My Works of Religion

by Sisterlisa

AGMinistriesWhen I came to the church in the residential neighborhood, just a few blocks from our apartment, I was.. well shall I just say I needed to be taught etiquette and manners. I was a 'people' person, but not among 'church people'. I was used to my street friends and my behavior was perfectly acceptable in those circles, but in this tiny church....I stuck out like a sore thumb.

Within about three weeks I realized it was time I make some changes in how I dressed, not so much for myself, but so that I would feel comfortable in that church. I knew that how I dressed was very different than what this place was used to seeing. Wearing a skirt and fancy blouse was not my style at all. I was a down to earth twenty year old who liked to dress comfortable and in accordance with the weather. Needless to say my summer attire was not the norm in this place.

As I sat in their ladies Bible study class, in the last row, the pastor was teaching about modesty. He made it very clear how he felt God viewed ladies who wore pants. I sat there in my shorts and felt extremely uncomfortable. In my mind I felt that God now viewed me as 'less than' because of what I was wearing. This formed a warped and twisted view of God, in my young impressionable mind. It wasn't until three months later that I really made a decision about modesty, but this time it was a decision I made on my own. It was no longer about what man thought of me, but what I thought of me. I decided one day that I really wanted to dress modest. Although I made a decision for myself, from what He spoke to me about, I did not view others who wore pants as 'less than'. I knew it had to be a personal decision, a decision of one who has grown in grace.

I have seen religious leaders preach and teach on a topic, knowing full well that they had someone in particular in mind. When we take God's Word and we purposefully teach in the presence of other believers just for one specific person, most people in the room senses it. Another thing that does is usurp Christ's authority in the life of that child of God. Jesus chose wonderful analogies, parables, that spoke to the hearts of people about their individual situations. This is the beautiful working of His Holy Spirit.

We have a written copy of the letters His apostles and prophets wrote down for us, but what about those in countries where the written word is against the law? What about those who haven't heard a man tell the gospel? How does God reach those who have no one to teach and no written word? Do we really think that God Almighty lacks in being able to get His message across to the humans He placed on this earth? Did not Jesus Christ smite Saul to the ground on the road to Damascus? Did Saul not know it was Christ our Lord speaking to him? Did Jesus Christ speak English to Saul? Jesus knew exactly how to speak to Saul and He knows exactly how to speak to his people without us. So many times we end up just getting in His way and hurting a lost person or young Christian and actually cause a stumbling block for them.

So how does He get to our hearts? How does He teach us if we don't have someone telling us how to live? He promised us that he would write His word upon our hearts.

When I read
Jeremiah 31:31-34, " 31Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
33But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more."
God knows how to speak to us by the power of His Holy Spirit.
If I were to keep relying only upon others to teach me, then what room does that leave for His Holy Spirit to teach me?
As Believers, I feel we need to ask for Him to give us discernment before opening our mouths to others about sin. Most times I think He had already begun a good work in them and we squash their spirits from learning. Our hypocritical attitudes cause more harm than good.
I met a lady once who was a new believer in Christ and she told me that she had been cleaning out her apartment and getting rid of a lot of symbols she had. I asked her why she thought to get rid of those symbols, I asked her who told her to do that. Her answer was simple, "God told me to".
She didn't need someone to tell her those symbols were not edifying to her spirit, she KNEW it. His Holy Spirit told her and she responded to Him, on her own, without humans belittling her for having those symbols.

When I was a new Believer, I didn't have boundaries in my life. My life was a mess. Not because I wore shorts and mini skirts, but because I didn't have a deep abiding relationship with Christ. Those I sought teaching from gave me a list of to-dos and a list of do-nots. The more they told me to add to my list, the more focused I became on finding my righteousness in those works of religion. I learned how to dress in a socially acceptable way, behave well, my manners became polished, but I became an empty vessel, shiny on the outside and corrupt on the inside.

I knew I was worthless, after all the enemy reminded me of that daily. So just how does that old serpent manage to speak such words of doubt and unacceptance into our minds if we are 'doing' all the 'right' things and avoiding all the 'wrong' things? I realized it was because my sword and shield was not in place. The sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Jesus Christ is my sword and shield and I needed Him to protect me, not my own righteousness.
When I had previously looked upon another Believer's 'armor' and saw their lives being full of corruption, my mind immediately went to judgment. In my mind I 'knew' their problem was that they didn't avoid sin very well. They weren't separated from the world. (or so I thought)In my eyes, I thought I had it right, but when my own 'armor' wasn't working, He showed me why.

Not only did I have the armor wrong, but I had taught others how to put on the wrong armor too. When they didn't wear their armor the way I thought they needed to wear it, I became the judge. When we keep our eyes on Jesus Christ, right living happens. We become less focused on self and others and we become focused on Christ. When we are focused on Christ, He shows us our sin and He shows us His grace. This is one lesson he taught me about how to live in grace, have freedom, and not fall into sin. I focus on Christ.
Stay tuned for more upcoming articles about living in grace without legalism.

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{ Teri Lynne } at: September 28, 2009 at 3:58 AM said...

Beautifully written. Thank you, my friend, for sharing from your heart. Oh that we may all walk in grace! I, for one, am thankful for the freedom NOT to be the Holy Spirit in another person's life!! It is true freedom to trust in GOD and GOD ALONE to do the work of salvation and transformation of hearts.

{ Brooke McGlothlin } at: September 28, 2009 at 6:45 AM said...

I was not allowed to speak on behalf of my ministry one Sunday in a church because I was wearing slacks. Growing up I always wore dresses or skirts to church...not everyday, but always to church...the one time of the year that I was allowed to wear slacks to church was when it snowed. This particular day, when I was to speak, it snowed. I wore pants. I was embarrassed and felt rejected when from the pulpit the pastor told me I wouldn't be speaking that day but never said why. I had to find out another way that wearing pants in that church was unacceptable. Humiliation...
Today, I understand the heart of modesty...and "the heart" is what it's about.
Love your article Lisa...

{ Sisterlisa } at: September 28, 2009 at 7:10 AM said...

Thanks ladies. I wear exercise pants on walking days and house pj's that are super comfy. But I don't live in fear of condemnation or curses anymore.

{ Cassie } at: September 28, 2009 at 11:22 AM said...

wow this was very encouraging. I had to learn the hard way about pants when I statred attending "christian school" in 4th grade. At that time most of my wardrobe was jeans, but the school has a very strict dress code. Anyway after awhile God spoke to my heart about how to dress and it has nothing to do with codes of conduct. I dress how I am comfortable. I know that my way of fashion is not for everyone. I love that about God

{ The Cult Next Door } at: October 3, 2010 at 7:15 AM said...

Thank you so much for writing about this!
I came from an ultra-conservative church that made the women cover up any part of them that was noticably much time wasted on keeping rules that could have been used on loving God and each other.

{ Lynda } at: November 28, 2010 at 4:04 PM said...

I am always blessed by your tender heart. This was written with such calm, understanding. Thank you for your willingness to minister is such a kind manner.

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