Tag: shame (Page 2 of 2)

Are you a Christian Pervert?

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.  -Galatians 1: 6-9

Grace is not a message, it’s not a theology, it’s not an idea, nor fad, it’s the Gospel.  If you don’t subscribe to the pure, complete, and full Grace of God in Jesus Christ, you don’t subscribe to the Gospel. There is not another Gospel, there is only One.  There is not one Gospel that saves you, and then another one that sustains and sanctifies you. There is not another Gospel where “God does His part but you must do your part.”

There is only one Gospel, “God does everything, because you can’t, you only need believe.” It’s all Grace, or it’s not the Gospel. When Jesus declared “it is finished,” there was no mixture. He didn’t say, “It is finished… but.”  At the cross of Jesus, life under the Law (religious rules you have to perform to please and access God) ended once and for all, life under Grace (Jesus’ performance on the cross which when believed, makes us new, right, pleasing, and seated with Christ at the right hand of God a part from our performance) began. The Gospel is not a little bit of Grace and a little bit of Law mixed together. It’s a all Grace or it’s not the Gospel.

We are no longer to live an “obedience of trying and striving” to follow the rules, but rather we are to live an “obedience of faith,” clinging on to the loveliness of Jesus and His performance, not our own. For the Gospel of Jesus Christ is all about Jesus, not about us. The Law presupposed there is something you can do, the Gospel presupposes there is nothing you can do, but Someone you can believe who did it all, and does it all on your behalf!

There is no Gospel that brings you to Jesus from His Grace only to summon you into a life of striving to please God and merit His favor once you have become saved.  There is no Gospel that makes you (as a believer) into a twisted, two natured person; one part evil, and one part divine who never knows who he or she really is from one day to the next, nor has the assurance of their true identity in Christ, and is simply left to fight an inner battle Jesus already won.  There is no Gospel that sets you on a course of sin-consciousness where you must repeatedly ask God to forgive you even though He has already done so. There is no Gospel that burdens you with performance-driven talks and steps for you to achieve to increase your reputation with God and His desire to bless your life, only to leave you secretly feeling like a hypocrite because you know you can never do everything all the time to be seen as a true, genuine faithful follower of Jesus. There is no Gospel that is soft on sin when Jesus gave all of Himself to defeat it. There is no Gospel that is hard on sinners when Jesus gave all of Himself for them.  There is no Gospel that makes the Church into a legalist club for Christians with a cross on top filled with self-righteous believers who take inner pleasure on raising the sins of others as being more serious than their own. There is no Gospel that treats the Church, it’s purpose, and leadership as a man-centered, performance-dependent venture, or a chasing of the ego’s pursuit to take some part of the credit and glory for the building of the Kindgom. There is no Gospel that sets the believer onto a discipleship series of steps, rituals, and religious activities that appease God, turn His frown upside down, and give you smiley faces on God’s divine chalkboard.  There is no Gospel like any of this.

It’s all Jesus, all Him, all Grace, all His performance, all His work, all His faithfulness, all His mercy, favor, and blessing, received through faith alone, or it’s not the Gospel.  If it’s any other version, it’s a perversion.

In the Bible passage above, Paul identifies the true perverts of the world. Not sex offenders, not homosexuals, not child porn viewers, as evil and terrible as they are. No, rather, he speaks of Christians who turn away from or turn the Gospel of God’s Grace in Jesus Christ into another Gospel that is, in fact, not a Gospel.  At this point, you should either say, “Amen!” or “Ouch!”

The only documented places in scripture where Jesus gets mad or the Spirit is grieved is when Grace is not extended. Not rules, condemnation, religious activities, performance steps, or obedience speeches.  Paul echoes God’s heart and view on the matter as he declares that those who turn the Gospel of Grace into any other version should be “accursed.”

Right believing leads to right living. You can’t live the Gospel day to day into you believe it all the way.  An obedience problem is at heart an identity problem. You will never know who you truly are until you believe in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Faith is what pleases God, not your performance. Faith is what makes His performance become your performance.  Faith is the root, obedience is the fruit. We walk by faith, not by sight, or might.

Are you a Christian pervert? Repent (change your mind) and believe in the Gospel.

