SAVED Stories: Galatians 2:20 by Mike Martinez

SAVED Stories: Galatians 2:20 by Mike Martinez

Aug 31 , 2020

Ed Navarro

Back in High School I was known for my academic achievements. I loved getting the highest grades and took pride in it. I used it to gain friends by letting them copy during exams and letting them join my group in school projects. I was also known as “The Supplier” of many pornographic CDs. I knew where to buy them and shared it with many of my batch mates. I never involved myself in vices such as smoking or drinking. My closest friends were also academic achievers. All of this led me to see myself as someone who is good and moral -- at least much better than others. I always maintained a humble façade in front of people and this was what they believed. Inside I took pride in it. I carried this attitude to college and immediately gained friends. I used my influence to character assassinate those people I didn’t  like in ways that people still see me as a good and humble person. No one knew what was in my heart. Looking back even I did not know how evil I was inside. But God knew.

Fast forward to Summer break before my Senior College, my older brother asked me if I wanted to attend a retreat organized by the youth ministry of our Christian church back then. I declined, however I distinctly remember wondering how my brother and I suddenly were never fighting anymore. I saw changes in him. He was kind and persistent that I should attend retreats too. I was curious what changed him. After many persuasions, I agreed to join the next retreat. I did not realize that it was during that retreat that God would start to move in my heart. I was assigned under a breakout group where the facilitator’s first question to all of us was “If you die right now, where will you go.” Every person in the group said they would go to Heaven. I was the last to answer to which I proudly said “Hell”. With his surprised look, he asked me why. I simply answered “Because I have a lot of questions about God and the Bible.” He asked me if we could talk more about it after the program that day and I agreed. We talked until 3am. I raised a lot of my objections against Christianity but he answered it using the Bible. I had no idea the Bible addressed those specific questions. I did not give my allegiance to Christ during the retreat yet since there were still questions in my mind. When I got back home my mom asked me if I had surrendered my life to Christ. I said no because of one last question. “How can a God of love send people to Hell?” A few days after, in God’s goodness and sovereignty, my mom handed me a book exactly entitled w/ my question. I read through it and came to a glimpse of what God’s Holiness is. I felt God was pursuing me by leaving no objections unanswered. I felt His love. One week after the retreat, November 1, 2005. I discovered that the real reason why I do not want to surrender was because I loved my sin and I knew that if I surrender and acknowledge Him as my Savior and Lord, I cannot love my sin anymore. No more lust, pornography, lying, backstabbing and false humility. However, God was pleased to give me a new heart. For the first time I had peace that God would wash me clean and I had joy to turn my back from sin and run to Him to rescue me. Understanding the Holiness of God was key to my conversion. It was the canvas where all other factors were painted – my depravity, my inability to love God and that my most righteous acts are simply filthy rags before God. God’s judgment, His call to die to self, take up my cross daily and follow Him--all these made sense when God gave me a glimpse of His Holiness.

My life has changed since then. The sins I once loved, I now hate and the Holiness I once avoided, I now desire. Those whom I have wronged before I asked for forgiveness. To one friend in high school whom I stole his cellphone, God gave me the grace to find the courage to admit and pleaded for forgiveness. For the first time I already struggled with sin when before I never even knew it was evil. The Gospel changed my life. God’s Holiness, my sinfulness, Christ’s life, death and resurrection to rescue a sinner like me. In love and driven by compassion and mercy, Jesus took upon himself my sin on the cross and God’s full wrath against sin. My life is His.