For about 5 years I worshipped within the Messianic community, I was unhappy with Western Christianity and how it had been changed over the years to suit the reigning powers. I wanted to go back to how the original church lived and breathed.
There were definitely aspects that I loved but it was there that I first became aware of the heaviness of the LAW or TORAH.
Just like within mainstream Christianity it’s definitely a spectrum of where Believers fall but the most vocal are about obeying ALL the 613 commandments found in the Old Testament.
For a while, I actually tried to live like this but the end result is that it made me works focused and also other focused. I began to judge myself and others based on whether they were fulfilling the laws, one of the biggest being the Sabbath.
It got to a stage where I began to literally feel a darkness and coldness seeping into my soul, God seemed further and further away from me and I remember asking clearly one day “tell me how to find you again!” The response came back as “Remember my Son”. It hit me, I realised that in the pursuit of perfection by works I had fallen out of Grace and under the Law of Works and that if I had died in that state, that is exactly the law that would judge me. I repented and things began to change for me.
I didn’t leave the Messianic community but I shared a new truth that they seemed to be missing because whilst they had the knowledge, history and culture they seemed to be missing the understanding of what it means to live by Grace.
But I see the same religious mindset and judgement within Western Christianity, not always as extreme but there nevertheless. It’s a religious mindset that focuses on what you are NOT doing, your imperfections and areas of lack forcing you to rectify it in your own strength and through your own works.
The Bible teaches us that it is IMPOSSIBLE to fulfil the requirements of the Law, in fact, James says that if you fail in ONE you have failed in ALL (613) of them!
Whoever keeps the whole Law but stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. (James 2:10)
It condemns you (judges you as guilty of sin) because of our inability to keep it.
I’ve seen people who are STILL trying to live righteously in their own strength and effort, they are hard on themselves and are the first to point out other peoples frailties and weaknesses. They are often the saddest, stressed and most bitter of people but they’d never show it to you.
James ALSO speaks of another Law (yep, because God’s Law is never bad, it always serves a purpose). THIS Law is called the Perfect Law of Liberty (James 1:25).
James 1:25 says:
“But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom, and continues to do so—not being a forgetful hearer, but an effective doer—he will be blessed in what he does.”
When I renamed my FB group earlier on this year, I called it Liberated & Abundant Woman of Faith because I realised that there is a HUGE difference between a woman of Faith with a Liberated & Abundant Mindset and one with a Religious Mindset.
It’s because God showed me that true Liberty comes not from looking at our own weaknesses and missing pieces, but focusing our gaze intently on the perfection of Abundance and riches of GLORY in our Messiah that we are perfected (Phil 4:19).
It’s this TRUTH that enables me to stand with boldness, confidence and courage to trust God and trust myself even when others around me might finger-point and say “that’s not of God” or want to condemn me for going down a road that they see as wrong.
I’ve done that, I’ve lived a bound-up religious life which added sorrow and didn’t bless me, now I am soooooo thankful to know THE Truth that has and continues to set me free. As the WORD says, where the Spirit of YHWH is there is Liberty.
Does that mean that I DO NOT obey the Law? I do, but not in the same way, for example I still keep Shabbat but in my heart because I recognise that the Old Law pointed to Messiah as the Sabbath and that whilst a Physical rest day does exist, and the principle of rest is still important, I don’t have to fulfill the Sabbath obligations in order to be righteous in God’s eyes. I AM FREE to worship and walk my faith journey without fear of condemnation.
If you are REALLY peering intently into the Perfect law of Liberty you will see only what is Good, Pure & Lovely and you will ACT correspondingly. This is WHY it TRANSFORMS us instead of condemning or depressing us.