 

The Secret Behind Your Inner Struggles

For many years, I lived a life where I was ruled by insecurity, worry, guilt, and failure. I was pouring a lot of effort into trying to be a better person, but with no real success.  Many inner (and outer) aspects of my life were a struggle at some level or another.  My thought life and self-talk were overly negative, my faith was riddled with doubts, and my character was lacking and cracking.

I am sure there were contributing factors, including a difficult childhood. Yet, the bottom line was, like many people, I became ruled by my inner struggles to the point they were allowed the power to define much of my life. Even worse, I didn’t realize the effect this was having… spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  I suspect a lot of people currently walk around like I did, where the outside might look all put together, but the inside… not so much.

When I was a boy, part of my chores during the summertime was to pick the prickle weeds from our 2 acre lawn. This task would take hours each weekend as the prickle weeds quickly grew back during the week.  One Saturday morning, my dad gently pulled me aside and instructed me to adjust my strategy and pick the prickle weeds out by their root, instead of justing cutting off what appeared on the surface. He suggested in a whisper, “This will keep you from having to do this every weekend because they won’t grow back”  He was right, taking a little more time to pick them from the root saved me a lot of time later.

We all have weeds in the lawn of our inner lives… pain, guilt, insecurity, failures, inadequacies, worry, fear, secrets, doubts etc.  Each and every day we spend hours of mental and emotionally energy trying to keep these weeds from showing up as we attempt to trim the surface of our lives. Yet, the same struggles keep growing back, hour after hour, day after day, week after week. Why? Because we never get to the root.

And yet, our heavenly father gently pulls us aside and says, “If you like, I can show you the root of your inner struggles and how they can be healed.”

Condemnation is the Root of your Struggles  

The deepest and most subtle card Satan can play to steal, kill, and destroy from your life is condemnation. Condemnation seeks to have you conclude that you are guilty as something or for something and that your circumstances or actions are doomed to or already determine a negative conclusion. Something is wrong with you and/or your actions that define you and/or your future as lacking in some way. Condemnation produces stress an causes us to feel like if there is any chance to move forward, we will need to perform our way out.  Yet, most of the time, condemnation cuts right to the chase and sends the message, “there is no way out, no matter what you do.”

Condemnation comes in almost limitless forms, and Satan loves to plant it in our spirits in often very subtle ways.

In fact, I am convinced that the reason why many men don’t attend church is because of Satan’s success at sowing in them a spirit of condemnation.  At home, their wives unknowingly take cues out of Satan’s play book as they send a subtle or not so subtle message that their husbands are behind spiritually and will never catch up to their expectations.  The message is quite clear no matter how it is packaged, they aren’t doing what they should be doing for their spouse, children, and family. Condemnation, condemnation, and more condemnation. Additionally, once they do come to church, they are given message after message of how their behavior doesn’t make the grade and they are failing as fathers, husbands, and men. And very likely, if they ever do finally come to church, the pastor greets them with a “Hey dude, where have you been? It’s been like years since you have been at church.”   For most men, they are insecure enough already, and Satan just loves to add on more and more messages of condemnation to cage them in.

Satan loves to take what is intended as constructive correction and shape it into condemnation through an inner thought life of insecurity and shame. And the messages of condemnation are everywhere in our culture for men and women alike to absorb.  It’s the look in their eye as they size you up, the model on the cover of a magazine that you can never live up to, it’s your employer who never seems satisfied with your work, it’s the correction that leads to you to concluding that you should be ashamed and filled with guilt, it’s the joy or rewarding of another that leaves you comparing and concluding yourself as less of a person.

Condemnation is the root, and  things like insecurity, stress, disease, pride, fear, anxiety, depression, religion, legalism, anger, impulsive decisions, perfectionism, performance, a critical spirit, rules, shame, and guilt are the fruit. All of the areas of your life where you find inner struggle can be traced back to a spirit or feeling of condemnation Satan has sowed in that or some connected area of your life.

The ultimate healing in your life is when God’s Grace is applied through faith to the deepest and widest areas of condemnation in your life. Grace is the ultimate game changer!

