Jesus Is Enough OR Salvation By Works?

Writing the last three posts on the HRM has been a daunting task. I had to be brutally honest with myself and my failure to see the deception I was being sucked into, if only it lasted for a couple of months…

However, as I have mentioned before, I have gained an even deeper appreciation for a daily study of God’s Word. I have come to a place of knowing that if I become deeply rooted in Christ and his Word, nothing will separate me from his love…

“In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

I have also come to a grievous realization that many Christian groups – who may denounce the HRM and other obviously false doctrines and/or faiths (like Mormons, Jehowah’s Witnesses, etc.) – are guilty of the same thing they accuse these groups of doing…

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“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Salvation by works…

Although many of the HRM-associated groups will argue that they do not preach “salvation by works,” they do so even while downright denying it. I have heard everything from “If you don’t keep the Torah, you are in willful disobedience to the Father” to “The believers who consciously reject the truth, (keeping the Torah), will be cursed or will perish along with the unbelievers.”

Interestingly, my journey to finding the truth about the HRM, gave me an insight into another Christian group. The conservative branch of Evangelical Christian Baptists.

I was born into a conservative Baptist family. My father was a pastor of a conservative Baptist church. As far as I can remember, I was always involved in my church – reciting Christian poems in church services, singing with the youth choir, accompanying the church choirs, etc.

As a teen, I went to youth conferences, which were arranged by the leaders from different churches in our area. These conferences were done with a purpose to get the young people closer to the Lord.

Unfortunately, only one message stands out in my mind from the numerous conferences I attended in my teens. “You are a letter from Christ (2 Corinthians 3:3) and you need to LOOK like a letter from Christ.” The focus was on how a believer in Christ needs to look like

"For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Romans 3:20-24
“For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:20-24

The young women were often singled out, as the leaders of the conservative churches felt that their outward appearance was unworthy of believers in Christ. Teachings like “no pants, the appropriate length of skirts, appropriate décolletage, appropriate hairstyle, no makeup,” were sadly all I remember from those conferences…

Were they focusing on Jesus and how he can change a person heart from the inside out? Perhaps they thought they were. Perhaps the intent of those teachings was noble and not that of “we want more control and power over people.”

However, the most common fruit of these teachings was hypocrisy…

What I saw many young women do, and what I did myself was this: wear pants, put on makeup, curl hair (yes, curling hair was also forbidden at one time), when no one was looking or outside of the church.

And I HATED IT…

I hated myself for being a hypocrite and I resented other people who I observed being hypocritical…

Men who preached from the pulpit about “holy living” but cheated on taxes. Women who scolded a girl for wearing a skirt an inch above her knees but had no problem gossiping. Older people who gave out judgmental looks from my head to my toes, but had no problem lying in order to get disability checks from the government…

All of this (along with some other things the enemy used) brought me to a place of rejecting God and my faith altogether… And the enemy still uses the same methods to get many more young people to reject their faith…

RELIGION. WHAT ABOUT A REAL RELATIONSHIP WITH CHRIST?

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“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” Titus 2:11-12

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

One young woman I had a chance to meet with in A Blessed Reunion With Old Friends noted this profound truth: “I do not think we ever understood what grace is… We heard the word over and over in the sermons. The word itself was in the church’s name. But did we really know what grace is?”

God’s grace is AMAZING! Only Jesus Christ has the power to change a human heart. NOTHING I try to do on my own accord (without the power of the Holy Spirit in my heart) will change me or make me better… NOTHING.

Once God became the master of my heart and the object of my affection, I had a desire to honor him in EVERYTHING.

I want to honor him by the words that I say. I want to honor him by every action. I want to honor him even when no one is watching… And this becomes possible as I let the Holy Spirit have full control… I am dead to sin and alive in Christ living in me. Romans 6.

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“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

Today I am grieving for those who are stuck in “religion.”

As JGIG puts it, “while the ‘mechanics’ of Judaizing or legalistic movements may be different from group to group and age to age, the underlying intent of the Enemy is the same:  To take your focus off of Jesus and to turn your focus back to yourself (what do I have to do to please God, what do I have to do to receive status in the kingdom, what do I have to do to stay saved, what must I do to be a part of the Bride, etc.).  The focus becomes very much on the flesh, and very little on the Spirit.”

I distinctly remember a recent meeting that took place with one of the elders from the conservative Baptist church I used to attend. With a disappointed look on his face he said, “Tanya, what happened to you? You used to be so HOLY! What happened to you?”

His reaction, I imagine, was due to the jewelry I was wearing… I smiled and said nothing. But thought to myself, “If you only knew what was in my heart then (when you thought I was “holy”) and what is in my heart now…

“You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:1-5

“For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” Galatians 2:19-21

 

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