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From the Power of Satan to God: A Testimony

Part Two

By Gene Anderson

This article is continued from:
From the Power of Satan to God: Part One.

Out With The Old:
In With The New

March 6th, 1987. A day I will never forget. At around 7:20 a.m., as I was preparing to go to work, I started into the bathroom when, as if a hand were gently placed on my chest, I was stopped in my tracks. As clear as day I heard the words "Your life is going nowhere." I stood there wondering what was up; and for a few seconds I pondered those words. I agreed with what was said to me; then I made the decision as to what action I should take: go out and get money for the Empire by whatever means necessary. What I now consider to have been my last warning was spurned. About an hour later while I was at work, I was arrested.

It was the worst day in my entire life. After a year-and-a-half I thought I was scot-free. My coworkers were shocked. I never felt so embarrassed as I did that day, sitting handcuffed in the back seat of that police car.

They took me to the Woodhaven jail. As I laid in that cell, for a brief moment I contemplated suicide. Not only did I hurt for myself, but it pained me to think about what this would do to my family and girlfriend. Too bad I wasn't thinking like this before I committed the crime and caused another family immeasurable grief.

The police questioned me but I denied it all. The FBI seemed more interested in my island than in the crime itself. They confiscated all my plans from my girlfriend’s house.

I was charged with first-degree murder. After the arraignment, I was taken to the Wayne County Jail. As I sat in the holding cell, I kept hoping to awake from this nightmare. "This can't be happening to me" kept flashing through my mind. "Is this as far as the "Empire" is going to get?" Hours before, when I was still a "free" man, I had little doubt that the Empire would become a reality. I thought, "It's such a magnificent idea. Surely I will have the backing of the 'gods' on my side. How can all these dreams, plans, and goals be wiped out with one stroke?" As much I struggled against it, this was real. I was awake. This was no nightmare that you just wake up from and it's all over. What I thought was the perfect crime now had me facing the rest of my life in prison.

My family was completely shocked and my girlfriend was in hysterics. The police went to her house to search it, since I was staying there. Instead of just knocking on the door (they already had me apprehended), they began to pound on it, as if they were kicking it down. My girlfriend already had instructions from me that if anyone tried to break into the house when I wasn't there, she was to chamber the Uzi and call the police. She did just that. But to her surprise the officer on the phone told her that those are at the door are the police! Thankfully, they didn't get in before she found out who they were. Only God knows what would have happened if they did.

After spending the weekend in the "old" jail, they moved me to 9N..E. on the new side. I was on the exact floor and in the same corner near where they conducted most if not all of the Christian services. As I spoke with my Dad one day on the phone, I noticed a service being held. Not having even been in a church since before 1973, I told him about my idea to go. He said it would be "good" for me.

I was the only one in a two-man cell for a few days. In that cell were two books: the Bible and a paperback titled Pulpit In The Shadows by Freddie Gage. This book was about a Houston teenage thug and all the evils that he did. Even though he never said he committed a crime like mine, he was active in many smaller things.

He told the story about how he accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior, and how Jesus Christ had transformed his life. I thought to myself, "If God can forgive this guy, then He could forgive me also!" It was around this time that I actually began to be conscious of a real god—the God of the Bible. The same God who forgave Freddie Gage.

I began reading the Bible quite regularly. I remember picking it up and turning to Genesis, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters" (1:1,2). I thought these were some of the most awesome words that I had ever read.

In my 23 years of life, I do not think I read so much as one verse out of the Bible; but God was working on me daily. One thing that made me realize this was what happened after I got a WWI book from the book wagon. As I laid in my bunk reading it, the Bible was at the foot of my bed. I kept peeking over the novel at the Bible until I put the book down and picked up God’s Word and began to read it with diligence. Since that day, The Sinking Of The Lusitanla was the last war novel I read.

I went to the services whenever I could. The Lord gave me favor with the deputies; and even though I wasn't supposed to, they allowed me to attend every service. The Lord knew that in order to break my hard heart I needed to hear the Gospel as much as possible.

