September 26, 2023

Bob Maas
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”
Ephesians 2:1-3
“The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”
Romans 8:7-8

I never considered myself a wicked person. I’ve believed in God as the creator of the universe ever since I can remember. I even prayed when I went to bed. Yet when Bob Stewart, the man who helped me come to faith in Christ, asked me why I thought I was going to heaven I told him, “By keeping the Ten Commandments.” He asked me if I was obeying them and I had to tell him I wasn’t. So he asked me again, why I thought I was going to heaven. The second time I told him, “I’m going to heaven because I am an American.” At that, he chuckled and told me I had a lot to learn. When he told me that, I got angry with him and that ended our discussion. But his question got me wondering about my life after death.

Growing up I lived for pleasure. All I wanted was to have fun and I found it wherever I could. Sporting activities, games, events, being with my friends and anything that brought me enjoyment. As I got older I needed to earn money to pay for the things I wanted so I had many different kinds of jobs. During my teenage years I started smoking, drinking alcohol, gambling and viewing pornography. I never saw those things as evil or wicked because I found them gratifying. As I got older they became habits and I found ways to rationalize my lying, cheating and stealing so I could support them.

I was a poor student and eventually I was expelled from high school and joined the Navy. One of the many reasons I enjoyed the Navy so much was the discipline it brought into my life beginning in boot camp. I still had my bad habits, but so did a lot of my friends, so I was comfortable with them. What I didn’t realize was that these habits that were bringing me pleasure were also becoming addictions.

When I got married and we had our first child is when I really began to understand how the things I thought were simple pleasures had become destructive enemies of my family. When I tried to stop, I found the habits to be much more damaging than I had imagined and I was in bondage to them. I needed help and God was sending a man into my life who would eventually help me find freedom.

What I was learning through my experience was the reality that before the gospel becomes good news, I had to face the truth about my own depravity. The deeper I was sinking in the miry clay the more I realized my need to be rescued. What I didn’t understand was how strong my ego was in resisting my escape.

I was in a real battle.