Today’s Truth

The Spirit of the LORD is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the LORD’s favor has come (Luke 4:18-19 NLT).

Friend to Friend

When I grew up in the church during the 1980’s, my grandmother and her friends hid a shocking secret underneath their fabulous Sunday hats. Those elegant hats were adorned with fluffy feathers, giant bows, and decorative nets. They anchored those hats to their heads with a legion of bobby pins just in case they felt like jumping up and down as the gospel music started to “get good.” So, what was their secret? My grandma and her friends didn’t style their hair underneath their hats! In time, those hats became a symbol of the kind of Christianity that I witnessed and lived much of my early life: Your life might be a mess on the inside, but as long as you look good on the outside, that’s all people care about.

I grew up in a church that had a lot of rules like no running in church, stay quiet during the sermon and church attendance is mandatory or else something bad might happen to you. I followed the rules, but I questioned why the rules made me more afraid of God instead of feeling more faithful to God. I lived in fear that God would give me a big “whammy” if I ever messed up.

A few years after leaving home, I found myself staring at two lines on a pregnancy test. I was an unmarried, 19-year old college sophomore. More than my fear of telling my parents or facing the people at my church, I felt trapped by my guilt and shame. I was terrified that God would punish me severely for my mistake.

Unfortunately, we believe the lie that God’s love for us is based on our performance. Therefore, we pressure ourselves to perform for God by jumping through what I call the “to-do,” “do-more,” or “do-better” religious hoops to keep God happy. Yet, the reality is that God never asked us to jump through those hoops for Him. Rather, God sent Jesus to rescue and bring freedom without asking us to do a thing to earn it.

Long ago, Jesus stood up before his hometown crowd to declare that the Good News prophesied to them long ago had finally arrived. God’s people could be freed from the influence of the religious rules-police, who twisted God’s instructions for holy living into man-made rules that pressured the people with fear (Matthew 23:4). Here’s what Jesus told the crowd that day and it’s the same message of freedom for us now:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see,
that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord’s favor has come” (Luke 4:18-19).

Regardless of what you’ve done – or failed to do, Jesus has already set you free from the penalty of your sin and the pressure to follow religious rules. What does Jesus’ declaration of freedom mean for you? Freedom in Christ is living free from fear and fully alive in God’s joy and purpose. When we are free, we find joy in connecting with God, not fear or dread.

As you reflect on your Christian life today, what religious rules have you followed out of fear? Today is the perfect day for you to declare, “Jesus set me free from following religious rules so that I could enjoy a relationship with God and walk by faith!”

Let’s Pray

Dear God, thank You for the gospel that saved my life! I couldn’t save myself. In fact, I still can’t save myself! Open my eyes and reveal the religious rules that keep me in fear and away from truly enjoying my relationship with You. I want to live each day free from fear and fully alive in Your joy and purpose.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

When do you feel like you’re just one mistake or sin away from God sending you a big “whammy” or that He’s out to get you?

What religious rules do you long to be free from in order to enjoy a no-fear, loving relationship with God?

More from the Girlfriends

Today’s content is from Barb’s new Bible study, Breakthrough: Finding Freedom in Christ. This six-week Bible study on the book of Galatians teaches you how to find freedom from following religious rules and any fear of not being enough for God. Barb’s study includes six powerful Freedom Principles and application exercises that equip you to break free from fear and experience God’s great adventure of joy and purpose for your life.

© 2021 by Barb Roose. All rights reserved.


19 Responses to “Finding Freedom from the Religious Rules-Police”

  1. Patricia says:

    Thank you Barb for this message. I am reminded of John 8: 31-32. To the Jews who believed him, Jesus said, “ If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” And it was the truth of the Word of God that spoke to my heart when I surrendered my life to Jesus some forty-three years ago. I had left the church after a divorce for it seemed at that time that divorce was an unforgivable sin. After a few years the Lord Jesus got ahold of my heart and I surrendered my life to God and was born-again. What a transformation He made in my life from that moment on. The freedom of knowing JESUS has brought me pure joy and purpose in my life. I continue to walk by faith in trusting God in this amazing relationship I have with Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord.

    • Avatar photo Barb Roose says:

      Patricia, this is a beautiful and powerful story! I’m so sorry for what you experienced long ago, but I give thanks that you were willing to allow God back into your life and that you’re walking in the freedom that only Jesus can bring. Praise God!

  2. Kimberly says:

    I love this message but would like to add one thing. Once we are saved, there should be a change in our lives to follow God’s word. Even though we are saved by God’s grace, it doesn’t give a pass to continually sin. Jesus the told the woman that was going to be stoned to “Go away and sin no more”. Even though sins can be forgiven through the blood of Jesus Christ, we should strive to sin no more. I know perfection can never be attained, but we shouldn’t purposely sin in the face of God. When we do sin (which we often all do), we need to ask for forgiveness and to strive to be better. This is not because we fear for our salvation, but because we love Jesus. Nobody gets to heaven on works. It’s truly by the grace of God. That in itself should make us want to be better people. God’s grace should also give us comfort when we fail him as Christians so that we can ask for forgiveness and try to be better. Only Jesus can wipe the slate clean. Praise God that we are saved by his grace because we can never live a perfect life. We can only strive to be the best we can be.