Even though I was on a rock" that housed 20 men, not one of them was Christian—at least none of them seemed to be. There was one guy who said he was a minister; but this was his second time in jail for armed robbery. For some reason, his claim to Christianity wasn't too convincing.

No one on that rock told me about Jesus. Not one person attempted to lead me to the Lord. But God has ways of doing things that are beyond human comprehension. I can't remember exactly how it came about, nor do I recall what day or month it was. I can only guess that it happened in late March or early April. All I know for sure is that one day I got down on my knees at the side of my bunk and began crying my eyes out to God. I asked Him to forgive me of all my sins and that I believed He sent Jesus to die for my sins. Never witnessing a conversion before, I had no idea that all it takes is one prayer from a broken and sincere heart and God will forgive you. I felt so filthy about my past sins that I cried, prayed, and confessed my sins to God several times a day for about a week, not knowing exactly what it would take to get "right" with God.

Although it was not what most would call your "typical" conversion, I knew that I had been forgiven nonetheless. I felt a definite change. A huge burden had been lifted. I knew that I had the Spirit of God dwelling in me and I finally realized the value of that precious Blood.

Growing in the Faith

By the Holy Spirit and with the help of the precious servants of God at the County Jail, I began to grow in the faith. But, as some reading this who are saved know, baby Christians can come up with some "far out" interpretations of Scripture. One of my biggest blunders was when a guy asked me if it was OK to have sex without being married. Possibly basing my response on what I had read in Deut 22:28,29, I told him, "Yeah, as long as she's not a virgin; and if she is, then you have to marry her!"

Another major mistake I made was thinking that I was so spiritually strong that nothing could shake me. I hadn't yet fully grasped the Biblical teaching on pride and self-confidence and when a problem arose comparable to a termite in the midst of a herd of elephants for magnitude, I panicked. Needless to say, I learned quickly that growth and maturity are sometimes a slow process and nothing to boast about.

Reading, learning, and growing continued daily. Each day was taking me closer to my trial date. My lawyer tried to get me out on the 180-day ruling; but the courts denied me. I even seen God’s hand in this. For, in the month-and-a-half I would have been out, I noticed that some of my greatest spiritual growth took place.

I remember sitting on the edge of my bunk talking to God and saying: "Lord, You know that I could end up in prison for the rest of my life. You know that I don't want that. Lord, you'll understand if I get up on that stand and lie won't You? After all, my entire future is at stake here!"

As I sat contemplating the situation, I "happened" to glance at a "verse chart" I had hanging on the wall. Of all the verses on it, it was the smallest one that caught my eye. It was Psalm 46:10a; and it read, "Be still, and know that I am God."

I knew right then and there what God was telling me to do. He did not want me to get up on that stand and lie; He simply wanted me to put my complete trust in Him no matter what the outcome may be. God is faithful and He wanted me to believe this.

It didn't take long to convince me. I decided not to testify. Still, I was worried that my lawyer would blow his top if I told him of my decision; but the Lord took care of that, too. When he came to visit me just before the trial, he agreed with me 100%. He also thought it best that I just sat mute.

Several days after they arrested me, Jay and Duke were apprehended; Alice was not charged. Since Jay was the youngest and "least culpable," they offered him 7 to 15 years if he would testify against Duke and I. The evidence of God in my life was overwhelming. I met Jay several times at services and in the "bullpen." At one time on my "hit-list," God’s love flooded my soul and I had absolutely no hatred for this man whatsoever. We even had tears in our eyes several times as we met.

This same attitude also flowed out of me towards Alice and her family. There is no other way I can explain it than to say that it was only through Jesus Christ that I was able to do this.

Even though the trial, with all the dirt being exposed, was not pleasant to sit through, the Lord was with me and comforted my heart throughout the entire ordeal. I basically knew I would be found guilty and that I would be sentenced to natural life in prison. So when the jury handed down the verdict I was not the least bit surprised. I still had faith that God was in control and, whatever the results, it would be according to His Divine plan for my life. God was with me, and I had His promise that He would be with me wherever I went (Matt 28:28b). Knowing and believing this gave me a peace I never had before.

