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Sep 17, 2009

The Works Addiction

Several years ago, a young lady who was friends with my wife and I, flew out to Arizona to meet with me personally. She informed me that she felt like God had told her to come to Phoenix and Darin would give her a “word” from the Lord. I’m sure you can imagine the pressure that this type of a set-up puts on someone. Immediately, my mind begins to search frantically for something super spiritual and profound to tell her that would make her trip worth it. In my early years of being a pastor, something like this would make me want to quit my job and move out of the country.

Unfortunately this is quite a common thing in the Pentecostal world. People will travel from conference to conference chasing the latest “prophet” or evangelist in the off chance that he or she might have a “word” for them. Our friend was no different. She wanted to know what God wanted her to do.

As she and I walked through the grocery store picking up food for dinner that night, Istoreinformed her that God had given me the answer to her question. He had given me the “word” that she came for. I told her that I could give it to her right there in the produce section of Safeway, or we could wait until we were home in a more private setting. She immediately got a look of nervousness on her face. She had spent about three hundred dollars on a plane ticket, countless hours in prayer and meditation, and now she was about to get her answer. It all came down to this. She didn’t want to wait. She told me, “Give it to me now - I want to know what God wants from me.”

We stopped by the eggplants and I reached out and took both of her hands in mine and looked deep into her eyes. She was quiet with anticipation. I said;

“Nothing.”

“He doesn’t want anything from you.” 

I have found that a common concern that people have when they’re first introduced to the grace message is whether or not it’s okay to stop “doing” stuff for God. When they hear that our relationship with God is not based on works, they worry that they might become lazy and unfruitful for God’s kingdom in the name of grace. I’ve watched many people sloth“play it safe” and continue their works lifestyle while trying to embrace and understand the grace message. It just feels so free-riding and irresponsible. It feels like you’re taking advantage of God and using His grace as an excuse to do nothing. Many people spent most of their lives talking down to people who don’t do as much for God as them, and now the prospect of becoming slothful and lax, is more than they can bear.

Many people prefer to believe that it’s not about works, but they still want to do the works, just in case. Their works soothe them when they feel especially sinful and undeserving. Works are like a security blanket for the Christian who isn’tblanketcomfortable getting something for free. It washes that humbling and vulnerable feeling away and replaces it with a self-deserving sentiment. I have found that for many people, works is like that secret pacifier they don’t even know they’re addicted to. Like the alcoholic who says, “I’m not addicted - I can quit whenever I want.” Once they try to quit, however, they find a different reality exploding in their face. 

Most charismatics will tell you flat out that “salvation is not by works,” but by grace. They’ve memorized the verse and have learned to quote it boldly and powerfully, but the reality of their religion is that they don’t believe a word of it. I have yet to meet an Assembly of God pastor who wouldn’t tell you that salvation is by grace alone, but interestingly they will say in the same sentence that they can’t wait to get to heaven and hear those wonderful words from Jesus’ mouth...

jesus“Well done, my good and faithful servant.” 

The truth is, the works mentality is like a poisonous fog that has infected the surface of every aspect of institutional Christianity. Once I left the Institution and had a few years away, I began to see how much of my religion was works-based. I was astonished to find that the performance-based belief system accounted for about 99% of what I was taught. It is so prevalent in Christian thinking today, that most of us don’t even see how inundated with it we are. This is why some Free Believers living in the wild sometimes go into an all out panic attack when they find themselves doing nothing.

It has been my experience that a person cannot fully comprehend the truth of God’s love and grace until they intentionally stop doing everything. lazy

They have to stop witnessing to others. They have to stop fasting, praying and having fellowship. They have to quit worshiping and cease all serving and volunteering. They have to put down their bibles and stop reading and studying. They have to quit giving or paying their tithe, and in many circumstances they need to quit attending church altogether.Everything they feel they need to do in order to be a strong Christian and pleasing to God, needs to be put down, given up, and completely abandoned. It all has to go.