  3. Carol says:

    Bless you Barb, for this am boost!
    Every once in awhile, the dark side, tries to remind me of my past, too. Doesn’t it happen to us, when you least expect it?
    I just hang on to the promise, Psalm 103: 12; “as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” My little side ways cross necklace, is a daily reminder; Jesus is my high priest, that advocates for me still in Heaven! ( Hebrews 7:23-28)
    Amen! Blessings to you, Barb this Easter Season.

  4. Tonya says:

    Your devotionals always connects with me. I always feel God nudging me when I read your stories and experiences.
    “When do you feel like you’re just one mistake or sin away from God sending you a big “whammy” or that He’s out to get you?” After thinking about this question, I feel this way when I am comparing myself to other people. I take my eyes and my mind off of Jesus and focus on self and how inadequate I always feel compared to others. So I do like your grandmother and her friends did with their hats. I do my best to make the “outside” look good because I feel like I’m a mess on the inside. I know this is a lie so I’m working hard to memorize scripture to renew my mind. Thank you Barb for reminding me that I don’t need to live in fear of others’expectations or “rules” but to accept God’s love and grace and find freedom in Him and Him alone.

    • Avatar photo Barb Roose says:

      Hi Tonya, thank you for stopping by Girlfriends in God! I’m so glad that God used this devotional to encourage you to remember His love and grace for YOU!

  5. Bernadette says:

    It is funny how we were made to believe that coming to church every Sunday was mandatory. Growing up, I felt as if I missed a day of church God would be angry with me.
    The irony is that COVID happened and the doors of churches were closed.
    Is God angry with us now for not attending church?
    God’s grace is sufficient for me.

    Thank you for touching my life.

    • Avatar photo Barb Roose says:

      Bernadette, that’s so good! Thank you for sharing your comment – I’m so glad that God used this devotional to encourage you!

  6. Rose says:

    Thank you so much for your spiritual insight and encouragement. I grew up with those religious rules in constant dread of punishment from God. Eventually I walked away from church as a teenager feeling rejected and discouraged. But God in His Love extended His grace and mercy to me by pursuing me with His love. What man portrayed about Him was not what I received. He knew where I was and what I needed and lavished it on me. It took awhile for my perception of Him to be changed but it did. Rather than the austere Judge with hands raised to strike as I mess up, I found outstretched arms of a loving Father extending grace. It’s been 20+ years since I have surrendered my life to Him, and even though there has been troubles and trials that breaks me, He has ALWAYS been there. And even when I mess up as soon as I repent fellowship is restored and because of His love I strive not to mess up but to please my loving Father. I wondered about His love for me as I had been through so much abuse as a child, but he has used that pain to fuel my purpose to help broken people. He has taken the shattered, ugly pieces of my life and created a beautiful masterpiece for His Glory! I didn’t know that happiness was possible for me, but Thank God for Jesus who brought Freedom! Freedom from sin, shame, guilt, trauma, depression and so much more….Blessings!

    • Avatar photo Barb Roose says:

      Rose, this is a beautiful and powerful testimony. Thank you for sharing this with all of us today. I pray that God uses your story here to encourage others to remember the truth about God and draw near to Him again! Thank you for sharing your story today!

  7. John Allen says:

    I enjoyed reading this today there’s one thing missing, even though Jesus came as the sacrificial lamb for all mankind and abolish the what you explained policing and fear to serve God, we must ask him into our heart’s and believe that he is and was the living son of God and that he arose victorious on the 3rd Day.
    He was sent freely but we must except him and repent of the sin we were born into.

    • Avatar photo Barb Roose says:

      Thank you for stopping by Girlfriends in God and sharing your comment. I totally agree with you! This devotional is directed toward believers who’ve already professed Christ as their savior.

  8. Carla says:

    All are redeemed, not all are saved, repent and believe in the Gospel.

    Mt 7: 21-27 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

    God bless!

  9. Andres says:

    The only way to be free of your sins is to repents & be Baptist in the name of Jesus Christ. Christ did not come to turn people away from God’s rules but to complete a final sacrifice because man has always backslide from formal sacrifice. So we nolonger need the practice of sacrifice but to fight our flesh to remain Holy & be sanctify. Your grandma’s hat is for the covering of her Crown as man are not to wear hats (crown) in the house of prayers. Remember we’re waiting for his return this world is a temporary home.

  10. Carla says:

    Amen, I just wanted to clarify. Your article is sending a misleading message it is titled “Finding Freedom from the Religious Rules-Police”. In it you state “Regardless of what you’ve done – or failed to do, Jesus has already set you free from the penalty of your sin and the pressure to follow religious rules. What does Jesus’ declaration of freedom mean for you?”

    Jesus restored the broken relationship between the human race and God, created by original sin, through His death and resurrection. That doesn’t mean we can stop following the Commandments (religious-rules) given to us by God and continue to sin, We are called to follow Jesus and the Church (his body) he established on this earth. Jesus calls us to be perfect like our father, A profession of faith in Jesus Christ means not only do we believe in Jesus, but we follow and live according to His Commandments (religious- rules) Mt 5:17-20 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

    Jesus sets us free from sin, not the Law or Commandments. Sanctifying Grace enables us to have a relationship with God, we lose Sanctifying Grace and our ability to live in communion with God through sin. Let us not sin anymore and strive to continuously live in a state of Grace.

    God bless!

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"We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…" 1 Thessalonians 2:8