fall from grace

Posted: November 16th, 2009 | Filed under: God, life | Tags: , | 11 Comments »

I’ve always been turned off by the idea of a denomination making their employees, church members or college students sign a contract of rules they will obey in order to be in their position. So many of the people who sign it knowing that they don’t see anything wrong with some of the prohibited actions and they don’t necessarily plan on following the rules. Only, later they feel guilted into obeying the contract that they put their signature to.

They’ve been harnessed like animals to rules that were designed to benefit them. Instead of religious organizations trusting the individual relationship with God, they create pockets of entrapment for the people who made their mark by the ‘x’.

When anyone complies with any rule-keeping system, they throw away the gift of freedom that Jesus earned for them.

I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. -Galatians 5:2

The only reason to submit to a set of rules for moral conduct is because you don’t believe that what Jesus did was enough. That is the small print on the bottom line. You believe that your sin is more powerful than His crucifixion. He’s not enough for you. We are supposed to take a stand against fear driven religious legalism because of our faith in the finished work of Jesus.

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you. -Galatians 5:1

This should alarm you. If you submit to a set of rules, the rules become your master. You can’t serve two masters. These religious organizations, in trying to do a good thing, are causing you to choose between your job, your church, your education, or Jesus.

No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.Matthew 6:24 NIV

It’s a wolf who looks like a sheep. It’s a trap.

Choose who you will serve. If choosing Jesus and freedom are not options because you want to work for your denomination, be a member of your church or go to a Christian University, then choose your religion. Choose who your predecessors chose. Choose what tradition tells you to choose…‘but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’ (Josh24:15) A signed contract trades ownership from Jesus to the rules.

Most people believe that ‘falling from grace’ means ‘to sin.’ However, grace is forgiveness of sins. If you don’t sin, then you don’t need grace. Falling from grace is following a set of rules to keep yourself from sin.

I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. -Galatians 5:4

Ignoring religion and devoting yourself to it are both dead ends. God has set things up to where you can’t win within yourself. You are bound to your need for Jesus.

So, what do we do with our freedom? Obviously we can’t win by doing whatever we want and we can’t win by obeying all the rules. The only way to keep your freedom is to live selflessly. Whatever that means to you. The root of sin is self, so if you live selfless, then you are not looking for your own gain and your not focusing on your rule abiding abilities.

For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. -Galatians 5:17

Selfless people are free to love. That’s why we were set free. To love.

Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. -Galatians 5:23

When you actually know what this whole thing is all about, you don’t worry about yourself anymore and you don’t worry about the way others perceive you and your relationship with God. You are not like anyone else, you have your own flavor. As long as you’re not trying to get your own way or trying to keep yourself clean, then you can just be.

When you hear this stuff, you have to let it move beyond sentiment. Feel it change you. Feel the truth set you free.

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original. -Galatians 5:25-26

inspired by Galatians 5


11 Comments on “fall from grace”

  1. 1 April said at 2:29 am on November 16th, 2009:

    Serena. You put things into such a fresh new perspective for me. A perspective that I so need. I always trusted whatever the preacher said… until lately I never asked God.

  2. 2 Lisa Wade said at 5:53 am on November 16th, 2009:

    Thank you serena. I wish a copy of this could besent to EVERY person in EVERY church.

    For YEARS I have been saying JUST THIS and though finding a church in '03 that I truly thought was different, I found out different.

    Home church, cell groups, whatever one chooses to call them these days are exactly what they had in Biblical times. They only went to temple once a year. They met in one anothers homes and sang and praised, and WORSHIPED GOD. Simple, true and with great love!!!

    Thank you again. Keep it coming sister!!!

    BTW: I ordered your book. It should be here any day now. Can't wait.

    Always…In His Grip!!!


  3. 3 Jodie said at 6:12 am on November 16th, 2009:

    This is beautiful – I love it.

