The List :: By Sandy Howard

I have a feeling that the reason a lot of people reject the idea of believing in Christ for salvation is due to the oftentimes unspoken “list.” We all know the “list.” It is an extensive group of do’s and don’ts we are led to think we must all abide by in order to earn or to keep salvation. First of all, the list tends to vary from generation to generation, so confusion is felt by all as to which rules have dropped off the list and which new rules have been added. I realize this article might cause some people to disagree but, nevertheless, the Truth is still the Truth. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Yet, some are afraid to say these things out loud. I admit, the older I get, the less I am afraid to speak my mind. And in this case, I feel led to write this down.

Just to name a few rules from THE LIST:

  • No cussing.
  • No gambling.
  • No drinking (some believe this includes caffeine… (“WHAT? No coffee, no Pepsi?”).
  • No smoking.
  • No mixed swimming (this one may have dropped off the list; I’m not sure).
  • No dancing.
  • No cutting your hair (for women only, and I think this one might have dropped off the list too).
  • No NOT cutting your hair (for men only, no long hair on men allowed).
  • No missing a church service, EVER.
  • No makeup (for women, but again, I am pretty sure this one has dropped off the list).
  • No wearing pants (for women only, but this might be one of the most misunderstood items on the list because most think the Bible teaches that women should not wear men’s apparel, which it indeed does, but it is talking about women dressing AS men, not women wearing pants. After all, back in the day, Jesus and all other men wore robes, for crying out loud).
  • No wearing a hat in church (for men only, but this may have dropped off the list now too).
  • No eating or drinking in the sanctuary (I KNOW this one has dropped off the list in the current generation).
  • No going to movies (this one has also dropped off the list in the current generation).
  • No gossiping.
  • No lying.
  • No overeating, or gluttony (this one for sure dropped off the list generations ago – at least in the Baptist denomination, ha ha. We do love our church dinners).
  • No showing bare legs, bare ankles, bare arms or bare backs (for women, however, this one also came off the list generations ago).
  • No playing cards (also off the list now).
  • No fornication or adultery (definitely still on the list, as it should be. As I like to say “because it could lead to dancing”… had to throw that little funny in there).
  • No secular music.
  • No impure thoughts.
  • No envy.
  • No jealousy.
  • No lusting after other women (or men).

So, the question becomes, “Can I toe the line and keep up with all these requirements, ALL the time?”

The answer is very likely “no.” So, believing in Christ for salvation that is perceived to be linked to the list, is rejected. And even those who do believe in Christ, and are saved as a result of that belief, grow weary of trying hard to keep the list in order to KEEP their salvation; so, many times, people give up trying to grow close to Him in their walk, and turn their focus back to the world and it’s enticements. These people are still saved, if they truly trusted in Christ as the Son of God, Who died on the cross in payment for their sins and rose from the dead. But most who have been led to believe keeping the list is paired with salvation, and failed to keep it to the letter after salvation, are led to believe they have ‘lost’ their salvation as a result of not keeping to the list 24/7.

Please, please understand that I in no way am indicating that once you believe on Christ for salvation, you should run wild. You SHOULD strive to keep the Commandments, but not because you might lose your salvation if you don’t. You should keep to these things because God wants to protect you from the harm that can (and will) come for living a disobedient lifestyle. And He wants you to have the most peaceful, blessed life on this earth that is possible. He loves you SO much and wants to have a close personal relationship with you.

How close a personal relationship do you think you might have with a spouse or a friend if you were to continually and deliberately insult, cheat on, lie to or never speak to them?

It is dangerous to mislead people. Christians have a responsibility to stand up for the Truth. Another thing that is troubling about this mindset is that it tends to keep Christians focused on self (which delights the enemy, I’m sure) instead of focusing on sharing the Gospel with others, focusing on a stronger relationship with Him, focusing on loving and helping your neighbor, focusing on developing your gifts/talents God has given you and looking forward to going Home to heaven, to our glorious rewards.

As Christians, we have hope. We have nothing to fear; not even death. We have the assurance that when we leave this world, we will instantly be Home with Him. We have JOY in knowing that.

Isaiah 61:10 “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”

How on earth can anyone have joy and look forward to eternity if they are constantly scared to death that they have broken one or more of the rules on the list, causing them to go to hell?!

This, in my view, is actually almost accusing God of just waiting gleefully for the moment you will commit a sin so He can get revenge on you, by making you feel like you are going to hell because you failed to keep the list.

Hebrews 10:10 “By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL.”

John 10:28-29 “And I give them eternal life, and they shall NEVER perish; neither shall ANYONE snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and NO ONE is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”

NO ONE in Greek, Hebrew, French or Swahili, still means NO ONE, which includes you.

The Law was given to prove that we humans, who are ALL sinners and have ALL come short of the Glory of God, indeed are NOT able to keep it. Not one of us could ever be good enough to earn our salvation. Actually, our good works, before salvation, are as filthy rags to God.

Isaiah 64:6 “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags….”

Even if we were to keep to the list for a lifetime, which we all know is not possible, we would still not be good enough to measure up to the Glory of God, because we are born with a sin nature (ever since Adam & Eve), and we cannot shed that sin nature, no matter how hard we try, or wish we could, for all of our lives on this earth. Getting shed of my sin nature is one of the best things to look forward to when I get to Heaven, I think. I doubt we could keep perfectly to the list for one month, let alone a lifetime. That is the reason God sent His Only Son to be the sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Not one of us could ever earn it on our own, no matter how long the “list”! And not one of us could ever KEEP our salvation either! It is not ours to keep in the first place. We have been bought with a price and are no longer our own.

1 Corinthians 6:20 “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

He paid the price, and He alone owns us. We are part of His body.

1 Corinthians 12:27 “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.”

We are His Bride!

Romans 7:4 “Therefore, my brethren you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another – to Him who was raised from the dead, that we would bear fruit to God.”

And the one and only thing that we must do to have this assurance of everlasting life is to BELIEVE in Him, by faith.

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever BELIEVES IN HIM (all caps mine) should not perish but have everlasting life.”

What it does NOT say: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life, but only if you keep the list for the rest of your life on earth.

I think this is why some people say things like, “I hope I make it to heaven.” Because they are not really sure they will be good enough to qualify. I can end all doubt right now. You WON’T ever be good enough to qualify. But Jesus IS good enough. His righteousness covers our sins, ALL our sins, past, present and future. And that is the ONLY way to God and eternal life – through Jesus. That’s it! No add-ons, no rules, no lists, no laws.

So, please, if you have been putting off believing Christ because of the “list,” or for any other reason, don’t wait any longer. I think everyone realizes by now that this world is on a downward spiral that spins and wobbles and shakes more every day. It is almost over friends. Not much, if ANY, time is left. No one is guaranteed the next moment. And by the way, there is no gray area between Jesus and Satan. If you are not serving Christ, then by default, you are serving Satan.