After Jesus brought me back, I went all in living as holy and loving as I was capable. People that met me later in and out of churches thought I talked like that was easy, must have not been that bad, or didn't have their struggles. Far from it on all counts! Scripture just had me thinking I leave the past behind (Phil. 3:13-14 / 2 Cor. 5:17), avoid complaining (Phil. 2:14), and build people up (Eph. 4:29 / Col. 3:16). I talked to few people about my past or struggles. I decided it might help people if they saw both how wicked I was in God's eyes and seemingly impossible struggles I faced. I still fight with my nature daily.
I've posted most of my sins below. If anything looks different, then you know what Jesus Christ can and will do in your life if you really surrender to him. It's work but He's worth it! :)
Note 1: I had a personal rule about not causing obvious harms to innocent people. I was at least mentally vengeful of those who wronged me. Just verbal in practice. Likely, a conscience sustained by remains of Holy Spirit during my apostasy. Keep that in mind as you interpret anything it's relevant to.
Note 2: This is mostly sins. Although a few interpretations exist, this Scriptural rule keeps me doing good deeds in secret. I try not to post or journal them except to highlight His work. That will make this look more one-sidedly evil than my life actually was. Some folks that care about me would be mad if I didn't at least point that out. That said, I'm guilty of all of this. I was and still am certainly wicked with righteousness imparted by the Blood and Spirit of Jesus Christ. He adds to it when I focus on, love, and obey Him; and love and serve others.
Over 10 years ago, I was saved by Jesus, given His peace, and blessed with good helpers. Stayed with it for years. A combo of things led me to abandon the faith. I'm not sharing them to avoid leading others astray (Matthew 18:6). Apostasy is a high crime against God that Scripture gives severe warnings about. I re-crucified Him. From there, I used debate skills, intellect, and believers' own foolishness (esp un-researched claims) to discredit believers in general and tear people away from Jesus. I mocked Him in many ways on top of that. I did this for a long time in countless places. I thank God I wasn't born with strong charisma.
References to how bad Saul was in Bible studies always get to me. That's because I'm most comparable to Saul with a key difference: his atrocious murders sent believers to heaven whereas my actions put people in hell. Most violent crimes at worst only hurt for one lifetime. What I did pushed them toward eternal suffering. That might make those of us who do this worse than violent criminals. A high crime against God plus one of the worst things you can do to another human being. I did it for longer than some pastors have preached the Gospel.
None that I recall (memory damage). Got close a few times. God held me back. Quite a bit of self-defense and de-escalating violent situations, though. I could've written volumes at one point.
Mainly porn and checking women out. Both regular occurences. I also sold porn along with movies and music back when CD players were a thing. Bootlegging. Past that, I treated most women respectfully, they liked me, and backed me up. All types did, esp older ones. That was still probably sin: pride it gave me to be seen as good (self-righteous) and fun bad boy.
The greatest sin under sexual immorality was probably teaching "high potential" men "game" to turn them into pick-up artists. I only did this a few times since, despite my bragging about my people's success, I felt really bad about it. Indirect harm is still harm.
I was bluntly honest about most, important stuff. Lied a lot about unimportant things to puff myself up against people showing out. Sometimes out of habit. Mostly did this early on in a black school where my accomplishments never counted. I overcompensated, gradually did less of it, and was always a terrible liar anyway. I later learned it was my skin color, not presentation skills, that was the problem. Later on, it still was but I was calling *their* lies out by then. Quarreling. Kept up lying ("showing out") mainly in environments where people were full of it. It was usually an entry and/or status requirement. There's entire fields of study and business like this that I'm just avoiding for now.
I did this with anyone that challenged me. Know-it-all correcting factual errors, debater on politics/religion, and devil's advocate on any topic to blow bad arguments (also, just to argue). The last one you can tell if I had to clarify my actual position at some point (see honest on important stuff). I verbally tore up anyone in my path that challenged me, sometimes dozens at once. I could rapid-fire improv at them plus cite my sources like an academic. If I had time for revision, then they'd get hit way harder. I was brutal at first with it more civil over time. Still quarreling and malice.
Similar to above, I did shock comedy and burns inspired by likes of Jim Carey, Eminem, DL Hughley, and Carlos Mencia. Goal was to shock and awe people mostly to project invincibility while (sad irony) venting effects of PTSD. I did, as a false justification, set up most jokes to reveal problems that people needed to act on. As in, anyone complaining about my speech was probably showing apathy in their actions. I'd burn them again for being hypocrites if they tried it. Vicious, but popular, with most saying I should've been on Twitter or TV the whole time. Says something about the world...
I was really good at sexual humor, too. I'd often tie it to peoples' probable soft spots for added effect. I did less of this or just complex innuendo because the world was drowning in simple innuendo. I saw no sport in it. I wanted to be better than everyone else at my signature skills. Interestingly, women liked my innuendo even more than men. I [further] corrupted all kinds of people. Who knows what sins that led them to.
I work hard on the job or wherever I have accountability. Past that, I put lots of things off whether it's side projects, house work, etc. Eventually, lots of it drifts into disorganization where it's a lot harder to do something with.
I was said to have a gifted mind before a head injury. It's hard to describe how much stuff my mind could do when it was in gear without using movie scenes about that kind of thing. What they don't tell you, except maybe Limitless, is it's like a drug. It's like pure dopamine, sometimes with adrenaline. It feels great! Then, you get a second high sharing the ideas with others. It becomes an addiction and way to withdraw from tougher aspects of life like anything else. Sin stops there for some.
