It seemed innocent enough. I’m up early as usual, waiting for my Keurig to brew my first lovely cup o’joe and I grab my phone. I’ll be honest — I have a snap chat streak going with two good friends. That’s right, I’m 52 and I have snap chat streaks! LOL…We always start with a “good morning” message of some kind and then, depending on the day, send additional messages along the way.
This morning, for some reason, I opened Instagram first. I am connected to an acquaintance who is the sister of a dear friend of mine. She happens to be a devout Mormon. Her stories are packed with combinations of family life (they just built a stunning new home) and her beliefs. Usually, I just click past all the Mormon minutia. but today, the first post caught my eye, and then my breath.
To quote a friend who I shared this teaching with this morning, “That’s what got Adam and Eve in trouble in the first place.” Self-reliance is not the path to deeper faith, it’s the path directly to a personal fall.
In a five minute search, I found no less than five scriptures on the dangers of self-reliance. The flesh is sinful. Our nature is to do what feels good. Not what feels hard. Sometimes doing what is right, true, of God, is difficult. It might even feel painful in the moment, but God’s grace is what carries us through. Our reliance on Him for and in everything is what draws us closer to Him. Faith is what strengthens our faith. Reliance on myself is what strengthens my pride. And my pride is what separates me from God. The belief that I can do anything apart from Him is trouble waiting to happen.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.
But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.John 15:4-8 NLT
So many thoughts running through my head right now. In the beginning, God gave us everything we needed. A beautiful garden that provided our food, beauty, comfort, and He provided companionship. We were given the authority to care for that world. And then Satan came and mingled just enough of what God had said with his lies and Eve, against what she knew to be God’s word, relied on her own desire to know all that God knows and she partook of the fruit. And then once she realized what she had done, she immediately sought after Adam to get him on board. And together they were cast out – and thus began the fall of humanity. This is what self-dependence provided for us — separation from God.
If we could be redeemed by our own power, we would have done it already. If relying on ourselves, and the rituals of man (i.e., covenants and ordinances) were what we needed, what would be the point of Christ? Of His sacrifice? Of His resurrection? They become secondary to our salvation. These things then become a nice story, a anecdote, an aside. Not the point.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.Ephesians 2:8-9
Paul’s wisdom, and warning, stand the test of time. In leaning on our own understanding (see Proverbs 3:5) we risk further separation from our loving father. It’s not that He leaves us in our confusion, in our misunderstanding, no, it’s quite the opposite. He pursues us through our misunderstandings, our missteps. He was so saddened by our separation, He came as the Son to die for our sins and to be resurrected that those who believe in Him would live eternally with Him.
I’m asked occasionally why I can’t just leave Mormonism alone. Why, after all these years away, do I get triggered when I hear or see certain things. Because the lies are dangerous. They lead us to ourselves, and left to my own devices, I become prideful and think I need God less, not more. Until I finally hit a wall. A wall where I can’t, literally can’t go any further, do any more.
Mormonism left me tired, sad and disappointed in myself. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t do all the things. Why I couldn’t be better, more righteous, more consistent, more perfect. It’s teachings, like the one above, that left me this way. The thought that I should be able to do anything on my own left me feeling like a failure when I could not.
There is a Mormon saying that I’ve quoted before, “After all I can do, Grace makes up the difference.” The reality is grace IS the difference. Without it, I can do nothing. With it, through God’s grace alone, we can do anything.
As long as Mormonism continues to twist the truth of God with the lies of man, I will continue to speak out against it. I am thankful for those who pointed me to the truth of the Bible. It’s where I found true freedom through His grace.
What I probably won’t do? Open social media first thing.