I’ve been thinking recently about some of the essential Christian principles that have been hammered into me throughout my life and how so many of these principles have been things I have since had to give up.
Before I get started I would like to add this disclaimer to the article – This is not meant to be a comprehensive article with in-depth teaching, if you want more on these things please check out the other articles on this website and some of the audio/video resources.
So, with that said, without further ado, here are…
Trying to please God
You can’t, so don’t… That’s why Jesus came to make you a new creation! You were incapable of getting “right with God”! Don’t fall into the Galatian bewitchment and think that now He’s made you right with God you have to keep up a certain standard to please Him.
Trying to please others
You can’t please everyone – it’s impossible. In fact to please one group of people you are invariably going to displease another group! You need to resign yourself to the fact Christianity is not a popularity contest. Of course we don’t actively try to be disliked but ultimately we just have to follow God’s voice, walk in the Spirit and trust that we are affecting those God wants us to affect, how He wants us to affect them.
Spiritual warfare that takes more than 1 minute
If you are breaking a sweat in spiritual warfare I can guarantee something has gone awry! In Christ every power and principality has been disarmed and defeated and the only power they can receive is that which we give them. So if what you are fighting is fighting back someone is empowering it (and it’s most likely you) – that is what to focus on, not the demonic! The New Testament gives us two instructions on spiritual warfare… 1) Focus on what we ourselves believe and 2) stand in Christ’s finished work.
Asking what is right and what is wrong
Did you know that God doesn’t want you to try to do what’s right and avoid what is wrong? In fact just knowing the difference was something He never wanted for us! The only thing God didn’t want for Adam and Eve when He put them in the garden was for them to know good and evil! He didn’t want them to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Rather He always intended them to just live good in relationship with Him. The same is true for us today.
Paul explains this in Romans 7 when He explains his greatest problem is knowing what’s good and bad and feeling he should try to live based upon that! Don’t spend your life evaluating everything as good and bad – rather just live your life following the leading of the Spirit.
Fasting for breakthrough
Fasting has never been for the purpose of gaining something. To think that we can fast to convince God to do something is basically us doing a hunger strike to try to change the mind of the creator of the universe! We don’t ever try to convince God to change His mind – as if we have more mercy or compassion than God in the first place!
There is nothing wrong with fasting, do it if it helps you clear your mind or hear God better or maybe for health reasons but don’t do it to try to bend God’s arm into doing something! Trust me, He is even more willing than you to see His will done here on Earth.
Praying “if it be your will”
Praying “if it be your will” is the ultimate cop-out! In the vast majority of situations we know the will of God – Jesus Christ manifested the will of God perfectly, not only that but He told us how to recognize God’s will – He said His will is that things on Earth would be as they are in Heaven. If you don’t know His will ask God and He will tell you. God’s not looking for your permission to exercise His will. He’s looking for a vessel to manifest it!
Trying to obey the law
Contrary to popular belief the law is not for the believer, Paul details this again and again but never so clearly as in Romans 6 and 1 Timothy 1 when He states emphatically “the believer is no longer under the law” and “the law is for the unrighteous, not the righteous”. You have been made righteous and you have the Spirit of God in you. Living by a list of do’s and don’ts is not what you are called to but rather living in the walk of the Spirit! If this is a tough pill to swallow check out this article – What’s the role of the law in the new covenant?
Have you ever noticed that we rate sins? The Bible doesn’t rate sins as better or worse than one another. Even if it did, it’s clearly not how we go about rating sins – consider this, there are more than a thousand verses talking about idolatry (greed, gluttony, lust, worshiping anything other than God) and six about homosexuality.
So why is it that we have so many Christians willing to walk down the street with signs to show how much “God hates gay people” and yet no Christians picketing McDonalds because (some) people in there are being gluttonous? We pick and choose our cardinal sins… If we personally do it or have struggled with it, it’s under grace, if we don’t, then we judge and condemn people. Let’s stop picking which sins are better or worse and instead just realize we all fall short in our own efforts. Let’s trust in God’s grace and let other people do the same!
Trying to become holy
This is a big one, realizing that holiness is not something to be measured on a scale changes everything for the believer. You are either holy or you are unholy! You can’t be 75% holy, that would be the definition of unholy. When we are freed by this truth we realize that God is not expecting us to try to become holy by our own efforts and works. Rather He’s asking us to rest in the truth that we are holy in our new nature. In Christ we have been made holy outside of our actions. Let’s leave our actions where they belong, outside of the holiness equation.
Comparing yourself to others
So many of us love to feel like we are doing better than average. The problem is that we are not called to try outperform each other! We are called to walk in the Spirit and live Christ’s life. Our lives should look like Jesus. It’s easy to feel good about yourself in some areas if you look around your immediate circle of influence, maybe you’ve seen more healing than your friends. But it’s also easy to feel pretty bad, maybe we look around and we see the church in the next town seeing many more people saved than we do!
We can’t get into comparison because it never leads anywhere healthy, neither guilt nor pride are great places to go! Instead let’s just compare ourselves to one person. Jesus. How does our life measure up to the life of Jesus? Can we truly say “it’s not longer I who live but Christ in me”?
What about you?
These are just a few things every Christian should give up, what are some of the things that were hammered into you as essential Christian principles or disciplines that you have had to learn to give up over the years?