“God has taken a vessel that was unclean and made it whole and clean.”
I was raised in a wonderful loving family. When I left home, I chose to go my own way and not follow the guidelines that had been established in my life. As a part of the “me” generation, I did what I wanted, when I wanted. Self-gratification was my goal, but rather than feeling good, I continued to experience an emptiness that couldn’t be filled. When I finally came to the end of myself, I began to hear the words my brother had been speaking to me. He taught me that a life lived for Jesus was the only way to obtain fulfillment.
What followed was a time of repentance–letting Jesus not only be Savior but Lord of my life and asking forgiveness for my sins.  While I understood Father God’s forgiveness, forgiving myself was another matter. As I was preparing to be water baptized, I began to realize my “old man” would [symbolically] be washed away. I can distinctly recall the emotions of coming up out of the water and having revelation that my old nature was dead and buried. I suppose I needed the physical, symbolic act to fully grasp that the Lord had completely forgiven me. God had taken a vessel that was unclean and made it whole and clean.
Over the next fifteen years, I grew in the Lord, but some of the old thought patterns started recurring along with the corresponding negative emotions. Gradually I took on a condemning religious attitude toward myself. But God in His infinite mercy and grace has always had a plan to bring me to an understanding of my identity in Christ.
“…He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:6b).
“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”(2 Cor. 5:21).
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
I can now walk confidently knowing who I am in Christ, and my past is a tool that the Lord can use to help others. If He can use me to help one person avoid falling into the same pitfalls, it’s all been worth it. As Dennis Jernigan has said, “I’m not proud of my sin, but I’m so proud of the One who set me free.”
This article was published in “Present Truth” magazine of Covenant Life Church in Springfield, MO. www.presenttruth.org. Copyright 2004. Used by permission. Footnotes added by JBW.
 Ecclesiastes 2:10,11
 Matthew 16:25
 1 John 1:9
 The “old man” is who we were before salvation as identified by the dead spirit we inherited from Adam (Romans 6:6; Colossians 3:9). The “flesh” still hinders the believer’s practical sanctification unless he/she “walks in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16).
 For further study on the believer’s identity in Christ, see Grace Note: The Basis of Your Identity – https://gracenotebook.com/the-basis-of-your-identity/