Monday, October 06, 2014

Am I Serving God or a Set of Standards?

I go through these really, really bad drag down phases where my past beliefs come back and haunt me.  It's almost paralyzing because I didn't even go to church yesterday and I was really looking forward to it. My husband very well knows these phases I go through because I'm usually in tears and curled up on the couch almost the entire day.

Even though my family went ahead to church without me, I looked up some of my favorite preachers that I recorded and picked a couple of sermons.  Something that really stood out to me, and it's weird that I just happened to watch it on that day...

"There are many gospels out there, be careful which one you listen to.  There is a gospel that tells you to go by your morals (by your works) to stay saved.  I believe in good morality but I believe good morality is a byproduct of right believing.  When you believe the true gospel, there will be a fruit of the spirit."

I can absolutely, 100% testify to how true this is.  Of course it's not gonna be a breeze to serve God in this day and age but when you put your focus on Christ, falling in love with Him, rather than on what you should and shouldn't be doing, those things fall into place on it's own.  Before, I felt like I had to try SO HARD to keep making right decisions.  I felt guilty over tiny things which led to condemnation, which then led me to feeling like not even trying anymore.

For example:

Several years ago on our anniversary we were walking the mall.  My husband and I decided to go into the theater and watch an animation cartoon.  Totally innocent movie. We had no TV at home.  The next time I was at church a lady whispered in my ear that she caught me at the theaters and saw us go in.  I looked at her and replied that I watched nothing wrong and I wasn't worried if anyone saw me.  However, I felt ashamed.  Why did I feel ashamed?  Did I watch anything I shouldn't have put before my eyes?  No.  It was just a works based mentality that came with a set of rules. I broke a rule, not a biblical moral standard.  From that point on I slowly, very slowly began to see how I was following rules whether or not there was a biblical reason for it.  I wasn't serving God, I was serving a set of rules and if I broke those rules even without sinning, I felt ashamed.  Then I would think, what does it matter now? I broke a rule anyway.  I might as well give up.  

For so many years I went through these highs and lows.  When I was faithfully reading my bible, going to bible study, praying, attending church, following the rules, I felt like a super Christian.  I was making people around me happy and it turn it makes God happy.  If I missed a couple of services or I slipped and watched a movie, I would get depressed and just say I want to throw in the towel.  I would lay awake at night in fear that God was angry with me and I was gonna die and go to hell that night.  Let's just say I rarely ever slept good.  But now that I look back on it, how was I sinning?  I wasn't! I was condemning myself and Satan didn't even have to.  I was doing his job for him.  I was serving a set a rules.  I realized that I didn't even know if I was serving God.  I was serving A God but not the true God.

One day the sleepless nights and the weariness did me in.  I was completely and totally drained and I had no more strength to try anymore.  I told my husband I would never set foot in a church again and I meant it.  I went to another church with my husband but for several months I sat there and questioned whether or not God was even real.  I decided I was gonna quit all together and I wasn't gonna serve a God I didn't even know existed.  One night I begged God to save me from the brink.  I was finished but I needed God to make Himself real to me.  I begged Him to show me the truth in scriptures about salvation.  He did.  He answered my prayer just a couple days later through a friend that recommended Robert Morris' Overwhelmed by Grace series.  It thoroughly explained the purpose of the law and how grace works.  That burden was completely lifted.  I finally understood and for the first time I saw scriptures to absolutely back it up.  How was I so blinded to these scriptures before?  I saw what I wanted to when reading scripture.  I picked out things that proved that we stay saved by our works.  The sad thing is I when I did that I was completely taking it out of context rather than keep reading. 

I said all that to say this, be careful that you are serving God and not a set of standards.  Serving God doesn't have to be so tiring that you are dragging your feet.  Once I just put my focus on Him, knowing and loving Jesus, it's like those wrong desires that were tempting me before just faded away.  It wasn't nearly as strong as it once was because the Law arouses sin.  When you serve the Law, you will find that temptations are gonna hound you a hundred times more.  When you serve Jesus, those righteous desires fall into place.

Good morality is a byproduct of right believing.
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