Exchanging Works for a Relationship

By Teresa Ferraro

(Article from Life in the Son magazine #318)

Through the grace of our Father and the instruction of the Holy Spirit, after an exhaustive conversation with a dear friend, I came to an epiphany.

I’d had trouble recognizing law in general, anything outside of Moses’ Law. I wondered: Why should a Christian not try to live a good, clean life according to the Bible? It is the least one could do in appreciation of Christ’s sacrifice. James endorses works as a vital testament of one’s faith. Why is there such a discrepancy between what most churches teach and the Christ-life message?

What a wonderful blessing when a veil is lifted and you suddenly understand a concept you previously hadn’t been able to wrap your mind around!

Back in the Garden, what did Adam have before he disobeyed God? What did he exchange? He had a personal relationship with God; God visited and talked with Adam until sin separated them. What did Satan tell Eve?

“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5).

This is Sunday school stuff. But people don’t connect this exchange with what happens in religion.

Many Christians live out their faith through introspection, naval-gazing! Some people just have a penchant for self-analysis, even me; I admit it. Many study the Old Testament to learn lessons of Christian character and try to apply it to their lives—how to be a man of faith like Abraham or Moses, or how to be a woman of God like Esther. But, you see, the forbidden tree in the Garden was not of evil; it was of the knowledge of both good and evil. When we work the knowledge of good and evil (this includes trying to be good), we are truly acting as gods, just as Satan promised. We are acting on our own power, as a child looks to his parent and says, “I don’t need your help; I can do it myself!” And then he proceeds to fall flat on his face.

But what does God want? Did He create the world so He could watch us be good? No. He wanted a relationship! From the beginning of time, God yearned for a loving relationship. God gave Adam and Eve options because love is a choice. He wants us to eventually fall in love with Him, not to be independent beings.

But, how can we have a relationship with Him if we pass our days studying ourselves and trying to perfect our flaws? “Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3).

After years of trying to perfect the flesh, many Christians get burned out or find that no matter how good they were, they still ran into bad circumstances beyond their control. You see, law-givers hold out the promise that bad behavior reaps bad consequences. I do believe this law is built into God’s universe, just as the law of gravity; but, following that reason, one would conclude that good behavior will reap good consequences. This simply is not so in this third-dimension life on earth. No matter how you give yourself to being faithful, honest, responsible, decent, kind, and sinless, you are still going to find heartache and trouble in this life. When a Christian finally realizes—some after decades of trying—that no matter how hard he tries, everything he touches turns to dust, then he can come to understand what it is to die to oneself. Paul says, “For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God” (Gal. 2:19). This is another concept I couldn’t understand—reckoning yourself dead. Another piece of the puzzle just snapped together in this latest revelation.

When you find that all your efforts to perfect the flesh are fruitless, then you finally give up; and that is when you are ready to draw closer to God, throw your hands up in the air and say, It’s useless, God. Nothing I do, not even my best effort, is any good. I have nothing to offer you. Then God finally gets what He has wanted all along—a relationship with you, relying solely on Him. God wants you—each of us—to talk to Him, to hunger to really know Him (not just know facts about Him), read His Word and really listen to Him. When we focus on Him, seek Him, ask Him to make Himself known to us, talk to Him throughout the day—in constant conversation like we talk to the people we live with—we will find that He talks back. It’s true! This world would have people believe that those who think they hear God talking to them are delusional. He really does talk to us!

What about living a Christian life? It is still there, but it has a different source, a different focus, and a completely different life.

“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law” (Gal. 5:16–18).

Do we not trust that if we are in constant communication with our Father, He will lead us into a Christian lifestyle? When we fall in love, we tend to be distracted from all other areas of life. When we fall in love with our Father, we are then able to set everything else aside and just focus on Him. He will put life together. He will provide. He will guide us through relationships. He will see us through the hard times. This is where we enter into His rest as promised in Hebrews 4:9-11. The ways of the flesh will fall away, especially as the Holy Spirit convicts us and teaches us Christ. Then Christ can truly start living through us.

This may be a huge learning curve, and every one of us is on that learning curve. We can be understanding and sympathetic toward others knowing that we are all learning Christ. We can encourage each other. “Comfort yourselves together, and edify one another” (1 Thess. 5:11). We will not see perfection in those who are born again because they still have the tendencies of the flesh in their minds, but renewing the mind, teaching the Christian life, is done best by the Holy Spirit in God’s time. Reading the Word gives the Holy Spirit the tools (Scriptures) in the mind to bring forth and teach us. But following the letter of the law just leads the believer to become an actor, trying to perform as expected. The best teaching Christians can do is first to have an intimate Father-son relationship of their own with their heavenly Father. That will be a testimony in itself. Then we can point others to God and say, “Seek Him; He is real! Talk to Him and listen. Fall in love with Him, and He will take care of the rest.”

Comments

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26-Feb-2017 05:37 AM Nate Moore

Thank you! Enjoyed this very much.

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