I have found that people literally have to become intentionally lazy and idle before their eyes can be opened to the beauty and simplicity of God’s grace. Any amount of works will not only hinder the process of grace, but it blurs the vision and makes it impossible to see or understand. Our need for works is the very thing that causes one to fall from grace. It’s that serious!grapes

Once a person breathes in the grace of God and understands that they are loved unconditionally and they are forever safe with Him; they begin to produce things that look like works to the untrained eye, but in reality it’s not work at all. It’s fruit. It happens naturally and without effort because it blooms from love and grace.

Darin Hufford


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Comments

  1. Gravatar
    Chris Pack

    Great post again. So...question...do you ever get tired of saying the same things over and over again in different and creative ways? For what it's worth...you're really good at it. I always enjoy each post. I haven't written in a while because I just get weary of the lack of understanding from friends. What I've realized is that some folks never will understand.

  2. Gravatar
    Al Newberry

    Wow. I've tried to put the same idea into words, but you've done it beautifully here.

  3. Gravatar
    Silas

    Thanks Darin! Another excellent post!

  4. Gravatar
    Jenny

    Darin, you get an A* grade for that one!!!
    Actually, the revelation in my life took years and years to sink into my heart and change my life. The habit to perform is so deeply entrenched that I agree, sometimes you have to go 'cold turkey' to realise what grace really is and stop all the stuff you've been doing that has no merit at all, but is very religious.

  5. Gravatar
    lionwoman

    I'll be coming back to this one for reminders. In the contemporary teachings I've had in the past, they beat you over the head with the 'works prove that you're saved' verses until your vision is too blurred to see straight. So from babyhood you're left feeling you have to prove something. They make you feel like an orphan who has to scrub the floor. I'm still trying to unlearn this after all this time. It just really pisses me off.

  6. Gravatar
    MRAE

    Great post. Fruit is evidence of relationship. Jesus told us to abide in the vine, and we will produce fruit. Abide...I in Him, and He in me. It is simple and fun. Fruit doesn't strain to appear, it just shows up. Fruit draws people. There is a HUGE difference between "have to" and "get to". Doing the stuff is fun. I know that I do not need to perform for God, but when He asks me to do something now, it is exciting. I love it! There is not pride in what I am doing because I know it is Jesus doing it through me. Praise God.

  7. Gravatar
    Jeff

    This is why the Fruit of the Spirit is all internal attitudes and not external behavior. Only Gods Spirit can produce Love, Joy, Peace, longsuffering, Gentleness etc... Anyone can get busy for Jesus (even people who are not His). Somewhere the church has gotten works and fruit mixed up thinking they are the same thing, they may be but in my experience often the people who are the busiest for Jesus exhibit the least of these qualities (not all the time though). It's almost like their works are their way of soothing their conscience for a disjointed life and a lack of real relationship with God. NT works is simply loving people because we are first loved. Paul said that even if gives all he has and becomes a martyr and did not do it through love it profits him nothing.

  8. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Great insight Jeff. Thanks.

  9. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Christ - in answer to your question; YES

  10. Gravatar
    Kevin

    I didn't know Jesus wore glasses - lol

  11. Gravatar
    Paul Spencer

    "Works are like a security blanket for the Christian who isn’tcomfortable getting something for free. It washes that humbling and vulnerable feeling away and replaces it with a self-deserving sentiment."

    You're absolutely right: we tend to listen to the message of grace, and yet, cling to those old Christians traditions - just in case. This is a typical "foolish Galatians" scenario.

    http://www.thedivinenature.blogspot.com/

  12. Gravatar
    David Joseph Brncik

    This is so awesome, good stuff Darin!

  13. Gravatar
    debsfree

    Sometimes it is very hard work to keep myself free. But when I finally settle on it (once again) I'm so over-joyed @ the reality of it.

  14. Gravatar
    Dom

    Hello Darin,
    My name is Dominic. I am a former "Foursquarer"..been a christian about 20 years...lived in CA and now I am living in CO. Nice to see SOMEONE finally figured out the poison in the pot! I would love to compare notes sometime brother.