Condemnation blocks God’s Favor

God has extravagant, endless favor for your life. His mercy and transforming power are miraculous. That’s why one of the greatest costs of condemnation is that when you believe it about yourself, segments of yourself, or your circumstances, it blocks God’s favor. Why? Because the result of condemnation is disbelief, and God’s favor will not move in your life without your faith. A person who feels condemned is not going to truly believe in the love and Grace of God for their life.  They might go to church, sing the songs, say the prayers, and go through the motions, but they don’t truly believe in the loveliness of Jesus and His complete and thorough Grace for their life. Instead, they hold onto some portion of their performance (or bad performance) in life, works, and obedience (or disobedience) for their sense of security and identity. This blocks the release of God’s favor because they are putting their faith in themselves rather in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. As you believe it, you receive it, as you receive it, you live it.

The true, comprehensive graciousness of God releases us to truly put our entire faith in Jesus, and faith releases God to move in our lives. It doesn’t take a lot of faith, but it does take faith. Condemnation is the great faith-killer, that’s why it’s Satan most priced weapon to steal, kill, and destroy in your life.

Yet, God says, “There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1. The job of the Holy Spirit in the non-believer’s life is to convict (not condemn) that person of their disbelief (or wrong belief) in Jesus. The job of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life is to convince that person of their righteousness in Christ.  God’s wants people to first get the identity of His Son Jesus right through faith, and then get their own identity right as forgiven, righteous children and sons of God, also through faith.

Condemnation Poisons your Identity

In the same way, condemnation poisons your identity. Satan knows if he can get you to believe the wrong things about yourself, he can easily get you to do the wrong things in life. An obedience problem is always first an identity problem. The Bible says, “as a man thinks, so he is.”  God wants you believe that in Christ you have everything and are everything, Satan wants you to believe you are nothing and lack everything.

Condemnation is the root of all insecurity and identity distortion.

What you believe about yourself can only be cured by what you believe about God and His work in and on behalf of your life. When you see and believe in the loveliness of Jesus and His Grace for your life you will see and believe in the loveliness of you. The quality of Jesus becomes the quality of you.

In fact, the bible states that, “if you are in Christ, you are a new creation.”  You’re sins, past, present and future, have all been forgiven. You are the righteousness of Christ, with nothing “wrong” with you.  You lack nothing and have every spiritual blessing. You are a partaker of the divine nature. Greater is He that lives in you than is in the world. You are no longer defined by your performance, but by the beauty of Jesus and His finishing work on the cross.  You stand with no condemnation in your life. Guilt and same need no longer to rule your heart and actions. You are totally complete in Christ.

Satan wants to reduce or completely take away your sense of who you truly are. His greatest weapon to do so is condemnation.

 

Moving Away from Insecurity

So, do you want the real solution to insecurity?

I believe as the Bible declares, “as a man thinks in his heart, so he is.”  The way we see ourselves is foundational to how we go about living our lives, especially when it comes to dealing with things like insecurity. This is a critical truth to understand. Identity problems lead to living-life problems. It’s hard for people to make you feel insecure about something in your life that you first don’t have a certain amount of insecurity about within yourself.

Much of how we see ourselves (our identity) has been influenced by how we believe God sees us, even if the reality of God hasn’t been a significant topic of care or concern in your life. The perceived reality of or absence of God is a concept all humans give much mental and emotional attention, and much of the conclusion we draw are of great influence on our thoughts and conclusions about ourselves.

It is our sense of identity that has tremendous influence in our security of self. Whether we are secure or insecure as a person has much to do with our sense of identity. The challenge is, in order to truly deal with issues of security and insecurity in our lives, we need to examine our beliefs about God and our beliefs about our self in order to get to the root and vines of insecurity. For it is within our identity (which is deeply influenced from our sense of God) that we find the issues and remedy for insecurity.

With that in mind, not that I want to box in or label anyone, but for the sake of this post, there is one of 3 general categories people will likely fit into when it comes to their beliefs about God and how they are worked out in their lives, especially their identity.

Category 1) You don’t see Jesus as your Savior.

Category 2) You see Jesus as your Savior, but still live your life with a reoccurring sense of condemnation, guilt, and lack.

Category 3) You see Jesus as your Savior, and live you life with no sense of condemnation and believe you lack nothing.

All three of these have critical things in common. All three bottom line on 1) how you see (or what you believe about) Jesus 2) how you see yourself 3) how you see that your life should be lived. Additionally, depending on which category you fit into best, each will have a huge impact on your sense of security in self. In fact, only one category truly leads to having victory over insecurity, the other two lead to insecurity.

