71 Comments

  1. The school I went to was the same way. The real reason I ended up leaving is because I wasn’t doing good enough in my major- elementary education. Same as you – no mater how hard I tried etc it was never good enough and they told me the same thing – do better or pick another major. So I left. After 3 years of hard work.

    I also struggle with the perfectionism I always believed God desired. I still do. My dad was a perfectionist and nothing was ever good enough for him. Add that to the legalistic background I grew up in and it was just a mess. I am still learning over the past few recent years what grace realy is. That God does not require perfection, that no one is perfect, that after we fail we need to not give up, we need to pick ourselves up again and keep going.

    Do you think that rewarding people for their actions can make it easier for them to fall into the trap of legalism? I am not sure. When I first read your post I thought nah… but then I thought about all the awards that my school gave out each quarter. I wonder how bad the students felt who didn’t get any or the ones who never felt good enough. I was one who always got the character awards and the trophies… I think that’s a tough one and I don’t think awards are bad in of themselves, but maybe there needs to be a balance.

    Great thoughts!

    • I never knew that’s why you left college. Thanks for sharing.

      About rewards, that’s so tough. I find myself rewarding and praising Ezra all of the time for his actions saying “good boy!” and “good job!” Even in the secular world, being rewarded for and by your actions is a very normal part of life.

      But at the same time, especially when it comes to Christian awards – such as “Christian character” or like the “citizenship award” at my school (which was basically an award for Christian character, being a good girl, etc)—-how much of that is necessary? Can we really judge a person’s heart? Really the only way they judged my character was by my actions, how much I obeyed the rules, how nice/sweet I was.

      And I saved all of those! Seriously, today I dug them all out of my scrapbooks – trophies of the girl I once was. I was shocked to see how may ribbons I got for character, endurance, church attendance, diligence, and 4 years worth of “citizenship” awards (in 7 years I spent at that school)! Is that much rewarding of character necessary? How much did my desire for awards and being recognized for my actions played into how easily I was sucked into legalism?

      It’s something I’m still thinking on!

      • kathrynann24

        Yeah that was the main part. Also, cause I was so afraid of always breaking the rules I was constantly on edge and always felt anxious, but the major thing was the main part of it. I don’t tell a lot of people cause I am embarrassed a little.

        Yeah I went to Christian school 12 years and they gave out Character awards every quarter (4 times a year) and then trophies at the end of each year. You can imagine how many I accumulated my mom saved them all lol. But I agree they were judging based on my behavior not my heart, but I mean that’s they can do, all God knows the heart. I don’t know it’s tough. I think as long as their is a balance it’s ok.

  2. i keep thinking about how your whole series is such an awesome example of the difference between a religion, and a relationship with God. so many people think they have a “relationship” with Jesus when really, they have a bunch of rules they keep and things they do to try and make God love them. religion is like a marriage relationship that is based on performance…no true intimacy, no real connection, no vulnerable trust, no acceptance or grace. i can’t imagine being married to someone who only loves me for what i can do or be or give them. i know that if i had a husband who didn’t love me aside from my performance, then i wouldn’t be able to have a real relationship at all with him. it would just be empty, and i would always being trying to make him love me. i think God is the same way – He just wants us to love us, and us to love Him back, no strings attached. :) and it’s that Love that changes us. <3

    • It’s so funny/ironic that you should mention it, as I brought so much of this negative thinking into my marriage and lived a marriage like that for a long time – not because of my husband’s expectations but because of my own. Trying to earn his love at every turn, trying to cook and clean, buy gifts, listen well enough – and then I was so frustrated when my performance in marriage didn’t seem to be rewarded nearly as much as my spiritual performance had been rewarded in the past. So I constantly struggled (er..struggle) with self-worth, not feeling like a good enough wife, and being constantly afraid that he doesn’t love me because I’m not doing enough. It’s a vicious cycle of negative thinking that starts in my OWN mind and takes ahold of me often. Trying to break it!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  3. Thanks for this post, it exemplifies what the Law, The 10 Commandments purpose was : to come to the end of our self and recognize our need for a Savior. Even as Christians, many still perform and are legalistic, trying to maintain perfection in their outward conduct. But on the inside they have not submitting to the Lord of Life, and allowed Him to work His perfect peace and grace in and through. We are transformed by Christ. But often try to do it by our own strength working from the outside in. When this occurs we become the foolish Galatians Paul admonishes in Galatians 3:1. it can’t be done in or through the flesh, but by the Spirit. Thank for your honesty in your post. To often we are working on a reward system,(especially in the church).So performance minded, but It is all by His grace, not something we can earn.So no man can boast.

  4. “The problem with #legalism is that it isn’t legalistic enough. It dumbs down God’s law to make it do-able, negating the need for Christ.”

    This really struck a note with me. As a fellow perfectionist, there is safety in rules and boundaries and expectations for me. I know what I’m allowed to do, what I’m expected to do, and if I’m within the boundaries, I must be ok then, right?! Wrong. This is a big area I’ve had to overcome within our marriage. My husband treats me as an adult, and as such, I’m free to make my own decisions in regards to… everything! As it should be. But coming from a much more controlling home, the freedom freaked me out at first!
    In relationship with God, sometimes I admit that I think it would be easier if God had a routine scheduled out for me that I just simply followed each day. But then I have to remind myself that, yes, it takes away the need for Christ and His grace.

