My background includes a strict religious upbringing. Though my parents did not hold to all of the church standards, once I came to know Christ, I personally swallowed their line of thinking with all my heart and soul. I equated conforming to the standards of my church with proving my love for God and, in so doing, garnering His love and approval in return.
It wasn't until I attended a conference on revival back in 2013 that I understood the errors of my thinking. Here is the difference I found:
"There is a great gulf between the understanding that God accepts us because of our efforts and the understanding that God accepts us because of what Jesus has done. Religion operates on the principle, 'I obey -- therefore I am accepted by God.' But the operating principle of the gospel is 'I am accepted by God through what Christ has done -- therefore I obey." ~ Timothy Keller, TheReason For God , (New York: Dutton, 2008), 179-180.
Through this understanding, I have been contemplating and re-evaluating everything I believe. Here are some of my new conclusions:
- My relationship with God does not depend upon my works of righteousness either FOR salvation or AFTER salvation, but by faith alone in Christ's righteousness in His sacrifice on the Cross as satisfactory payment for my sins, past, present, and future. (2 Corinthians 5:20, 21)
- He does not expect me to keep His commandments through the works of my flesh, for it is as much the work of the Spirit in putting to death the sins of my flesh now as it was in His originally bringing me to faith in Christ. (Romans 8:8-15)
- I am assured of the enabling power of His Holy Spirit when I ask for it. (Luke 11:1-13)
- Not all the commandments given by even godly people are actually the commandments of God, and not all the commandments of God are intended for me. (Colossians 2:20-23)
is no set point in history which may be considered the most
righteous society/culture to which me must conform, but God works
His will and way in every generation in history and within every
society/culture. (Psalm 119:90; 145:13; Ephesians 3:21)
These are only a few of my new thoughts, and much of what I believe is being transformed little by little as I seek the Lord in His word through new eyes of faith.
This is my prayer for myself and for you, dear readers, that God would grant you...
"... to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God." (Ephesians 3:16-19)
It's time to get things out in the open and find our balance. Don't you think?