    Take care,
    Dominic

  15. Gravatar
    Jarred

    Interesting thoughts! I'm particularly fascinated by the distinction you're drawing between works and fruits. It sounds a lot like the distinction I've personally drawn between doing things in order to define who you are (a success, a good person, etc.) and doing things because they're a natural manifestation of who you already are.

  16. Gravatar
    Dana

    "do you ever get tired of saying the same things over and over again in different and creative ways" I was thinking that myself, I forgot how different my mind is now, to how it was a year or so ago, it reminds me of when Paul had to tell the people to be patient with the newbees. I have to remember that because people were patient with me when I was first coming out of the Matrix, so to speak.

  17. Gravatar
    vince

    yea, i like the fruits thing too! i have never seen an apple tree straining it's roots and leaves to pop out an apple ... it's always a flower waiting to be pollonated by a passing bee ... very little the flower can do until the bee has done its job ... are you the flower and is the bee the Holy Spirit?

  18. Gravatar
    ShannonC

    Wonderful! I was set free about 20 years ago. Knowing I was free though, truly free, has taken ALL THESE YEARS and I still feel like I am standing on the precipice and I can hear Jesus sayin, "Jump, just jump" but I want to hold on to the safety of my works. It is a S-C-A-R-E-Y thing to lay it ALL down and trust completely in Another to take care of you and love you. I am still on the journey or maybe perhaps I am at the precipice ready to jump...
    Thanks, Darin!!!

  19. Gravatar
    Chris Pack

    Darin, believe it or not, that's the second time someone has called me Christ. I love the "glasses" comment, Kevin. Funny.

  20. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    That's funny Chris.

  21. Gravatar
    Lori

    I absolutely agree with the message of grace. This was well said.
    In this period of my life, I am doing nothing. He does not need me to do anything.
    It is by grace I am saved.
    Litte sidetrack here:
    Faith and salvation are two different entities. What is your take on the 'faith without works is dead' passage? I am referring to James 2.
    Don't get me wrong, I am not debating your statement above atall. It is bang on right. I am just pushing into the faith arena and asking anyone's opinion.

  22. Gravatar
    TLC

    Thanks, Darin. I have been feeling like an especially "lazy" Christian in the past year since I left the church, quit giving so much money, and focused my attention on recovering my relationship with God and starting my new business. My business has succeeded -- and so has the healing! It is such a relief to read these words and know that following my heart has been the right thing to do.

  23. Gravatar
    Joe G.

    I find it something to realize that at the River Jordan the Father said "This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased." Think about it. Generally such statements are made in praise of a person's accomplishments. But Jesus had not yet performed a single miracle and Father was pleased. Jesus was just beginning His ministry. The Father's love was manifest before any accomplishments were on record and was not based on the multitude of remarkable works Jesus would accomplish.
    God loves us just like we are. Our "Doing" springs from our "Being," the life of God within. How can we take any credit for such work when it is all enabled by God's grace? Yet we are constrained by that love within to reach out and help others. Truly amazing grace!

  24. Gravatar
    Technicolor

    So clearly said! Sweet words for my soul! Thank you, Darin!

  25. Gravatar
    Patricia Mikkelson

    I find myself wanting to serve, study, do things because I receive joy from doing them. I learned long ago that in order for me to keep my energy going strong, I needed to serve, but joyfully. I use my gifts to serve. Thanks for your input

  26. Gravatar
    Patricia Mikkelson

    I find myself wanting to serve, study, do things because I receive joy from doing them. I learned long ago that in order for me to keep my energy going strong, I needed to serve, but joyfully. I use my gifts to serve. Thanks for your input

  27. Gravatar
    Pila

    WOWNOWAYBBQ! Since I've heard about the grace message as I have been lazy- not fellowshipping with church folks, worshipping, reading the bible and trying to witness and well you know, the whole works! I guess I'm trying to 'test' and comprehend this whole thing about grace. I didn't feel so good about this as for the first time I'm not trying to do anything. It actually scares me. Just last month, someone said to me 'You know, if you're in grace and being lazy, that's NOT grace b'coz grace should motivate you to do MORE. You've got the wrong idea of grace if you're being lazy.' I felt so bad as I thought hmm maybe I'm not getting this grace thing right as I should be doing more but I'm not doing it yet. Anyone has any comments to do this?

