The New Life

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I was pretty shocked when I began to hear the Lord speak quietly to my heart that it was time to quit church.  “Not so, Lord,” I said, in the spirit of Peter from Acts 10 and 11.

 

But I finally relented.  . . . Although it seemed as though I was having an inner temper tantrum in my “obedience” to my Lord and Master, Jesus the Messiah.  (Good job, Lisa.)

 

The following Sunday, it was a huge surprise to me when Jesus made Himself known.  His presence was manifested to me. “Oh!!  Jesus!”  I said.  “Well, hello there!  It’s been so long!”  And His glorious joy was poured out to my spirit.

 

Of course He had never left me nor forsaken me.  But I had forsaken Him.  For 15 years.  Why?  Well, heck, I was trying to be a “good Christian.”

 

Before quitting church, the Lord had been stripping me of a belief system that was based on rules and regulations.  I was all about, “you have to do this, and you shouldn’t do that.”

 

He led me to quit church in 2004, and by 2006 the only ‘law’ I was still holding on to tenaciously was that we  “have to ask forgiveness for our sins.”  Finally, the Lord gently removed that one last requirement through learning the proper meaning of 1 John 1:8&9.  Simply put, John was speaking to unbelievers (most likely the Gnostics in his audience) in verses 8 and 9 of chapter 1.

 

So, I came to understand that I did not have to ask for forgiveness; that His death on the cross had already accomplished my forgiveness, and I simply had to believe that “it is finished.”

 

Realizing that I no longer had a Christian To-Do List, there was simply nothing left for me to do.  Except to love Him back.  To trust Him.  To rely on Him.  To depend on Him.  I began to live my life in a totally different way.  I trusted Him to lead me and guide me.

 

The way I parented our three kids became completely different; the way I viewed God began to line up with reality; I began to give my husband grace, and stopped trying to change him into a repentant and obedient ‘godly man.’  The TREE OF LIFE became my daily food; I had left behind the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  I now live every day with Jesus, worshiping Him in spirit and in truth.  It’s a glorious life.

 

And if you’re wondering, no, I don’t go to “church.”  Well, I never went back to “formalized” church.  Yet to this day, I do gather together with believers on a regular basis, and there is more true fellowship in my life now than there ever was in the days when I went to church four times a week

God is our Teacher

God can and will teach the truth to His children.  He explained the gospel to me without me even asking Him to.  The following is a journal entry from December 9, 1991, just three months after my salvation.

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Dear Diary, 

God gave me understanding today as I was taking a shower. Thank You, Jesus, my God. My wonderful, loving God! I didn’t even ask for this – but I needed it. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for knowing my needs. God revealed to me the fall of man. 

Before sin, Adam and Eve were in perfect union with God. They had a perfect relationship. That is why and how God created us to be. Adam and Eve lived in perfect peace and happiness. Then Satan came along, stealing God’s serpent to speak through and tempted Adam and Eve to commit sin.

“No, God’s word is that we can’t do that.”

Satan said, “Oh, c’mon, you believe God’s word? Would he really punish you? He’s God. Did he really say that? C’mon, do what I say and you will know what evil is. Your eyes will be opened. You will know all things.”

O.K., they said. They were tempted and they followed and they sinned against their father’s word. God was grieved – he was hurt. Now they could see good and evil. Now they were unclean, unworthy of God.

God could not change what happened. He created us with the free will to choose him or to reject him. Adam and Eve chose to reject God. So the punishment for sin is death. Sin would have to lead to death. Sin had to be killed.

As Adam and Eve procreated, all their children were born as they were – separated from God by their sin. Nothing they could do could change that fact. We are born ungodly creatures. We are born as children of the devil. Our bodies are destined to death. Sin is contained inside our flesh and our soul. But God desires and yearns for his creation.

God does not want any of us to perish. But when he saw how sinful we had become, he sent a great flood and wiped out most everyone. That didn’t work. Then he sent us the 10 commandments and the Law spoken through prophets. It was written down and called Scripture. But the law couldn’t save us or take away our sinful flesh. God told us that he would send us a son. He said a child would be born by a virgin.

This child was born and he claimed to be God himself. But his words were rejected. He was hated and eventually was killed. The blood He shed on that cross fulfilled God’s word. That blood took away our sins. God rose from the dead and therefore overcame death. Satan was defeated, forever. But since we are sinful, we must now turn from our sin and accept God.

If we don’t believe that God’s blood was shed on the cross as a sacrifice to us, then how can we be saved? If we don’t believe, we are still living in sin. We remain as simply a creation that has rejected God.

When we come to believe in Jesus’ sacrifice and that God rose him from death, then we become God’s adopted child and heirs to his kingdom.