    I'm new to your blog – I've only been coming for about a week, but I'm gripped. Keep it up.

  4. 4 Andrew said at 7:00 am on November 16th, 2009:

    Well put. I think that the fact that we are free agents escapes people so easily as high-level esoteric philosophy, when it's really so central. The universe is set up in such an individually-important yet world-centric way that oversimplification such as contracts and well-intended coercive mandates are so ineffective at changing hearts and reorienting lives.

    Thanks for the breath of fresh air.

  5. 5 mandie said at 8:34 am on November 16th, 2009:

    Love this, Serena! So true!

  6. 6 janelle said at 10:15 am on November 16th, 2009:

    "The root of sin is self, so if you live selfless, then you are not looking for your own gain and your not focusing on your rule abiding abilities." ABSOLUTELY – live selflessly and

    as a servant, and life is so free! Grace abounds.

    love this one Serena. Thanks for sending

    the books through Ryan Garrett for me.

  7. 7 Sisterlisa said at 3:01 pm on November 16th, 2009:

    Serena, My mom brought this up to me about 8 months ago. She thinks that when you sign your name to a religious contract that it's like committing to some sort of evil 'spell'. I totally see your point. It brings in legalism. Sometimes though… like on a social network their are terms so people know the boundaries.

  8. 8 Ashley said at 4:52 pm on November 16th, 2009:

    You are the first person I have ever heard describe "falling from grace" like this. After we talked about it a few weeks ago, it has stuck with me. Makes so much sense, but never heard it put like this. I needed you last night. 🙂 It went fine. I will be glad when Ryan is home to lead and not me!! And…now I know who "janelle" is!

  9. 9 Serena Woods said at 6:16 pm on November 16th, 2009:

    April• I'm glad. I hope to at least make people study for themselves when they think I'm crazy. 😉

    Lisa• There will never be a perfect church. Take the good with the 'Human.' Be the difference you want to see.

    Jodie• Welcome!

    Andrew• I used my google to get what you said. 🙂 Glad to send a breath of fresh air.

    Thanks, Mandie!

    Janelle• You're welcome!! (thanks for spreading the word.)

    Lisa• Terms like: 'Don't smoke in the sanctuary' or 'No shirt, no shoes: no Communion' I can respect. Not terms like: 'No dancing' or 'no R-rated movies.'

    Ashley• I've been waiting to hear about it….

  10. 10 Lindsey @ A New Life said at 3:55 am on November 17th, 2009:

    So, our church does have a covenant we sign when we pursue membership- I pulled it out to look at it and re-read it; and I wanted to point out that not all covenants are based on following legalistic rules, which is what I think you are addressing here.

    Ours is based on scriptural truths, teaches the meaning of grace for sinners and how to have authentic community, and outlines biblical discipline (not man-made discipline).

    All to say that I think it is up to the individual to prayerfully discern if what is being laid out or presented as "rules" are biblically based or not.

    I love the reminder that we are all unique, and that feeling/believing the Truth outside of just following a list of "rules" or "guidelines" is imperative to spiritual maturity.

  11. 11 Sisterlisa said at 7:35 am on November 17th, 2009:

    I totally know what you mean Serena. One that actually caused a rift in my marriage was the 'no going to the theater' rule. My husband loves going to the movies and I had to decide if I would obey the church constitution or obey my husband. The 'pastor' said to 'obey God' but I know he meant 'obey the church constitution', but when I finally obeyed my husband the rift ceased to exist. Even rule keeping can hurt a marriage. He had felt like I was 'better than thou' and he began to see me as an ugly rule keeping task master. Then when my heart was ready to leave that place, he had been roped in tight. Holy Spirit pulled us out of there and we are now free. This kind of freedom is amazing. And people think that because we don't hold fast to the rule keeping that we are automatically in sin, but they have no idea. Our lives have been purified because we now know what it means to walk in the Spirit, in the Law of Love. Not in the letter of the Law.