  28. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Pila I have a lot to say about this. I disagree with whoever told you that. I think you have to give yourself permission to be lazy and do nothing for a season. That's part of crossing over from works to grace. Most people start feeling like you do and they run back to their works. I don't care if you do nothing for the next 30 years; it's worth it!!! Don't worry about "DOING." Get that out of your mind. If you worry about that, you're not even on the same page as grace. Remember the story of Mary and Martha when Jesus came for lunch.

  29. Gravatar
    Annette

    Awesome post! I am reminded of the Sabbath. In the OT, the sabbath was a day of resting from work. In the NT, Jesus is our sabbath rest where we rest from trying to earn our way in; we rest from our works. And it's no longer a 24 hour weekly rest it's a 24/7 eternal rest.

  30. Gravatar
    Lysle

    Darin, thanks for such a good bit of revelation writing, when the lord was revealed in me I knew I had arrived.Because of a mixed up childhood I hated school, always in trouble, I left before I should have. Saved at 36, now 68. For the first five to seven years people thought the Bible was an extention of my arm,I read and read, but I never memorized verses, I just knew what was in there somwhere and I'm so thankfull for that, what you say is so true, there is no need to qualify with scripture if what is said comes from the heart, a heart in love with Father, others will know it, it resonates with their spirit. I'm new to your web-site and love it, you say so much from your heart of love, it's easy to eat on the food you serve, it just tastes right and is very filling, blessings.

  31. Gravatar
    Bee

    God’s timing is amazing. Made the decision to leave my church a few weeks ago. Left the worship team as well as relinquishing various other duties. I was strangely at peace but wasn’t sure why. I just kept getting this message saying to me “it all boils down to love”. Still trying to figure out what that means. Anyway, I just stumbled across this post in a random search. God gives you just what you need, when you need it. Very cool! Plus, I’ve never been a type A, so the inner me is rejoicing right now :-)

  32. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Good to have you here Bee. If you can make it to a Barns and Nobel or Borders book store tomorrow, please pick up a copy of "The Misunderstood God" there. You can also get it on this site. This book is the essence of your statement, "It all boils down to love." Follow through with this coincidence because this article is only about 3% of why you're here.

    Blessings

  33. Gravatar
    greg sallee

    Hi Darin. I dont agree with everything you say, but to this article-Amen, Amen, and Amen!

  34. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    That's great Greg cause I was just thinking, I may not like your hair style but I really appreciate this comment:-) (just kidding - love ya man!!)

  35. Gravatar
    Mark Flint

    so true

  36. Gravatar
    jenny

    I guess it also frees you from forever comparing youself to others and coming up short. I've been through "finding your spiritual gifts" things (which usually amounted to finding what church work or ministry you do best) and come away feeling defeated and useless. Actually, for years I've felt too tired (in every way), down, and sort of "out of it" to work at anything much except loving my family. Can get scary when you hear IC teaching about what happens to branches that don't bear fruit. But God has been bringing to me the reality of His love and He knows and loves me as I am. (A lot of IC teaching I have heard implies "fruit" is people you have witnessed to or had a part in leading to the Lord!)

  37. Gravatar
    Sergei

    I've struggled for a long time with verses that say that I have to please God. I would think: "Boy, everything is by grace, but I still have to please God". Somehow it left me with no grace at all. Recently the Lord showed me that to please Him I have to stop trying to please Him. To please Him is not to do something for Him, but to fellowship with Him. Not slaving in the fields, but feasting with Him in the house. Not to work for Him, but to work with Him, like a child helping his father. Father does not really need the help of a small child, the whole idea behind this "work" is to spend time together. The same way our Daddy just wants to spend time with us, rather than watch us work for Him, having no time for Him.