Let’s take a closer look into each of these categories as you discern into which one you might best fit.

People in Category 1 don’t see Jesus as their Savior. To them, He might be a very wise teacher, a very spiritual man, or simply a great motivator, but He is not seen as their Savior.  Some people in this category don’t see Jesus as their Savior because they have intellectual issues with doing so. Perhaps they don’t even believe there is a god at all or that all religions represent or lead to God. Others don’t see Jesus as their Savior because they are applying other methods and solutions to remedy or improve their life. They don’t see Jesus as their Savior because they believe in simple terms they don’t  really need to. Some are outwardly satisfied with their lives as is, feel they can make it through on their own, or don’t believe they need anyone or anything to “save” them.

People in Category 2 are Christians by profession. They believe they need Jesus and that Jesus died for their sins.  Yet, they believe that their closeness with God and many other aspects of their current life with God are based on their spiritual performance.  Though they might be saved, much of God’s presence and blessing are based on their performance in life. As a Christian, they believe they need to continually ask God for forgiveness to maintain their right standing with God.  They believe that they are still by nature, prone to sin and must battle to feed the old self (they believe still exists within themselves) more than then new self in order to have victory. When they sin, they still harbor levels of shame and guilt as they conclude God’s judgement and condemnation are still upon them. For them, God’s punishment is an every present possibility, and whether or not His favor is upon them is in direct proportion to their performance.  Though they received God’s salvation through a sure sense of Grace, they approach their spiritual walk with a sense that God’s love for them and His work in their life has many conditional elements upon which their performance hinges.  They tend to believe that  too much Grace leads to furthering a life of sin and encouraging unfaithfulness. Beyond having faith and belief, their efforts are seen as a critically important part of determining the closeness, stability, and standing of their relationship with God. For them, a primary job of the Holy Spirit is to convict both the unbeliever and the believer of their sin.

People in Category 3 are Christians by faith. They believe they need Jesus and that Jesus died for their sins. Yet, they believe that they have become completely new creations (creatures) in Christ.  Other than their earthly flesh, their entire self including their old sinful (Adam) nature is completely gone as it was crucified with Christ. As a new person, they see themselves as the righteousness of Christ, receiving every spiritual blessing, having had their sins (past, present, and future) forgiven on the cross. They don’t believe it is any longer their core nature to sin, but rather that sin has now become unnatural to them.  Additionally, they don’t believe they need to continually ask God to forgive them (sin that was accomplished on the cross) but rather to continually apply their faith in His finished work on the cross, knowing that it is not their performance that determines their standing, closeness, or favor with God, but rather their standing that is to determine their performance.  Their spiritually life is not a battle between two natures within themselves, but rather the desires of the flesh verses the leading of the Spirit of God.  For them, the primary job of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of their unbelief of Jesus and convince believers of their righteousness in Christ. They believe that having been given Grace and having been graced with many blessings, it is their privilege, passion, and honor to live their lives diligently building the Kingdom and cooperating with the Spirit’s work in their life. It is because God first loved them that they love.

So let’s talk about how these categories effect our identities and thus our sense of security in self.

For those in category 1, their identities are based on their performance, other’s opinions, or the circumstances around their life. If they believe in a different religion than Christianity, their belief system will dictate that much of their standing with God and His feeling towards them are directly related to what they do or don’t do in life.  All other religions apart from Christianity have this conditional moving-upward-to-God system of beliefs. If they don’t believe in God, they are left with themselves, others, and/or their circumstances as the source of their identity and self evaluation.

At times, for those in category 1, the opinions of other have a profound influence on their opinion of themselves. Furthermore, the circumstances of their life have a great impact on their self evaluation. Many internal and external factors dictate their self esteem. For example, for some, if their physical appearance is pleasing, they feel adequate. Perhaps for others, if their financial circumstances cast them in a positive light, they feel good about themselves.  With or without their religion, there are many “ifs” in their performance or circumstances that have a strong baring on their identity and self-esteem.

For these reasons, insecurity is common for those in category 1.  Our ability to perform and get things right certainly fluctuates as so does the opinion of others and our circumstances.  When our abilities, outward circumstances, and the opinions of others become the source of our identity, insecurity is just a mistake, inadequacy, misfortune, or rejection away.

