Are We Making This Too Hard?
ARE WE MAKING THIS TOO HARD?
By Benjamin Raven Pressley
All of my life I have observed how many religious institutions have kept Christ just out of the reach of people. Preachers scream out His name from the pulpit followed by ‘Just As I Am’ and people come to the altar. Jesus gloriously saves all who come. Then the bidding for your soul begins. “Yes you are saved”, they say, “but now you gotta…” And then it begins. I have been there, done that and oh, buddy do I have the T-shirt to prove it! I remember when I got saved and filled with the Holy Spirit how free I was, indescribably free. I felt so clean, unfettered. Then it was you have to do this, you have to do that, you have to cut off this and grow out that and stop doing this. I remember one day I said to myself I felt more free before I was saved than I did now that I was saved. Now it is at this point that I believe a lot of people quit. They can’t live the life that is required of them. My encounter with Christ was too real though. I was not going to give up that easy. But something was definitely wrong. It is at this point that most people, if they have not gave up decide they will try harder. I am going to say something that may sound a little crazy to some of you out there: Trying harder can be just as bad as quitting. Trying harder is a trap that can lead to so much confusion and heartache. It is like being lost in a labyrinth. We go this way and that and just get more and more deeply lost. I mean, think about it, when will what you are doing be good enough? I knew this girl once who had a sincere desire to live for God and she bought every book by every Christian author that came out. I don’t doubt her desire and love for God, but, she was the most confused, bound person I ever knew. I counseled with her as her friend on many occasions. Last I heard she was in a bad marriage and doesn’t even live for Christ anymore. It is sad. My heart goes out to people like this. Maybe if you are reading this you are one of those people. If you are I have good news. You don’t have to be that way. You can be free.
In Galatians 3:2-3 it says: “ 2This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” So, here is the root of the problem. We are saved by grace, it is a work of God, a work of His Spirit. Then once we are saved we think we have to do the rest in our own strength, in our flesh as these verses put it. As Paul, the author of the book of Galatians puts it, it is foolish to even think we can be made perfect by any effort of our own. This is why so many live in such utter frustration and even condemnation. They are trying to live for God in the flesh, in their own works. You couldn’t save yourself from sin, that is why you came to Christ to begin with. Why do you think you can do it on your own now? According to Romans 11:6 it has to be one or the other. It has to be by grace or by works. Which is it? “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” That’s pretty plain, isn’t it? Before Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins people were supposed to live by the law as described in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17) and as described in the first five books of our Bible, known then as the Torah or Pentateuch. But early on people were told if they failed in even one point of the law they were guilty of all (Deuteronomy 27:26. Reiterated in James 2:10 and Galatians 3:10). That was why Jesus died on the cross in our place because He was the only one who was perfect. Our judgment was placed upon Him. He bought our salvation with His precious blood. If it could be done by works then Christ would not have had to come to suffer and die as He did. If you are truly born again His law is written on your heart (Romans 12:14-15).
I think people mean well and they really love God and their struggle to do things for God is not open rebellion. I believe most people sincerely want to live for God and think it is pleasing to God the way they are living for Him. After all they are doing good things, right? That being said though, sooner or later a person frantically trying to please God runs into that wall that they cannot climb. You know what wall I mean? That wall with that big billboard on it that says, “It’s not good enough. Climb this wall too.” Stop. Stop right where you are and receive this: God is pleased with you!
He is pleased with you because of what His son Jesus has accomplished and He is pleased you have believed that. You can’t add to what Jesus has done. God looks at those who have believed and sees His Son not the person. What could be better than that? Is it really that easy? Yes, it is really that easy. Am I saying you don’t have to live right and you can live any way you want? What I am saying is if you have really believed on the Lord Jesus Christ because you know you cannot live a righteous life in yourself, you have came to Him knowing you were a sinner and trusted Him for forgiveness of your sins, then—you won’t want to live any other way. Your desires will be changed. That is what that verse that says he will give you the desires of your heart means. In other words He will give you the desires you should have. You will be doing work for the kingdom because you want to, not because you have to or because you think you have to please God by your works—you will do it because you can’t help but do it because you are so in love with the Lord. Love will bubble over and flood out on others in abundance. You won’t be able to contain it. You will be drawn to His Holy Word. You will have a desire to worship and do kingdom work with other believers. You will want to forgive and tell others the gospel. Unsaved people often tell me, “Man, you must lead a pretty boring life. All you do is go to church and stuff.” I tell them, “Hey, I party all I want. I drink and smoke all I want—I just don’t want to!” Do you see the difference? If your desire is for the things of this world and you are having to make yourself live right, it could be you haven’t really been saved. That isn’t a judgment, it is just worth exploring. Ask the Holy Spirit like David did, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalms 139:23-24) Also meditate upon this prayer by David and see if it is a prayer you can pray from your heart: Psalms 51:1-17.