Sometimes, I'd hit mastery or elite level of something with the praise that comes with that. People rarely believe we can do so many things. If we prove it, they shun us for it. Many hide it by default if not very contrarian. Some that believe follow and worship us a little but not like real celebrities. I did have something like groupies before.
Satan's goals against gifted minds are to feed our egos, make us feel pseudo-omniscient, better than others ("mere sheep!"), and outperform them (wield power) by out-thinking them. With street experience, it's the same problems in different areas with a different level of arrogance ("we're the wolves!"). A study by people like us on people like us found out most in up in menial jobs facing constant depression or anger. I learned we usually get absorbed in our favorite distractions. They're often things we better understand and control than our own lives. That might be the most normal thing about us, though.
I can come up with good ideas at 100mph. I don't choose when or for what that turns on. I rarely act on them or stick with them. It's often painful for me to try to overcome this. I also deal with paralysis by analysis just from sheer volume of info my mind sees. I used to hand ideas off to specialists for free, optionally after polishing them for implementation, to tell myself I wasn't just was wasting time. Got some results. Still, I could've done way more if I just focused on one thing at a time. This is at least a bad habit if not a sin.
This is the other end. I got it from rough places where they'd constantly want to trash talk, attack, or exclude people. Mistakes were *really* costly. I started wargaming what I said or did in my head trying to avoid failure or attacks. Slowly improved. I later learned this was called threat modeling and risk mitigation. No surprise I became a security expert. Unlike them doing it for fun, it was something I did constantly to survive that I couldn't turn off. Despite Jesus calming me, I find I still keep thinking about what I'll say or do to counter daily threats even when not necessary. Call outs, witty comebacks, or defensive statements are what mostly pop into my head in annoying or risky situations.
I often ignored any "pointless" or "victimless" laws that accomplished nothing or were created through corruption (i.e. bribes). Sneaky with other authority figures, too. I didn't like following the rules if they didn't make sense or were unfair. I was a sometimes-disobedient child who did a lot of civil disobedience as an adult. Victimless or not, I was a criminal.
Bible says obey authority and be blameless. I currently follow as many laws as I'm able, including stop signs on empty streets. I rent movies. I follow corporate policy. It's so boring with such rip-off pricing that it sometimes feels like a punishment for everything I got away with. That might be the sin of complaining. I think I'm just stating the facts, though. Maybe.
Fun, bad boy. Fun friends. Often anti-Christian. All kinds of sin here. Some followed people afterwards in ways that increased our rep, but hurt theirs. Mostly witty conversation, drinking, and stunts, though.
Implied in partying. It was worse, though. I drunk every night for roughly forever. It probably would've killed me. I quit a few months ago or something after a two-day, prayer fast. I asked God to help me not pick another bottle or can up. He delivered.
Note: Anyone reading all this worried about my state of mind can relax. I'm feeling better than usual. I just remember John 3:16-18, Romans 8:37-39, and what He's done in my life. If anything, writing this starts as temptation to self loathing, switches to gratitude for work Jesus Christ has done in my life, and motivates me to kick what's left. About that...
Originally, I'd have had a separate page on recurring struggles. Maybe I'll just do it here. It's mainly procrastination, lack of focus, daydreaming, and crude/evil humor. God helped me mostly stump the rest (including alcoholism!). Since my human needs are still there, the sins of ego, acquisition of stuff, and sexual immorality still try to sneak into my mind. If not overtly, they come in through thoughts that look good on the surface but lead towards breaking a commandment.
Quick note on that. I might be thinking of (good thing here) with a specific person. Using reflection, I ask why I'm thinking it for that person vs another in room that's less attractive, less fun, etc. We're to love impartially but sin is highly biased. Sinful thoughts also keep popping back into the mind randomly and more persistently than righteous ones. One can also test thoughts against Scripture like anything external. That's a solid default. Another is, "If you have to ask, probably don't think, say, or do it." Billy Graham suggested not doing anything you wouldn't pray for God to bless. If you pray without ceasing, that's an easy observation to make, too. Any of this tells me to resist and pray for assistance.
Another thing Steve Gaines was big on keeping in mind is spiritual warfare. While most temptation is external, demons can inject thoughts into our heads. Temptation can pop up from within our sinful nature, they can inject stuff of all sorts, and these often overlap because they'll inject what we're likely to go for (push + pull). I feel better knowing both the messed up idea might not have even been me and God limits the test to what He equips us to handle. Another Gaines lesson was the Holy Spirit convicts you to get you to stop, not beats you up over what you're no longer doing. "That's the devil." Again, check for contradictions to Word of God. If that's hard, read the Word of God more often. Surprising lesson for me was devil can tempt you to do good or even righteous things if they distract you from key activities supporting your relationship with God: prayer, Bible study, or worship. Just rebuke the bad thoughts doubling down on what you need to do.
Closing example: Now, I thank God for helping me write and revise most of this instead of procrastinating, entertaining myself, etc. I really wanted to. Still gotta give Him some Psalms and prayer before bed. Discipline, brothers and sisters! He's pleased with our sacrifices when our heart is in the right place. He works through many either way. Put effort into loving Him and others in as many situations as you can. He'll do the rest. :)
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