Recently, a lady named Christina Whitehead shared her story with me about leaving a spiritually abusive church system and how that affected her relationship with God, faith, her self-worth, her family, and her life. I will share her story another time, but something she said sparked the desire to write this article about regaining the Joy of your Salvation!
Christina wrote, “I became a people pleaser or Pastor pleaser. He said jump, I asked how high? My focus got off of God and the joy of my salvation and onto what was required of me.”
Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. – Psalms 51:12, KJV
DivideTheWord.blog has focused strongly on legalism, and Christina’s story is just one of the thousands of reasons why. Every soul that is left scarred by Legalism, which always translates into Spiritual Abuse, is one that may not regain the joy of their salvation, a full relationship with Christ, and that is what causes the most damage to God’s body in Christ, the church, the ekklesia.
Ironically, ekklesia itself means ‘the called out‘, or the ‘the separated’. But called out of what? Modern-day pastors and preachers like to point their finger at the world, meaning simply, all those who are not of that particular denomination, or of Christian faith. They use stories of the Exodus from the brutal rule of a Pharoah to illustrate coming out of the world, claiming Egypt to be a type and shadow of all things bad, and then sadly, some become Pharoah themselves, being taskmasters over God’s flock.
And yet, the called out were actually, by Scriptural evidence, those who left Legalism, or were called out of the Law. The ex-Jew, the ex-Legalists. Scribes, Pharisees, etc. The called out were you, the Gentile believers, the ones to whom He gave the power to become the Sons of God by believing on His Name.
A scripture constantly used out of context helps validate this point, and by the end of this explanation, will equip you to Regain the Joy of your Salvation!
For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. – Galatians 2:18, KJV
Now, as an ex-legalist, and ex-pentecostal, I cannot count the number of times I heard this verse used to scare the temptation out of us of watching TV or going to a ball game, or watching a movie, wearing short sleeve shirts, or shorts when swimming, or whatever it was that we gave up to ‘come in’ to the Church. They told us if we picked up those things again, God’s curse would reign down on us and we would become seven-fold worse than we were before.
And yet, Scripture has an amazing way of interpreting itself, and this is the main rule of Biblical Hermeneutics. Scripture will always interpret itself, there are no private or extra-biblical interpretations.
So applying that rule, and reading surrounding Scriptures, context and commentaries, the Amplified Bible translation makes this verse crystal clear, and the understanding will allow you to take the first step into reclaiming God’s promises for your life.
For if I [or anyone else should] rebuild [through word or by practice] what I once tore down [the belief that observing the Law is essential for salvation], I prove myself to be a transgressor. – Galatians 2:18, AMP
Do you see the wonders of God’s promise in that scripture? The transgressor is the one who does by practice, or by teaching (word) the requirement of works for salvation! To place oneself under a law, or to cause others to enjoin their faith to the works of the flesh, or law, for the law was of the flesh, cause a transgression of the works of Jesus Christ!
Take for example Christ’ attitude on this:
He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. – Mark 7:6-9, KJV
What power Christ spoke with, and authority! And to make this make just a little more sense, since ‘line upon line, precept upon precept‘ was a well-used line by my old dictators to license themselves to hold their traditions as equal weight with Scripture, we will look at this again in the Amplified version.
‘They worship Me in vain [their worship is meaningless and worthless, a pretense],
Teaching the precepts of men as doctrines [giving their traditions equal weight with the Scriptures].’ – Mark 7:7, AMP
What traditions could be considered to have equal weight with Scripture?
- The false belief that the pastor is your Spiritual Father or full authority in Christ’ stead. Obedience to that man, unequivocally. God never demanded that you be taken advantage of by men. The only ones Christ condemned were the Pharisees or laying heavy burdens on people. The Old Testament was a rigid system of obedience to man.
- Dress Standards (known as Holiness) such as not wearing shorts, or makeup, or jewelry. Legalists will claim these things to be tantamount to losing salvation for doing them with no Scriptural backing other than vague and out of context verses. The Old Testament was a rigid system of dress codes, linen types, etc.
- Tithing, a method of taxation in the Old Testament law, now used to create retirement plans (filthy lucre) for men who wish to exercise control. Offerings given of free will was God’s plan for the New Testament Church, as expressed by the Apostle Paul. The Old Testament was a rigid system of tithing (but please know it was never MONEY tithes. Please read our article on Tithing to better understand this.)
- Forced attendance to weekly or multiple times per week monologues (church services). Attending church is very healthy, but when men require it and promise God’s curse upon you for not being there, sometimes 3+ times per week, they are playing Moses. The Old Testament was a rigid system or reading the law, prayer times and synagogue.
The point is this Child of God – Your Joy and your Salvation have nothing to do with these Old Testament demands! The joy of Salvation comes when you realize you do not have to be a man-pleaser to attain God’s favor!
God expressly forbade his disciples from exercising authoritarian control over the flock of God. Matthew 23 is a chapter on this entire topic, saying things such as:
But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your teacher, and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father on the earth: for one is your Father, even he who is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your master, even the Christ. – Matthew 23:8-10, KJV
Know then, that your Joy comes from God, and Christ, who made himself in the form of Man so that he could bring you joy unspeakable, and full of glory! Man will wish to take glory for self, which is the very reason God abolished works based salvation!
Your joy, is just that, Your Joy! Man cannot take it, the Bible says so! The only way it can be taken from you is if you place it in another mans hand and give them control over you.
God bless you in regaining Your Joy of Salvation!