If you know that you are saved or “born again” as Jesus calls it in John 3:3 and you are living under this bondage of trying to please God and you want to be free to live and love the Lord like I am talking about it starts by having a relationship with God Himself. It isn’t about religion, that’s a man made thing; It is about relationship. It is also knowing who you are in Christ, knowing and believing what the Word says about you is more true than how you feel about it. When you realize who you are in Christ and what He has accomplished on your behalf then it will become natural for you to live for God. Not struggling. Not trying to pay a debt you think you owe. You will be transformed. You will be free.
I so want to see the people of God free. I so want you to be free. Do you know who you are in Christ? Are you sure? I covered who we are in Christ in other studies but if you missed that teaching or want another copy of it let me know. Don’t be lost in the labyrinth any longer. Determine yourself today and KNOW YOU ARE FREE.
YOU CAN’T PLEASE EVERYONE
By Alecia Bryant Roberts
One thing I’ve learned in my almost 51 years of life is that you can’t please everyone all the time. People will want you to say things, not say things, say things a certain way, do things, not do things, and make sure that what you do and say benefits them to some degree; they will talk about you behind your back instead of talking to you and not respect the fact that you are true to who you are and who you feel God wants you to be when you refuse to conform to the image they have in their mind of who and what they believe you should be.
For many years I isolated myself from people because of the feelings of inadequacy instilled in me over the years in never being able to please everyone all the time; not even some of the people some of the time, so it seemed. It’s never been in me to be anything other than who and what I am and trying to conform to the many variations of what others expected was far too overwhelming, so I retreated.
The only One who can transform me, any of us for that matter, is the Holy Spirit and other people are not my/our Holy Spirit. So, if I’m not what or who people think I should be, I’m sorry but I am who He has made me and that’s all I can be for today. Though I continue to submit to Him daily and try to the best of my ability to conform to His leading and transformation of me. So, if I or someone else are not where you feel we should be, who you think we should be, or doing what you feel we should be doing, praying for us is a great place to begin, especially if we’re in relationship with the Holy Spirit and seeking to be led by Him. I am most grateful for your prayers.
People pleasing is a pathway to certain failure and utter destruction and is nothing I’m interested in; really haven’t been in many years and that certainly hasn’t changed now. Instead of trying to please each other perhaps we should focus more on pleasing Him and others should be pleased with that, so it would seem.
Love me or hate me, I am who I am. I love deeply. I’m very protective of my family and those I call my friends. I often neglect myself in attempting to not let others down or disappoint them. All while knowing that it’s inevitable that I will because people always expect more than we can give. I’ve learned that lesson well from personal experiences many times over. I’m a firm believer in doing your best at whatever task you’re taking on and despise laziness though an occasional day of doing nothing is an awesome thing. I’m very fond of neat and orderly organization and structure. My family thinks that makes me difficult but it’s much easier to spend two seconds putting something up than wasting twenty minutes looking for it when you need it again. I’m very outspoken and honest; I don’t want to hurt you but I can’t lie to you because that hurts me. Some people don’t like me because my protective nature means calling them out on things they’re doing to hurt the very people they should be protecting too and when that doesn’t stop them, I will step in to warn and protect the individual myself because I don’t want to see anyone taken advantage of and/or hurt; yes, that speaks of my character but it does of theirs as well and yes, I’m usually the one who gets hurt because of it but I can’t just stop caring about people. I despise arrogance and selfishness. We’re all better than others at somethings and never as good as others at somethings but we’re all human beings that deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. I am very outspoken and don’t care about political correctness but am concerned with being real. Political correctness is a waste of time in a world facing real issues as people are dying. I have no desire or patience for political correctness. Does that mean I’m disrespectful? I certainly don’t think so. If people are hurt or offended by something I say, perhaps they should examine themselves and after some prayer, (please) come talk to me. I know I can be hard to handle because I’m real instead of fake because most people aren’t accustomed to people being real but I am approachable and always willing to listen. In fact, I love hearing fresh ideas, other opinions, different perspectives and healthy debates. I know some people call me not so nice names because of my strong will but only because they don’t understand how passionate and compassionate I really am.
Sadly, the majority of people, even those closest to us tend to have their own perception of reality through their own experiences. And then we have ours and the two are sometimes complete opposite views for whatever reason.
I’ve learned to just spend time with the Holy Spirit; listen intently, trust the only One I know you can trust, be obedient even when it can be frightening, remain true to who I believe He’s calling me to be and end each day knowing I’ve done these things to the best of my ability. If I try to do what everyone else tells me to do I will lose myself in various dissections of various opinions. The Holy Spirit is the ONLY One with constant consistency.
———Written by Alecia Bryan Roberts. Author of The Pursuit of Purpose. Alecia has quite a testimony of how she survived abuse and was rescued by her faith in Christ. She is now happily married. When her daughter Heather was 24 she was murdered by a drug overdose. You may read her story by clicking here. As devastating as this was her, her husband and some others decided to do something about and started the NORTH CAROLINA PARENTS COALITION FOR C.H.A.N.G.E.