    • So well said! In many ways things were easy when I was basing my life on a system of rules because you think you are okay all the time – now daily I have to remind myself how much I need God and his grace. Legalism makes it far too easy to be self-sufficient.

  5. jeanniere

    On the flip side of perfectionism is failure. I have never been a perfectionist but always fallen short of the mark. However, I have lived my entire life surrounded by perfectionists (parents, husband, children, spiritual authorities etc.) And when the perfectionists whom you love, point their finger and let you know what a failure you are the devastation is complete. You simply quit trying. You will never be enough for those you love. And you will never fulfill the expectations of being “acceptable unto God.” All you can do is trust the character of God, trust His Word, pray for the comfort of His Spirit and wait until He calls you home. I long for the day in which I can be held in the arms of the One who says, “You are enough and I love you.”

    • I long for the day in which I can be held in the arms of the One who says, “You are enough and I love you.”

      That is something that can be experienced here, and now. While not every human hurt can be erased, not every perfectionistic cutting comment from every loved one can be forgotten, God’s grace can still be enough for you, and for me, right now.

      I’m learning that when we reach the point where we “simply quit trying” – that’s exactly where God wants us. He wants us to stop trying to fulfill the expectations of others and simply rest in his grace.

      We are all failures in our own strength, our own righteousness, and our own goodness. And there is no room to accept or feel God’s grace and love for us when we are holding onto our own goodness.

      I’m learning (slowly) to let go of how good I think I am or have been – to stop justifying myself and judging others.
      To let go of every failure, real or perceived.
      To let go of guilt and the feelings of never being enough.

      And simply let go of everything but God and his grace.

      “You are good, you are good, when there’s nothing good in me…
      You are God, you are God, of all else I’m letting go.”

  6. jeanniere

    Sometimes even when you have let go and you do nothing but “be still” there continues to be wilderness. When you cry to God for deliverance and strength He just says wait. And all that is left is waiting for the promise of an eternity with Him. My desire for God is stronger than it has ever been before. There is no fight left. There is no holding on. As the Israelites wandered in the wilderness waiting to enter the promised land I walk through each day with a greater desire to enter into His presence. Some can let go and perfectly embrace Grace, and some just let go and wait.

  7. […] Introduction: some self-observations about legalism Part 1: what is “legalism”? Part 2: standing under the broken heart Part 3: hiding in shame, packing up my dreams Part 4: when you “trust and obey” but your heart still gets broken Part 5: when you’ve been hurt by legalism, hold onto faith Part 6: What do Brad Pitt, Josh Groban, and Sleepless in Seattle have in common? Part 7: perfection is not possible […]

  8. Crumbs that’s a proper Nazi regime. I am not surprised you struggle with ME/CFS; that’s exactly the sort of thing that would bring it on.

    If you are a gifted pianist, which it sounds as though you are, then you do not need as much practice time as someone who is less gifted. And if you aced the test despite not having ‘done enough practice’, then this is further proof of this.

    You – and anyone else reading this – do not need to let yourself be influenced by people like that, either at the time, or in the present due to the hurt they caused. I am so glad you found your freedom!

    • Yup. It was brutal! I never did graduate from college but leaving behind the music major is not a decision I regret. It sucks the life out of you in so many ways!!!

  9. Vine Royale

    Perfection IS possible. Grace is the word of GOD from JESUS’s mouth that teaches us how to walk right. When you start obeying (walking) and abiding in the things HE tells you; then you become perfect in HIS word. This is why it is written:
    Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of GOD. Matthews 4

    Why call me “LORD, LORD” and do not what I say. Luke 6

    If you love me keep my commandments. John 14

    Who ever abides in HIM does not sin; Who ever sins has not seen HIM neither known HIM. 1 John 3 (4-10).

    With men it is impossible, but with GOD all things are possible. Matthew 19

    To say that perfection is not possible is an inward declaration that you will not stop sinning. Everyone has knowledge of what is good and evil. The only people who have not learned good and evil are babies. But little children can come to an age of accountability because they are taught and learn and know good and evil.

    Hebrews 10
    26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
    27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
    28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
    29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

    GRACE is the lessons we receive to walk in righteousness. Without grace you cannot walk in righteousness.

    JESUS’ obedience is only half of the way to perfection. YOU have to do your part. If GOD believed that we could not be perfect HE would not have said, BE YE PERFECT AS YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER IS PERFECT.

    Perfection is abiding in all that JESUS has told you. That’s it. Nothing more. What you do not know HE cannot and will not punish you for it. Remember Nineveh? Yeah HE spared their life for a season because they did not know right from wrong.

    Repent. SEEK JESUS for truth. Stop depending on your abilities and the abilities of man and start trusting JESUS. LEARN the VOICE of JESUS and ABIDE in all that HE tells you.

