I deceived myself into thinking I was saved when I was lost


Dear Minister,

I have been in a state of utter despair for the past 1.5 years. I feel like I am in a horrific state of having rejected the gift of Jesus and now finding myself with no place for repentance. I had deceived myself into thinking that I was saved when I was really lost. I said the sinner’s prayer as a teenager, and subsequently began to read my Bible, knew by heart numerous scriptures, attended church regularly, and participated in several outreach ministries.

As an adult, God began to convict me that I was not saved (that I needed Jesus). I argued with God that I had to be saved because of my prayer and all of the subsequent works. God continued to convict me, but I kept refusing to listen (I was too busy doing church work). It was only after the conviction to turn to Jesus stopped that I truly realized that I was lost. And now I fear that I am permanently lost. I had abundant head knowledge but no heart knowledge. I feel like I am here on earth physically, but that my spirit died 1.5 years ago. I have no zeal for life but am not eager for death.

My family continues to tell me that I just need to call upon the Lord and He will hear me. They do not understand my utter hopelessness and why I can’t just turn back to God, especially since I was raised in the church and appeared to be walking with God. I know that I am lost and I know that I need Jesus, but can not rid myself of this belief that I am no longer able to repent. I cry out to God, but I am concerned that I am just sorry over the consequences of my sins (eternal damnation) and not sin itself.

The conviction that I experienced as God was trying to draw me to Jesus and the finality when that conviction departed alongside the numerous scriptures in God’s word that warn of hardened heart, falling away, unpardonable sin all have me in a state of utter hopelessness. I feel like I am reading my Bible in vain, trying to reproduce the conviction that I once felt. But knowing deep down that conviction can only come from God, not me, and that He gave me numerous chances and I rejected them. The Pharisees searched scriptures looking for eternal life, but Jesus told them He is life. I feel like I know that I missed Jesus and am vainly searching the Scriptures trying to find Him again.

Also, when I read the Bible, the only passages that seem to apply to me are passages about the wicked, judgment, vessels of wrath, God's wrath, or Hell. I am terrified that I made my eternal choice by refusing to come to Jesus when God was calling me.

In utter despair,


You state that you know your Bible well, yet your note is filled with things not found on its pages. For example, nowhere in the Bible does it state that there is a "sinner's prayer" or that by praying a person becomes saved. See "Praying a Sinner's Prayer."

You talk about the unpardonable sin, yet the Bible doesn't use such a phrase. The words "unpardonable" and "unforgivable" don't appear in the Bible. See: I still worry about the unforgivable sin. What do I do?

You imply that knowing the Scriptures is somehow a detrimental thing. How is it that knowing something that came from God harmful to man? "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1:19-21).

You completely missed Jesus' point to the Jews. "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life" (John 5:39-40). The Jews search the Scriptures for eternal life. The Scriptures spoke about and pointed to Jesus, the Messiah as the source of life (Psalms 36:9). The Scriptures told the Jews to pay attention to the Prophet, who was Jesus. "The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, ... I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him" (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18). However, the Jews rejected Jesus. Thus, Jesus is accusing the Jews of not accepting the very Scriptures they claim to know so well. "For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?" (John 5:46-47).

You talk about God convicting you and drawing you as if this was somehow independent of His teachings. Yet, that isn't what Jesus said, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me" (John 6:44-45).

What you are really doing is putting your personal feelings ahead of what God said. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26). You claim that these feelings are from God, but the evidence is against you since God doesn't contradict Himself. Besides, God never said He leads by feelings.

If you want to know that you are saved, John tells us how you can know: "Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (I John 2:3-6). And herein lies the problem. See What Saves a Person? and What Must I Do to be Saved?

The idea that you cannot repent is completely false. Repentance -- changing your mind about sin -- is totally your choice. God invites you to repent, but He does not make you repent. If you chose not to change your ways, then the only person who can be blamed is yourself because the ability to repent has always been there. "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways," says the Lord GOD. "Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the Lord GOD. "Therefore turn and live!" " (Ezekiel 18:30-32).

The only point at which a person doesn't have a chance to change is when he is dead. So long as you live, you have the choice to serve God.

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