My life began when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Since I could not change the past, I had to look at my life from that day on (Phil 3:13-14).

God used me to witness to several men while I was in jail. One fellow seemed quite puzzled at my reaction to my sentence and asked me how I could be smiling. I was glad that I told him, "Because Jesus is with me." I mean, what good would it have did me to be angry and let others see it? Would this show how much I trust in the God I claimed to be serving?

I was sent to the State Penitentiary on December 15th, 1987. I know it's possible that I may spend the rest of my life in prison; but I'm reaping what I've sown. Physical freedom with Christ would be nice; but whether I get out or not is up to God. And if It's His will that I spend the rest of my earthly life serving Him in prison, so be It. I know that He put me on this earth for a reason and He wants me doing His will no matter where I'm at. He knows what He is doing and makes no mistakes.

Many are shocked when they find out what I'm in prison for and how much time I got. They find it hard to believe that a "guy like me" could do such a thing. But I had many people fooled, and according to what some of them said on the witness stand, even those who knew of my plans didn't believe me. I was described as a guy who "talked weird" at times, and Alice said I was a "dreamer." But I was not described as a guy who was capable of killing. To most, I was a polite and quiet person. One who liked to joke but not one who you think would have such a hatred for others. It's not like I was some drooling monster that walked the streets looking for victims. No, but my corruption was in the heart. It was full of evil.

I would like to give some advice to anybody who is reading this. If you hear your children or friends say they want to do something bizarre (like kill, or blow something up), take heed to it. One of the young men who shot and killed several of his schoolmates and a teacher told some of his friends of his strange desires. Maybe if they would have taken him seriously and told his parents they could have sat down with him and asked why he would want to do such a thing. It may be that all he wanted was a little attention; and if it were given him, a terrible tragedy may have been avoided. So don't take such "weird talk" lightly—you may end up saving someone's life.

Even though in prison, I do not say that I had a better life when I was "free" than the one I do now. Because out there I never had Christ. I never had true peace. I was a tormented individual. Many nights I would lay in bed with my gun on the night stand next to me and keep looking towards the stairs wondering If anyone or anything was going to come and try to kill me. This was not the life I wanted to live. This is not the way anyone should live.

Since my salvation, my life has gotten better and better. Sure, there are times when it gets kind of rough, and that can be expected. But I have no reason to believe His faithfulness will not continue until the very end. Through prayer, Bible study, obedience, and faith we will obtain the victory that God wants us to have.

People can say what they want about the existence, works, or significance of Jesus Christ; but one thing they can't disprove is the fact that He changed my life. There is no other way for me to explain the 180 degree turn that took place in me after I trusted Him for my salvation. I mean, I was very sincere when I was praying to "god" when I was out in the world; but that never gave me the peace I had once I trusted in Jesus. More times than not I would get the exact opposite of what I prayed for.

Some may ask, "It's good that you found Jesus; but isn't He just one of many "paths" to God? Don't Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims also claim to have "peace'?" Certainly. And I'm sure there are even atheists who will admit to having peace without any religion whatsoever; but there is one thing that all these religions do not guarantee their followers—eternal life simply by accepting by faith God’s gift of Grace. None of the above religions emphasize God’s Grace and all of them either make no guarantees of salvation, require its followers to perform certain types of works in order to have even a chance at salvation, or both.

What most people don't realize or believe is just how simple salvation is. They cannot accept the fact that such a wonderful thing can be obtained completely outside of their own efforts and works. But that is why it's called a "gift"—"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph 2:8,9). "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 6:23).

And why by grace? Because if it wasn't by grace, then God would not be the One responsible for our salvation. If getting into Heaven depended on what we did, then a lot of us would be in trouble. Just how would we know if we ever compiled enough good works to get us into Heaven? Can you imagine God saying to you that you can't enter into Heaven because you didn't help as many old ladies across the street as another guy? But the Scriptures say, The just shall live by faith (Rom 1:17).

