Paul of Tarsus said:
- “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwells no good thing.” (Romans 7:18)
- “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)
- “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
Donald Trump said:
- “I’m not sure I have ever asked God’s forgiveness.”
- “Why do I have to repent? Why do I have to ask for forgiveness if you’re not making mistakes?”
- “I like to be good, I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good.”
- “No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19)
I used to believe like Donald Trump. I was convinced that I was a good person. I tried to be good and when I compared myself with people around me who were openly doing bad things, I came out looking good to myself.
Like Donald, I was a Presbyterian. Every Sunday the preacher would have a time of silent prayer so that we could ask God for forgiveness. I used to silently pray, “God, I don’t really know anything I need to ask forgiveness for.”
However, when I was in college, something amazing happened inside of me. I had an encounter with the living, resurrected Jesus Christ. Then I began to read the Bible and it burned in my heart. As I read those quotes from Paul and other verses, I began to clearly see that I was not a good person–that that my heart was evil. I began to see clearly that I have the potential to do any bad thing that anyone one else has done.
I realized that I did not deserve forgiveness or a relationship with God. Deep within, I understood that if God gives me what I deserve, I will be eternally separated from Him. And then I saw His great mercy. Christ accepted the punishment for my evil motives and behaviors, so that I can receive His mercy and forgiveness, and be set free from my inner and outer bondage to evil. That has been my primary pursuit and desire ever since.
And so I continue to pray: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner.” –The Jesus Prayer taught in The Way Of The Pilgrim and The Philokalia.