obedience, I said to myself, you can at least put some energy into your voice. I started speaking again, and unlike anything I’ve experienced before, it wasn’t “me” talking. (It had never been “just me,” it had been Satan before, living out sin through my members but now it was the Holy Spirit). The floodgates opened, in brokenness, my confession of my sins against my friends and family poured out. I hadn’t planned on what to say. I had no intention of confessing. But after my simply taking steps of obedience towards Christ, steps of obedience in trusting Him, the Holy Spirit was there to say the words through me, to show me my sin, to make restoration with loved ones.
The scales fell from my eyes (Acts 9:18). Jealousy was at the core of my sin. Jealousy over all sorts of things in others–their looks, smarts, personality, spiritual maturity, etc. Instead of recognizing those feelings of jealousy as just feelings, “I” (thinking it was just me) had believed and lived from those feelings, and Satan was free through me to attack the people I felt jealous of. I had a beef with how God made me–I was lacking. But the answer the entire time, and what had been revealed to me when I was saved, was that I was whole and complete, lacking nothing in Christ, and there was nothing in this world that could compare with that gift. I’m forever grateful to my brothers and sisters in Christ who were willing to stick with me and see me through to receiving this gift; I was truly rescued, and I owe it all to the Christ people in my life.
I believe that was the “second crisis” in my life. When I accepted Christ, I knew I was a sinner in need of a savior, in need of the Holy Spirit to live out His righteousness through me. Now, I understand there wasn’t just a Rebecca Jane living her life, there was no “just me.” I contain a spirit who lives His life through me!
Now I live in a moment-by-moment faith walk. God made us to have a soul with natural human feelings and reactions. It’s through those thoughts and feelings that Satan tries to convince me that it’s just me living, rather than the truth–I am a vessel for Jesus Christ to live His life through. I’m a spirit person, containing, eternally joined to, and made complete by His Holy Spirit living His life as me. I still have feelings of jealousy quite often; Satan still temps me to act on those feelings. But now when those feelings and thoughts arise, I go back to the truth– that God made me exactly how He wanted to, and it’s exactly His business as to how He lives His life out through me and how He created me to be. No one can be better or less than me, and I can’t be better or less than anyone else. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 it says, “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” By my taking my thoughts captive to the truth of who I really am, Christ is free to be a life laid down for people around me. He’s free to care about them, meet their needs, be a right person to them.
There may be times you don’t want to give up your sin and you’re fighting against God’s word. But dare to believe the truth about yourself and, as the hymn says, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.”