Christ, when He voluntarily died on the cross, accepted the punishment for sin that rightly belonged to me...and to you. When I first understood this wonderful truth, my heart soared with gratitude too deep and wide to describe in words. I had known, for two gut-wrenching weeks, how horribly I'd violated God's standards and how much I deserved His judgement.
Sadly, I attended a liberal church--my childhood church--which emphasized "being good" over teaching the Gospel. Sure, the Sunday School teachers and youth group leaders taught that Jesus was the Son of God, but they presented Him more as a moral example than as a personal Savior.
With unregenerate eyes, I'd read my Bible, never once applying it to myself. My horoscopes, Magic 8-Ball and Ouija Board served as guides for several of us in the youth group...including some of the adult leaders.
Yet when I experienced sexual longings for the first time, my occult devises couldn't help me. Turning to Scripture, however, I saw how my selfish lust offended God's righteous standards. The Holy Spirit graciously confronted me with the devastating truth that I deserved an eternity in hell, separated from the God I so desperately wanted to know.
When a friend told me that Jesus died to pay for my sin, the relief bubbled into joy. He had freed me from a deserved condemnation. Because His blood paid the penalty for all my rebellion (and it went far, far deeper than sexual selfishness and occult involvement), I received the wonderful assurance that I'd spend eternity gazing on His lovely Face. Now, 43 years later. I continue to glory in my Redeemer.