I grew up hearing the Word of God all the time—in church, in my house, and through my mom, who was a church leader. I loved God and even suffered a lot of persecution in school because of my faith.
When I was in college, I started to pray for a Christian wife, but I could not find anyone to date. It was some years after graduation that I finally found someone I liked, but she broke my heart and I cried for many weeks.
I started to question God and ask Him why this was happening if I had been so faithful to Him. Even after I moved to the United States years later, I was still crying and begging God for a wife.
"I kept reminding Him of how good I was, how I kept myself pure because of Him, and how I deserved to have a wife."
Later, I began dating Christian girls and became serious about one of them. But she broke up with me and that made me resentful because I had treated her well. At the same time, I also felt condemned because I kissed her and I thought I was not “pure” anymore. I kept asking God for forgiveness but it only brought more condemnation.
From then on, I began looking at girls all the time with lust in my heart. I heard these accusations in my head: “How can God bless you when you have that sin, when you are full of lust? God won’t bless you and He won’t give you a wife!”
I repented and promised God that I would not lust after girls again. I did my best to spend time with Him by praying and reading the Bible.
I also forced myself to look elsewhere when an attractive girl passed by. After a while, I would feel “full” of God’s presence and confident enough to pray for a wife, only to slip back into feeling lustful.
"And then the cycle of these religious efforts would start again."
I even increased my time of praying and reading the Word. I also fasted and went to church six times a week! However, after a few days, I would be back to flirting with girls on the Internet with my head full of lust for them. Then, I was back to crying and asking God for forgiveness.
All these only brought more condemnation and guilt into my life and I started getting deeper into sin, even developing an addiction to masturbation.
I thought God was not going to bless me with a wife because of my actions and thoughts, and at the suggestion of a church leader, I made a vow to God. I promised Him many things including stopping masturbation in exchange for a wife.
But after a few weeks, I was back to sinning again and I felt even more condemned about breaking the vow. I thought God was going to curse me.
"By then, I was thirty-eight years old and still not married. I was angry because friends my age were already married and blessed with children."
I felt that following God’s laws and statutes was a curse.
The turning point for me came when I saw one of my favorite pastors posting an update on Facebook about a book he had enjoyed reading. It was the book, Destined To Reign, by Joseph Prince. I believe that the Holy Spirit put the desire and curiosity in me to buy the book, and I started to read it after I got it in the mail.
At first, I did not agree with what Pastor Prince was saying. However, the more I read the book, the more I understood the gospel of grace.
I started to go to a park every day first thing in the morning to read the book. I started to meditate on the gospel truths in the book.
It took me about two months to complete reading the book because it was so rich. At the end of it, I let go of all the disagreements I had because I saw myself as the righteousness of God through Christ.
For the first time in my life, I did not have condemnation hunting me down! I still had the problem with masturbation from time to time but instead of crying, I began to confess, “I am the righteousness of God through His Son, Jesus!”
Knowing I was completely loved, completely blessed, and completely forgiven somehow kept me pure.
"I was also confident that God was going to bless me with a wife, not because of my good behavior, but because of what Jesus has done for me."
I even told God to renew my youth and bless me with someone who was completely “out of my league.”
Finally, my miracle occurred when I felt led to create a profile on a Christian dating website. Soon after, I found a beautiful girl on the website, and I sent her an email. Unbeknownst to me, she had created her profile just fifteen minutes before I sent her the email, because she wanted to prove to her friend what a bad idea the website was.
On that website she received tons of emails from guys wanting to date her. She deleted all those emails but she said that when she read my profile, something impressed on her spirit, and she wanted to get to know me better.
After communicating via email, we met and got to know each other better. I am much older than her but God confirmed in many ways that we are meant for each other.
Her parents, who were against all her earlier relationships, also approved of me and our decision to get married.
"I am finally married, and my wife over exceeds all the expectations I gave God! I could not be happier!"
Both of us have read the books Destined To Reign and Unmerited Favor together. We are starting a group with neighbors and friends called “God’s Unmerited Favor Study Group.” I have bought all of Joseph Prince’s materials and we enjoy hearing his preaching every week.
Thank you for making me understand and welcome God’s grace in my life. His grace has changed my life forever! Now, I am passionate about showing people the true gospel of grace.
Edward, United States
Name of the testimony giver has been changed to protect his privacy.