How are we saved? All one has to do to be saved and to have eternal life in Jesus Christ is to truly believe that Jesus was sent to save us from our sins. That takes a leap of faith. Believing that is all you have to do. Then, to secure your salvation he sends the Holy Spirit to live inside of you.

Once you have the Holy Spirit – you are saved and you know it. You may not realize it is the Holy Spirit at first, but you will feel a rebirth. You are no longer the same person. You have been made whiter than snow on the inside. God now can see us and have a relationship with us. Because, when God looks at you, he sees the pure blood of Jesus. You are now justified. You have been born-again.

All you have to do to be saved is to believe that Jesus was sent from God to die for us, and that he was raised from his death. You believe by faith, and you are saved through God’s grace. Ask God for the faith to believe. Ask God to reveal your sin to you.

God, help me to understand salvation. I want to share it with everyone. Lord, I want to be with you in heaven. I desire to love you, God. I want to obey.

(End of diary entry / December 9, 1991)

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Again . . . I had only been saved for three months when I wrote this down.  This diary entry from 1991 was inspired by God — He gave me His insight — yet, at the time, I did not have a complete understanding of the gospel; I did not fully understand Law versus Grace or the Old Covenant versus the New Covenant.  And because I did not have a complete grasp on our total forgiveness in Christ Jesus, I would end up being led astray by legalistic teaching.  I would end up spending the next 15 years trapped in a cage of deception.  I explain my story of being led out of that cage here.  (And for a much more detailed version, check out my testimony here.)

April 3, 2019  4:12 AM

But Lord, I don’t want to quit church!

Have you ever been fully devoted to your religion?  Did you love going to church, mass, mosque or to temple?  Were you in love with the personal elevation that your commitment provided?

Did God begin to tug at your heart and say, “Let it go”?

And then did you reply as did Peter, “Not so, Lord!”?  . . . But eventually you surrendered to Him?

If you once depended on the acceptance that you received from others at church, and the purpose that your obedience to your religion gave you, and if you have walked away . . .  then you are a rare specimen whom I’d like to meet (leave a comment below!), just like Suzette once did.

Suzette left a comment on one of my blog posts this summer, and from there an email correspondence began.  Two weeks later, in August 2017, despite the fact that our homes are 1,200 miles apart, we were able to meet in person!  While traveling to a family wedding, my three teenagers and I needed to wait around the Sacramento airport for a few hours before my husband’s arrival.  Turns out it was Suzette’s day off of work.  As my kids sat and stared at their phones, I got to meet my new sister in Christ and fellowship with her amidst all the Baggage Claim carousels.  🙂

Despite the groovy God-oincidence that allowed us to meet face-to-face, what has actually bonded our friendship is our shared experience with being die-hard legalists.

We didn’t burn out, we were pulled out of Church by God’s direction.

Having been set free for ten years now, I have come to realize that people like Suzette and I are unique.  It seems that most people tire of their Churchianity slowly, like the fire from a candle that has been burning for hours and slowly extinguishes itself.

Suzette and I, on the other hand, were more like a firework that was sparkling and alive one minute, and then completely gone the next.  As a Bible Study leader once told me, “Oh!  You were a modern-day-Pharisee.  That’s pretty rare!”

Of course, that wasn’t true.  Nobody has ever come close to the ambitious zeal of the Pharisees.

“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  (Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 5:20)

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that Suzette and I loved church.  Why?  It gave us an outlet for our religious pride!

We loved how much “better” we were compared to those lesser folks who didn’t work as hard.  We loved how good we were at obeying all of the rules.  We loved how important we were in the eyes of others.  We were convinced that we were “serving God,” and we loved that!  It’s gross, isn’t it!?  That is what the sin of religious pride feels like, and it sickens me to remember those times.  Obvioulsy we were totally deceived and in error, but nonetheless, the fact remains:  church energized us.

If you are in the same boat, and if God is tugging at your heart to quit church . . . please follow His leading.  Don’t be afraid.  If the Lord is leading you that way, say, Yes, Lord!

Jesus wants to set you free from the bondage of religion.  He wants to be your God, instead of church being your god.  Trust Him!  You won’t be disappointed.

You will no longer be wandering in the wilderness of Sinai; He will bring you into the New Covenant.  He will lead you right through the door which is Jesus Christ Himself, and He will plant you by the green pastures and still waters of the Promised Land of Rest.

Allow your legalism to kill you.  Whether it’s the rules of your denomination or the 613 Mosaic Laws themselves, allow the Law to kill you.

Paul said, “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.” Galatians 2:19

Believe the truth that you are completely forgiven, and that He now loves and accepts you on the basis of you being a new creation in Christ.

Allow the Law to kill you so that you might die to the Law and begin living in a close relationship with your God, the Lord Jesus Christ.  And if you’d like to hear more on this topic, please check out my blog:  Outside of Churchianity.

 

October 13, 2017