For those in category 2, though they might feel that their eternal identity may be secure (though not all Christians agree in this) in Christ, much of their relationship with God in the here and now is not.  Sadly, as with category 1, much of their identity is based on their performance as a Christian. Though many would claim they are “forgiven” their trust and sense of identity is measured much more by the level of their faithfulness, particularly in the area of obedience. For some, when they see they fall short in their faithfulness, they resign themselves to an identity as a “sinner saved by grace” having the identity of a “sinner” as their core sense of self.  Many Christians in category 2 live their lives with significant layers of guilt and shame and find it very hard to apply forgiveness to themselves, believing deep down that they are unworthy of continued Grace or that they are still under a certain amount of condemnation. They conclude that God may have forgiven them, but he certainly isn’t happy, nor does he like them, and therefore, might withhold His favor and blessing at any given moment. Many Christians in category 2 see their identity as both sinful and yet forgiven with a sense of having two opposing natures. The goal therefore of a Christian in category 2 is to subdue the old self and somehow stay true to the new self. Here again, it’s their effort and performance in this area that is used to evaluate not only their closeness with God but also how God feels about them and thus their sense of self. Indeed, there are many performance based Christians that turn to their efforts, work, and making headway for significant aspects of their esteem.

For these reasons, insecurity is common for those in category 2. In fact, you may find as many religious Christians being as insecure as people who don’t share in their Christian profession. Since so much of their stance with God hinges on their performance, the foundation for a secure identity is shaky at best. Furthermore, since they believe God still looks against them when they sin (a distance and disgust is created) and their nature is divided between good and evil, they see themselves as broken people who are sinners at heart.  If only they could pray more, do more, take more steps, and sin less, they would feel secure in themselves. This is at the core of the religious spirit that infects many Christians today.

For those in category 3, their faith in Christ is deeply connected to what Jesus did on their behalf. For them, they believe not only are all their sins forgiven (past, present, and future) but that God has remade them into a completely new person, with a new identity. When they sin, instead of believing this a moment where God’s condemnation, disgust, and distance are given and thus they should feel ashamed, they apply their faith in claiming their identity in Christ as forgiven, continually cleansed, and the righteousness of Christ. Sin does not define them.  This claiming by faith and applying Jesus finished work on the cross to their identities does not make sinning easier, but enables them to sin less.  Their performance in life doesn’t determine their stance with God, but rather, their stance with God determines their performance.  The emphasis in their identity isn’t placed on their work, but on Christ’s finished work applied to their life through faith. For them, the Old Covenantal system where so much of one’s relationship with God is based on following rules and being obedient has been fulfilled through Jesus, and a New Covenant of Grace has been brought through Jesus that focuses not on rules to produce obedience but rather through the Grace of God giving people a new identity and standing with God. The more you think you are a sinner at heart, the more you feel you need to perform in order to have God be on your side, the more you think God’s favor and blessing depends on you, the more you will rely on yourself and not on Jesus and ironically, the more you will be prone to sin. As the Bible declares, the strength of sin is the Law.  The more you place yourself under the rules, the more you end up disobeying them. For those in category 2, obedience is the root, faith is the fruit. For those in category 3, faith is the root, obedience is the fruit. The foundation is what is different.

For these reasons, people in category 3 have far less moments of insecurity in their life. When they do, they simply apply their faith in who they are in Christ and the assurance of God’s grace and their new life/identity in Christ. Instead of trying to improve their behaviors to make things right, they apply their faith that all is right because of Jesus, and thus their behaviors follow their identity. An obedience problem is first an identity problem. Jesus isn’t into behavior modification, but life transformation. To be sure, people in category 3 have learned the secret that you can’t become a secure person until you become a new person through Christ, and believe it about yourself.  Right belief leads to right living. Right belief in the pure Grace of God through Jesus applied through faith leads to secure living.

Let me encourage you today as you finish reading this post to become a person in the category 3 club.  God completely and perfectly loves you and has a “new you” ready to be given the moment your heart leaps to what He has done for you on the cross. A life of complete security, assurance, peace, and confidence is waiting for you, and it’s all wrapped up in one person, Jesus.  Walk in freedom and strength, and allow your old life of condemnation, shame, guilt, searching, emptiness, inadequacy, and insecurity to be put to death with Jesus on the cross, and a new life of wholeness, salvation, security and freedom be yours.

Looking forward to your thoughts…

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