  38. Gravatar
    scott

    what good is grace if it doesn't cover every sin? even the sins we keep committing and know we shouldn't! truth be told i believed i was saved by grace...and the avoidance of sin! i had to "work" to maintain "grace". all the while gauging the spirituality of others by their "works". wow what a mess i've been. thank you God for putting up with me.

  39. Gravatar
    Megan Metherall

    Oh my gosh - I've just read what has been happening to me for the last few months. I was SO works driven that when the Holy Spirit shed light on the reality of what was happening in my life, I had to do exactly what you've described here - DO NOTHING! It has been so liberating but yes, at the same time it has felt so weird and uncomfortable but - the FRUIT the FRUIT!!!!!

  40. Gravatar
    Jason Mahill

    Great insight. But I never had a problem with grace since I was taught from the beginning that works cannot get me there. I had the fortune of being in churches that hated legalism.

    I wonder if the real problem is that most teachers of the word speak out of both sides of their mouths...calling salvation a gift and telling people to count the cost.

  41. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    I think that has everything to do with it Jason. That's a great point.

  42. Gravatar
    Sisterlisa

    When I came out of IC, I knew my home and family was my 'service to God' and there were other areas (that some would say are works) that always came naturally to me so I didn't see them as works. But I do see what you mean.

    What you said to that lady is exactly what I say to people too. He loves them because Jesus is in them, plain and simple. It's been a wonderful life of ministry OUT of the IC by simply living life and allowing God to work His ministry in our lives spontaneously every day.

  43. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    I like the way you put it Sisterlisa. "Spontaneously" That's great girl.

  44. Gravatar
    Ellen

    Great blog! I enjoy the freedom you bring to light.

  45. Gravatar
    Katarina

    I love this! What you described in the last couple of paragraphs is exactly the experience I had when I first started learning about Grace. In fact, many of those activities I still don't do :-)

  46. Gravatar
    Darin Hufford

    Thanks Kat. I'm so glad you're here.

  47. Gravatar
    Dave

    So wonderful Darin, I LOVE YOU MAN! (an oldy, but still good.) I wish I could just laminate this, and carry it around with me, so when all my "church" friends who are praying for me to come out of my backsliding, start in on me, I could just hand it to them. But then it would just cause them to call you a heretic, and then they would say that they would pray for both of us. Too funny. Gonna have to share this on my FB page and urge my friends who aren't free believers but still under the roof of guilt and works to read it.

  48. Gravatar
    Jim

    Dealing with a disability myself, and having a stepson with autism, I have had to learn about living in grace alone. I was once very busy in the church, a worship musician for 30 years. it was only until 5 years ago when my 1st marriage ended in divorce that I learned how to truly walk in faith and grace. I would not trade the experience for anything.

  49. Gravatar
    Tim

    "It has been my experience that a person cannot fully comprehend the truth of God’s love and grace until they intentionally stop doing everything."

    Wow! That's freedom. Will I ever be able to enter into such freedom with abandon? I don't think I have yet. What will it take?

  50. Gravatar
    Greg

    Great article Darin.
    Through much soul searching and listening to my heart, I have come to the conclusion that the problem with the church today is they mix the OT with the NT and have invented a gospel of grace with a hint of work and law.
    The law based yeast has spoilt the dough of the grace message and left us with an inferior product that is out of date!
    This bread has not been made in line with the manufacturers recommendations so is worthless.
    Great stuff Darin. I have been reading and listening to your material and it has certainly helped me as I have been breaking free from the shackles of religion.

  51. Gravatar
    Frazer

    Waw! I've just read this and realised my whole 4 years of being a believer has been built on the bible and not God. I have put my faith and hope in the word and yet I don't know Jesus. What a waste of time! I am left so confused. I find myself questioning even the smallest things like "Why pray?". It's caused me that much harm! I have told my girlfriend (who's not a Christian) "Jesus loves you!" And here I am not knowing what love is even if it hit me in the face! I feel so confused, depressed and I don't even know what to do no more. Boy did I need to hear this! I have been a slave to religion for far too long! Thank you Darin!

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