I didn’t know my conscience was hijacked.
I didn’t know I was obeying religious spirits.
I didn’t know I was still under the law.
I went along with what other Christians were doing… and I completely disregarded my conscience, the very thing God wanted clean and use to show me how to live and what to do.
“You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.”
Colossians 2:20-23 NLT
Don’t do this, don’t touch that… don’t do that… these are mere humanistic rules about earthly perishable things. Rules framed up by the box of whichever church or religious affiliation i was associated with.
In one denomination, someone might be considered to be doing well if they attend church on christmas and Easter and send their kids to confirmation. However in another church culture, we might not attain the level of righteousness we believe that God requires if we don’t preach the gospel and heal the sick, or if we don’t have spiritual gifts. And of course, don’t do naughty things…
The list goes on. And in this disgustingly crafted system, tailor made by Satan himself, I got caught eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Counting on my own natural knowledge of what is right and what is wrong according to my church culture to find out if God approved of me.
I thought i was free from the law, but i had a set of rules and a standard of righteousness that I felt was necessary to attain to, all set up by whichever denomination or cult i was affiliated with.
I didn’t know God. I never felt righteous. I never felt clean. The wounds which were cunningly crafted into my soul from generational curses and from past hurts desperately cried out through my flesh for satisfaction for all the naughty things… Things i was no longer allowed to do. No more drinking, no more sex… no more secular music… But my conscience wasn’t telling me no, my church culture was.
What is a “Christian girl” supposed to do with this? I crave things I’m not supposed to crave, I want to do things I’m not supposed to do… I plunged head first into self effort and found another thing to satisfy the wounds in my soul: Honor and accolade from people, and exalting myself over others.
After all, I wasn’t getting affection and love from God, cause I didn’t feel worthy of that, because according to my knowledge of good and evil, my deeds didn’t measure up to that worth.
In my first church box I was praised by others for my musical gifts. People called my music “anointed worship” but i didn’t know God. It just sounded good because I was gifted with natural talents. Still, the honor and accolades from others in my denominational affiliation wasn’t enough to curb the appetite for satisfaction which my soul desperately needed. It didn’t give me the knowing in my heart and conscience that I was right with God… It just made me prideful as I compared myself to others who couldn’t sing as well.
If I was praised by my peers in the church culture for obeying the rituals and following the practices in our box, I could fall into pride. If (by comparing myself to others in the same box) I perceive that I have fallen short of our standards, would feel condemned and unworthy. Pride or condemnation. Those are your choices when you eat from the wrong tree.
In an effort to “live by faith, not by feelings…” I abandoned my conscience, the very thing God wanted to use, to obey the law, the very system Jesus died on the cross to fulfill and replace with the new covenant.
Coming out of religion was a difficult transition. As difficult as it is to fast for the first time. When we fast, our bodies are searching for nutrients, begging our stomach to send hunger to our brain, hoping we will cave in and give it the carbs and sugar it wants. When we deny our flesh the satisfaction it craves, it is painfully forced to search for another energy source: stored fat which is already on the body. When our bodies are burning this stored fat, we produce something called KETONES. Our body is then in KETOSIS. It’s a much more efficient way to process nutrients, and there is far less effort in weight loss. Thr process of getting into KETOSIS is sometimes a painful one! We can be detoxing, experiencing headaches and some sickness symptoms, and even go through something called the “keto flu” which has symptoms likened to a 48 hour flu.
When I denied my soul the satisfaction it was used to when I “stopped sinning” I then started doing “good things” for God like going to church, joining worship team, healing the sick, praying for others, giving poor people food and all kids of other “Christian” deeds. This was feeding my soul with carbs and sugars leaving me temporarily satisfied but like every other addiction, you have to keep it going in order to be sustained.
“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink— even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk— it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food.”
Isaiah 55:1-2 NLT
What does it look like to eat the finest food? What does being nourished actually do to us?
After years of drinking and eating the fast foods of religious Christianity, I knew something still wasn’t right with my walk. Why did I constantly feel condemned? Why did I never feel clean? Why wasn’t the story of the cross enough for me to live a holy life? I kept a lid on sinful deeds, easily, but I secretly still craved the sinful satisfactions that once fed me. I pondered many of these things as I wore myself out doing good works for God, with false motives: Proving my worth to God, and exuding a spiritual superiority over others so i can feel more important than them.
Even though i prayed the sinners prayers, i walked up on the altar calls, and even though I followed the acts 2:38 formula, something still wasn’t right.
Even though I made all the right confessions, did all the right things, attended all the Bible studies and home groups, something still wasn’t right.
Even though I was healing the sick, casting demons out of people, prophesying over others and could quote scripture like an accomplished theologian, something still wasn’t right.
I had the outward appearance and works of someone who was not just an average bible believer, but an on fire, tongue speakin’, anointed powerful minister… but even then, something just wasn’t quite right.
I felt condemned… I felt unworthy. I felt unloved, and I felt unforgiveness. I felt like an orphan. I felt like praying was a chore, and every time I went in my room to pray, I felt like God wasn’t there. I brought these feelings up, people would just say “we live by faith, not by feelings.” (That in itself is actually a misquoted scripture and its not even in the Bible)
Joy is a feeling isn’t it? If the joy of the Lord is my strength, then how am I supposed to have strength to live as a Christian is supposed to live without experiencing it?
1 John 3:21 Dear friends, if our conscience doesn’t condemn us, we can boldly look to God.”
Romans 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
My conscience condemned me constantly. My works weren’t enough to wash my past sins, my false motives, and my wounds and pains away. No matter how many good deeds I wore myself out doing, my conscience did not bear witness that it was clean. My spirit did not bear witness with me that I was a son of God, and I didn’t have true Joy, so… living to the standard of righteousness that was being displayed by my peers in my church culture was exhausting cause I had no strength to do so.
Praying for the sick had become a carbohydrate. Prophesying over someone had become a chocolate chip cookie. Seeing God work through me was the only thing I felt brought value to my life… and I was doing it all to exalt myself… to fit in… to prove that I was valuable to God.
And that is sin. Doing “good things” for God, with a false motive. It is sin.
You might say “Jess, healing the sick is a good thing. God tells us in the Bible to do so…” but I knew I was in sin. Here’s why… It was manipulation. It was witchcraft. If I could “wow” someone on the streets with my Jesus and prove to them with spiritual powers that He is better than whatever they have, it’s witchcraft. My motive is what makes what I do witchcraft.
Our motives carry an unspoken frequency behind them, always… and it is planted along with the gospel that you preach. I was preaching the wrong gospel, with wrong motives, and even the wrong Jesus. It planted seeds of comparison in others… So that others compared themselves to me and thought that my life was a standard for them to attain to.
So God shut it off. No more miracles. No more gifts. I prayed and people weren’t healed. Every shallow junk food ingredient I was using to sustain myself was being taken away from me.
Desiring to add value to my life through the shallow nutrients of spiritual carbs and sugars, I continued to try, and each time I failed I fell more and more into condemnation.
What a horrifying and confusing time in my life! The very foundation I built my identity on was crumbling away like sand. At this fragile time in my life, I was going through a horrible breakup, had taken several other hits to my identity from very prestigious leaders of our denomination, discovering that I didn’t know God AT ALL, falling HARD I mean very very HARD from the high prideful place I had exalted myself to, and also realized that I had a personality disorder. Also I was shunned by my “church” group. I was gossiped about, slandered, and betrayed by the people I thought I could trust the most… Kicked out cause I didn’t fit into their box.
But it was all for my benefit.
It was all for my good.
This is where rock bottom happened.
This is how I found the rock, Christ.