The famous author Mark Twain once stated: “The best cure for Christianity is reading the Bible.”
Reading the Bible.
In the Bible Belt.
Interesting juxtaposition, don’t you think?
The term “Bible Belt” is used to describe the areas of the southern and midwestern United States where Protestantism is widely practiced and accepted. It’s a part of the southern tradition.
I’m a native of Atlanta. I love the South. And I love Jesus.
But, the Bible Belt has a major downside: legalism. It’s found lurking around in many hearts of His beloved including my own at one time. Listen to what the Lord has taught me regarding this issue as I share an excerpt from my (untitled) book.
“Like many people raised in the Bible Belt, I was exposed to legalistic views at an early age. I believed I could win the approval of God through good deeds and perhaps move up the spiritual ranks, becoming “more holy” than everyone else around me.
This would mean that God is performance-driven, which would contradict His scripture in Romans 2:11, which states: ‘For God does not show favoritism’.
I thought that if I did more for the church, anything and everything in fact, I was guaranteed to be accepted and loved by God.
Yet I always fell short. And I always felt empty. Striving to earn something Christ had freely give me through His death on the cross: grace.
I had given over my freedom to became a slave of people-pleasing and winning approval, not only from the Father but also the Christian community.”
As long as I lived like a Christian on the outside (where it was noticed), I didn’t think it really mattered how I felt on the inside.
The church is the bride of Christ and she is very important. But, it’s not the church who saves us: It is Jesus
Avoiding sin is wise. But, it’s not keeping ourselves from doing wrong to others that saves us: It is Jesus
Doing good to others is commendable. But, it’s not having a life of servitude and good deeds that save us: It is Jesus
Please understand beloved, Jesus Christ died to give us freedom. It is through His grace that we live this Christian life. The Bible says NOTHING about earning acceptance from God.
This is about you and Him.
You and Jesus.
He died to be in relationship with you. NOT to give you a laundry list of items to do for His kingdom. And He certainly never intended for spiritual tasks to be a means for security and approval in Him.
Legalism is deception. It is burdensome. And it is religious oppression at its finest.
Look at what the Word has to say about this:
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
“You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” Galatians 5:4
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
I challenge you, my friends, to be who you are. Approach Jesus just as you are TODAY. And embrace His holy freedom!
There is nothing you can do to make Him love you any more or any less.
Jesus LOVES you. No matter what.
Read the Bible. Know His truth. Be set free. In Christ Jesus.
To avoid the downside of the belt.
**This is not stating that the Bible Belt is the only region in the United States or in the world that has issues with legalism. It is a universal issue, but as a native of the South, I am encouraging others to hold onto the true message of freedom in Christ.
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