Let's face it. If you are not saved, there are many times you have been trying to find fulfillment in your life. Time and time again you have attempted through your own efforts to find a "high" or a joy that will last forever; just like I did in my quest for ultimate power. Maybe you seek it in alcohol, sex, drugs, gambling, or whatever it is that the world has to offer.

But if you are honest, you will admit that though these things can bring us satisfaction for a moment, they are at best only temporary "solutions." Alcohol and drugs may cover the pain for a while, but when the high is gone, you are right back where you started. You usually end up consuming more the next time, possibly leading to financial, work, and family problems. This, my friends, is not an escape.

Whatever you have tried, be sure of this: God knows the situation you are in. He knows what you need and what lengths you have gone to in order to find satisfaction in life. But best of all, He has the solution. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us so that we may have eternal life. And life in Christ has many precious and never-failing promises:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt 11:28-30).

Again, God never tells us that we will be free from all troubles and trials down here; but He does promise to give us what we need in order to get through them:

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33).

It's much better—and safer—to go through a raging sea with Jesus than to sit on a calm pond without Him. In the Bible it's written: "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him! (Psalm 34:8). Well, I have "tasted" and I know that God is true to His Word.

Do I understand everything about the Bible and what God has planned for my future? Certainly not. In fact, the greatest miracle I've ever experienced—my salvation—is beyond my total understanding. I cannot fully explain how He was capable of loving a vile, godless person like me and give me eternal life.

Regardless of if I understand it or not, by faith I know that Jesus Christ did in fact save me, "For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved" (Rom 10:13). And, "The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom 8:16). It was through Jesus and Him only that I obtained the peace I had been searching for.

And if God loved us enough to send His only Son to die for our sins, He will also take care of us, "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom 8:32).

You may be like a lot of people and think that the Christian life is boring and dead. I used to think this also; but such is not the case. So what are some of the "benefits?" Well, as I mentioned before, having the Spirit of God has given me a greater value for life, not only of my own, but also for the lives of others. It feels great not having such a deep hatred for people. It feels great to be rid of that paranoia I had. It feels great wanting to be honest; not wanting to steal, lie, and cheat. It feels good to have a clear conscience and not have to worry if I'll be caught doing anything illegal. But best of all, it feels great knowing that God has forgiven me of my sins and that one day I will be with Him in Heaven. And not only does He forgive sins, He also completely forgets them!

He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:10-12).

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more (Heb 8:12).

The Bible and the Holy Spirit also help us make wise decisions, such as who we should associate with, "He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will be destroyed (Prov 13:20). A lot of people think they're doing the right thing because those they hang out with laugh and think it's cool when they get drunk or high and do crazy things. But would a true friend take pleasure in you doing something that is not healthy? Would a true friend tell you to disobey your parents and break the law? No. A true friend is one who looks out for you. A true friend would not want you doing something that could get you in trouble or killed. And if people don't like you simply for who you are or because you won't do what they want you to, then you would be better off without their "friendship."

Even though good friends are a blessing, they are human and can disappoint us. They cannot always be there or give us exactly what we need. But Jesus is unlike any friend you can ever have, "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Prov 18:24).

He has promised us that He will never leave or forsake us (Heb 13:5). And king David wrote, "When my father and my mother forsake me, Then the LORD will take care of me" (Psalm 27:10). God does not lead us down the path of destruction, as some of our so-called "friends" have done; but His intention is to lead us down the paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3). You cannot find a better friend than Jesus, because, "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends (John 15:13). And this is what Jesus did for us, even while we were His enemies:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Rom 5:8-10).

What more can you ask for in a friend?

The Bible also teaches us about how we are to treat our parents (Eph 6:1-3), spouses (1Pet 3:1-7), children (Eph 5:4), friends (Prov 17:17), and strangers (Luke 10:25-37). And it also tells us about personal responsibility (Eph 4:28 and 2Thes 4:11-12).

