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Have you ever felt that you had to adhere to a certain set of rules or principles to be worthy of God's love for you? For me, I have no problem believing that we are saved by faith in God's Grace alone and not by works.
However, somewhere along the lines, I became convinced that, if I didn't adhere to a certain set of rules and rituals, God would no longer desire to be in a relationship with me, that He would be angry with me, and that He would not accept me back into His love unless I had been punished/disciplined and/or I repented of my “sin.”
The problem became that I began to live a live where I adhered to these rules and rituals out of obligation and they, in turn, became my god(s). I felt good about myself when I did them and I felt bad about myself when I didn't do them.
In the book So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore, I read…
Wouldn't it be a joy to wake up confident about being loved by God every day, without having to earn it by any act of righteousness on your part? That is the secret to first love: don't try to earn it.
Know that you are accepted and loved, not for what you can do for God, or somehow hoping that you will be worthy of his acceptance, but because his greatest desire is to have you as one of his children. Jesus came to remove any obstacle that would prevent that from happening.
Another quote from this book…
There is nothing the Father desires for you more than that you fall squarely in the lap of his love and never move from that place for the rest of your life. God’s plan from the days of Creation to the day of the Second Coming was designed to bring people into the relationship of love that the Father, Son, and Spirit have shared for eternity. He wants nothing less—and nothing else!
This is no distant God who sent his Son with a list of rules to follow or rituals to practice. His mission was to invite us into his love—into a relationship with God the Father that Jesus described as friendship.
But what do we do? We are so quickly captured by a work-driven religious culture that thrives on guilt, conformity, and manipulation that it devours the very love it seeks to sustain. In Ephesus it was ferreting out false teachers. In Galatia it was getting everyone to observe the Old Testament rituals. Today it’s convincing people to cooperate with the church program.
In this episode of the Almost Daily Devotional, I share my heart on these matters.
Here are the Scriptures that I used in this episode:
Galatians 4:8-11 (NIV)
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces (or principles)? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
Galatians 5:1-6 (NIV)
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.
Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
For through the Spirit we eagerly await, by faith, the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
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