"One day I opened the door to find a strange dog with our daily newspaper in its mouth. Delighted by this unexpected delivery service, I gave him some treats. The next morning I was horrified to see the same dog wagging his tail, sitting there surrounded by 8 newspapers. I spent the rest of the morning returning the papers to their owners." Story from Reader's Digest magazine
Religion tends to think like that dog, that God is behind a big door and will reward us with a predictable response to a specific thing we do, thereby gaining us answered prayer, healing, that job interviewed for, the sale to finalize, etc. Then like that dog, when the treat doesn't come you think you must have done something wrong, though with good intention, and you sit in confusion trying to figure out what God wants. Add in a heaping helping of condemnation and you have a Christian who acts like that cowering dog convinced he did something wrong but clueless as to what it was.
Steps towards becoming a non-legalistic believer
We aren't that dog. God is not the person behind the big door from whom you beg for treats and favors.
The first and greatest point to understand is that Christ is already in you, and there is nothing you can do to improve upon that fact. That truth must really become part of your first nature, to realize God isn't 'out there', but rather 'in there', in your spirit. He already died and rose for you, and caused you to be born again by His Spirit - you can't bring Him enough 'spiritual newspapers' to improve upon Christ in you, nor impress Him beyond what He thinks of you already!
He thinks of you so highly He gave His only Son, Christ Jesus, to you - and beyond that, decided to live inside you. He likes us THAT much. You can't do anything to get Him more on 'your side' or liking you more. Grace is totally dependent on the giver of that grace, and that means He loves you and did that for you and there isn't a single thing you can do about it - it's all on Him and in Him to love us, and like us - which He surely does for we are born of Him and have His gifts and His personality traits as part of our being.
If this is true...
...and it certainly is, that means God the Father is beyond being manipulated. You can't do something to make him un-like you and you can't do something to make Him like you more. He is love - it's just how He is!
That makes Him unpredictable in many ways, or appears so with our limited understanding. You don't always know what He has in mind. You also can't buy answered prayer, you can't impress Him by doing x deed, you can't offer Him anything that will corrupt Him to manipulate things to your liking over and above what someone else needs. He is God and He alone is sovereign.
In the same way I knew my grandfather and what he liked and didn't like, he was to me unpredictable in many situations, and certainly beyond manipulation. He was grandpa and his ways were set. What I tried to do as a boy was to be around my grandfather to get to know him as best as I could, and learn his ways and his thoughts.
He was an eye, ear, nose, and throat doctor, and back in the 1960's when I was a boy, after Sunday dinner at my grandparent's house, he would take me along to the hospital to visit his patients. Each patient was different and each had a different ailment and there was no way I could know what my grandfather would do at each stop on his rounds.
But I knew him, I knew his character, his demeanor, his heart, because I'd been around him so much, so I knew that though he was unpredictable in exactly how he would handle each patient, I knew the love and intent and manners of my grandfather, so I knew whatever the solution for each would be, it would be flowing from those good things in his heart. Our heavenly Father is like that. He is unpredictable, yet entirely predictable.
You don't start your day in sin and then work your way into fellowship and peace
Your spirit man never sleeps and is in constant communion and one with Christ in you. You don't open your eyes in the morning and are immediately guilty of being a sinner. You open your eyes to become aware once again, of Christ in you and you are still in fellowship and know Almighty God.
Just getting out of bed and ready for your day is not a sin. Neither are necessary thoughts and conversations about your day a sin. Eating breakfast isn't a sin. Being a human being isn't a sin. Sin is an offense against God. You don't offend Him by going about your routine. Legalism focuses on self and causes a person to be continually second guessing themselves, worrying they have offended God or done something wrong. If you sin He is fully capable of letting you know in your spirit that you missed it...more on that next week because...
I've run out of room for today. "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the children of God." I John 3:1 Amazing grace indeed!
Until next week, blessings,