We are responsible for our own decisions and we are free to live as we wish; but as the Bible says, "Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment" (Eccl 11:9).

Final Appeals

God will not judge you by what someone else has done. Likewise, He will not hold anyone but you responsible for your actions. There will be no "passing the buck" on Judgment Day. Unlike the court systems we have on Earth, when your sentence is handed down to you from God--it's final. You will have no defense attorney with you. There will be no appeals. There will be no second chances. But it's not like you haven't been warned.

An impending Final Judgment is one of the most important things the Bible tells us about. That one day every person will stand before God and give an account of their life. No one will be excluded from this:

For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil (Eccl 12:14).

But this I confess to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets. I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust (Acts 24:14,15).

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God (Rom 14:12).

That Day may be years down the road; but it is coming!

Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God (Eccl 8:11-13).

Many people plan for the future; but few make plans for eternity. And while the next minute of life is not promised to anyone, eternity, either in Heaven or hell, is a guarantee for everyone. And you can never plan for eternity too soon because you don't know when you are going to die. As the Bible states, "For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away" (James 4:14).

Death often comes swiftly and without warning. So don't make the mistake of countless others and think that you'll have time to "get right with God" just before you die. This is pure foolishness. Those who have been killed in plane crashes and car accidents would surely testify to this. They had no idea they would never reach their destination or return to where they came from, "For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, Like birds caught in a snare, So the sons of men are snared in an evil time, When it falls suddenly upon them" (Eccl 9:12). There are millions of ways to die, but it only takes one.

But there are not "many paths" to God as some would have you to believe. We have to accept the means of salvation that He has provided for us through Jesus Christ. He does not have to provide us with many paths if all can embrace one.

A lot of people have trouble with having to accept Jesus as the only way to Heaven. It doesn't set well with them to be given an "ultimatum": Repent and believe that Jesus Christ died and rose for you, or you will spend eternity in hell. But the Scriptures are clear, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts .4:12).

But in all actuality, we are given "ultimatums" throughout life: If you don't eat your dinner, you will not get any dessert. If you don't get good enough grades, you will not graduate from school. If you don't do the job the way your boss tells you to do it, then you will be fired. If you don't obey the law, then you will be penalized. And the list goes on. So if we (for the most part) take heed to the rules that fellow humans have given us, how much more should we obey the rules that God has established? "See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven" (Heb 12:25).

There are things in the Bible that people find hard to understand. Many find it difficult to accept something that doesn’t "jive" with basic human logic. But the Spirit of God helps us to understand:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1Cor 1:18).

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1Cor 2:14).

Before I was saved, I don't think I ever read even one verse out of the Bible. But through prayer, daily study, and with help from other Christians, the Lord has brought me a long way. Not once in my unsaved life did I ever imagine that I would one day be professing Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. But as the Bible says, "For with God nothing will be impossible" (Luke 1:37).

I have been on both sides of the fence. I went from a life of wallowing in the mire of sin as a servant of Satan (who hates even those who love him), to a life of peace and joy through the mercy and grace of God, who, "has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Col 1:13). And believe me, which life I like better is a "no-brainer." I would rather spend the rest of my life in prison with Jesus than to have several lifetimes in the "free" world without Him.

"Behold, now is the accepted time;
behold, now is the day of salvation" (2Cor 6:2).

There is nothing on this earth worth giving up eternal life for, "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matt 16:26). I had to be knocked down hard before I came to my senses; but this doesn't have to happen to you. As long as you are alive, you have the chance to accept God’s gift of grace and forgiveness of sin.

Seek the LORD while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:6-7).

If you are not saved, or if you're a new Christian and have any questions about the Christian faith, if you write me I will be happy to help you find the answers. May we one day meet in glory!

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy (1Thes 2:19-20).

Author: Gene Anderson # 191250
3225 John Conley Drive
Lapeer, MI 48446

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The above article was posted on this Web site June 2, 1999.

Forgiveness and Salvation

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