Updated: Feb 7
Today I woke up with a sort of joy that I haven't ever experienced before. It is a joy that I believe is coming from letting go of my insecurity and my worry and my fear caused by wondering am I enough for God? I have looked back on my life and felt guilty many times. I've told myself I don't serve others enough, I don't dress well enough, I don't eat good enough, I am too lazy, too tired, too grumpy, too selfish. If I really let myself I could come up with a seemingly endless list of my flaws. I have spent days asking God for forgiveness over things over and over. I've told myself I need to experience pain or punishment for my mistakes. I have great admiration for Martin Luther and I remember that he too struggled with seeking more self-denial and self-inflicted pain.
In the year 2020 I am not going to do that anymore.
For so long, even if I didn't admit it or call it what it was I was living my faith walk by works. Every time something went wrong I felt like it was because I "broke" a rule. God was punishing me. I saw other Christians who "lived by faith" and I judged them. I told myself my suffering would make me more valuable to God. It has been through Bible study, prayer, and pondering on these things that I have realized why I was living in such a manner.
I have come to the conclusion that it is easier to live by works than it is to live by faith.
When you live by works you can see the "fruits" of what you are doing. You can use your actions as proof of your value in an argument with yourself or others. "Well I know I am better than them because I worked at a food bank while they watched TV". "I am a stronger Christian because I went to church and they stayed home and slept.". "I am a better witness because I had more people come to my Bible study then they did."
Works are measurable, tangible, and factual... but they are not always faithful. It is for this reason that it is often easier to believe you are saved for what YOU are doing than to accept that God's grace has nothing to do with you at all. It has NOTHING to do with you. I am going to say it again, it has NOTHING to do with you. That is why it is called grace. Re-read that over and over until it can truly sink in. No amount of self-denial can earn anyone a place in heaven. You cannot earn God's love, you can only accept it.
You cannot make/earn/demand that other people earn God's love, you can only show them how to accept it.
You do not need a ticket, a stamp, a mark, a pass, a specific lifestyle or any other exterior physical thing to be saved. It is your belief alone, your faith alone that saves you. The sooner you can accept this for what it is, the better your life and your relationship with God will become.
I am not making this up, there are countless Bible verses that support what I am saying. I will share a few:
Matthew 19: 25-26 "When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
Romans 10:9-10 "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."
Romans 3:20-24 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in[a] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Many good people have read these verses but they are afraid to believe it. They are afraid to accept it because it seems too easy and too uncertain. They are afraid because of the things they have been taught which demand them to live a rigid, dull, and miserable life for the sake of pleasing God.
What does this mean in relation to the Ten Commandments? What does this mean for morales? If we are ONLY saved by faith why are there so many other "rules and regulations"? Do we just throw all those away?
Perhaps it would first be good to stop calling them "rules and regulations" even though I do realize the Bible calls them laws. They were laws in the Old Testament but Jesus has altered that mindset with his death. The works of faith are in place so that we may show our appreciation for God and so that we may know that we are faithful because of our desire to do those things.
It helps to think of this like any other relationship you might experience. It is not until you fall in love with someone that you feel motivated to give them gifts, sacrifice time for them, and show them how you feel. The love comes first, and then the acts of love follow.
You will know that you love God, you will know your faith is strong when you begin to seek out how to show Him your gratitude. You will know your faith is strong when you will desire ways to make the world a better place. The law shows us the ultimate way for people to get along on earth. There is absolutely no reason to follow the law if you do not love God. Sure, there are good people in the world who are unknowingly following bits and pieces of the law, but imagine how much more God will bless them as they get to know the real reason why the law is good.
This is why we are called to witness.
There are again, many verses to back these things up:
John 14:21 Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him."
John 14:23 Jesus replied, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him.
1 John 2:3 By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments.
2 John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the very commandment you have heard from the beginning, that you must walk in love. 1 John 2:3 really spoke to me as I am writing this to you. In this moment God meant that verse especially for me. I do not have to wonder if I am doing enough or if I love God enough. I can find assurance of my dedication to Him because keeping the commandments in the Bible is no longer a burden for me, it is a joy.
Are you struggling with the feeling that following God is a burden? Are you scared of His wrath because you aren't doing enough in your life for Him? It is time to let it go. It is time to stop worrying about pleasing God and it is time to start worrying about loving Him. When you love Him all the rest of it will come naturally. I'm not saying it will be easy but you will want to do it. How do I find my love for God? By reading and studying deeply the Bible.
If you do not enjoy keeping the commandments and if you find yourself resenting God's law, stop keeping it.
WHAT!? Blasphemy! Melissa is sharing false teachings! Melissa is telling people to disregard the truths of the Bible.
No. That is not the case. You must realize that it is not worth it to keep God's law unless you want to. Your motivation must come from your heart, from the Holy Spirit working on you. This idea that we must suffer and begrudgingly drag ourselves to church no matter what comes from a lack of faith. Your relationship with God is a journey and you cannot serve two masters. You cannot carry out the 10 Commanmends if in your heart you still want to steal, lie, or cheat. Do not force yourself to live that kind of lie. Do not be afraid that if you don't suffer you will never love God. God is so much greater than that! He will lead you to love Him!
Luke 17:6 He replied, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you.
Go google a mustard seed. Your faith is going to carry you through. Don't force it before you are ready.
We must let go of the superficial, and accept that everything about God, spirituality, and salvation is a heart issue. It is time for you to do whatever it takes to fall in love with God. When you fall in love with God, all these other things will fall into place.
I know, because it has happened to me.