    They way HE destroys the enemies’ works is by you learning from HIM, who is our HIGH PRIEST, to teach us the way that is right. Men cannot do this. Therefore you do not need to put your trust in men:
    Psalms 118
    8 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.
    9 It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.

    JESUS bless you.

  10. As a friend of mine said:
    If perfection is not possible, then there is something that God cannot do. If Jesus cannot perfect us, as He said, He cannot be God. Saying that you cannot be perfected is the same as declaring that Satan is more powerful than God, and that Satan is the one that must be obeyed, but God cannot be obeyed.

    • You are pulling these words out of the context of the entire series, which is unwise. This was a process for me, and this post is only one part of the process.

      • Aprille’s suggestions about making sure you read the entire series are reasonable. The whole series makes complete sense, when you read it as a series. If you just want to reply on this particular part of the series, the picture is incomplete; the process of Aprille’s understanding and her paradigm shifts will become clear as you read the series in its entirety. It’s like you’ve come in to a story and only read the beginning; there is still a middle and an end to go! Please do read the whle series – it is worth it and may lead you into more freedom than you ever dreamed possible. Don’t forget too that Aprille knows the Bible as well as anyone, and these posts are made in full knowledge of the Scriptural message and also in complete honesty of her own spiritual walk. Don’t shoot it down before you’ve read it all!

        • You are mistaken.

          I do not have to fill my soul with garbage. If people want to sit down and read other people’s life story as if it is GOD’s word they are at liberty to do so because they do that with celebrities. You must be one of them.

          Since neither you and Aprille have not understood, PEOPLE DON’T SEE THE SERIES they see one thing, which means the PROCESS does not matter.

          If you cannot see how the SERIES leads people to continue to sin and justify their sins then you have a serious problem my friend.

          But thanks for your thoughts.

          JESUS bless you as well.

          • Then I have a serious problem. But faithful is He who began the good work in me, to continue it until the Day of Jesus (sorry, JESUS) Christ. I am secure in His hands, as is Aprille, and as are you.

            Bless you too in return :)

        • Also, Tony, I have learned from the mouth of JESUS. I know what it means to be liberated not only from religion but also from sin.

          I learned to stop sinning. If you or Aprille can testify to these things; then you should speak of it.

          At some point GOD has to tell her to pull down what people are seeing because it is misleading.

          Please don’t judge me and think I am stupid. Many religious people are able to quote bible verses better than myself, but they have found themselves in a bad situation.

          Let’s put it this way…I do not go to “church” because it is filthy and I will not read information that does not promote truth and godliness.

          So, my response is justified because I’m seeing one thing. Maybe we should count how many people have read the series before retweeting some foolish image. Perhaps that will get your attention…

          • I too have learned from the mouth of Jesus, and I continue to do so. We are all on the same journey, brother, but perhaps out boats are in different flotillas. However this does not negate our journeys as futile nor as wrong. I don’t do Scripture bombing (as I note that you don’t either – thanks!!) but I was recently working on 1Jn21:22, where even regarding Peter’s close friend John, Jesus told him that John’s journey is his own walk and not Peter’s. Aprille (and I on my blog http://tinyurl.com/jjn5bx6) share what has brought us into freedom, so that perhaps others too might realise that they, like you, me and Aprille, have found freedom outside the walls of constraining religion.
            I’d be interested to know how you came to the position you are in now, where you don’t ‘do’ Church; I too was in that position as a believer, but for fifteen years. You are not alone, but remember each of us has our own journey whether in church or outside it. Of course, even if you don’t ‘do’ Church, you are still part of it because you are in Christ!

  11. Vine Royale

    Why have you removed my comments?

    Are you offended of the truth? Does it bother you to know you can be perfected if you learn to obey the voice of GOD? Or do you not believe HE can speak to you?

    You are not required to be perfect with men. Only with JESUS. HE makes you perfect by teaching you how to stop sinning. Nothing else matters to HIM as long as you obey and follow HIM alone.

    Please be encouraged and seek JESUS for truth.

    JESUS bless you.

    • Have you read the rest of my series? If not, please do before making any further comments. It will put this post within context and help you better understand the conclusions I have made here. I moderate all comments and did not feel like your interpretation was what those texts were saying. Nor helpful to myself or my audience.

      • Vine Royale

        Aprille, it would have been better if you had just replied with your objection, refusal or agreement than to remove the information. Based on your actions and words, it seems you really do believe that perfection is impossible. I read enough to the point where I just got bored because it did not lead anyone to JESUS or encourage anyone to stop sinning. In all honesty, your series of what you want to talk about is nothing to me or anyone who is looking for the truth about perfection. And based on these words that you have spoken:

        “But God also knew that no one was capable of it. That’s why Jesus HAD to die. He was perfection in our place. And HIS perfection is enough to satisfy God’s demands.”

        coupled with your desire that people retweet this image:

        “Perfection is not possible That’s why we need Jesus That’s why we need grace”

        is an untrue statement that speaks to your hearts condition. Therefore; reading the rest of your SERIES would be a waste of time because you have already declared something that is not true to be true.

        If you want to minister the word of GOD ask JESUS for the information. It’s written to speak what HE tells you in the ear. Your mess has nothing to do with the word of GOD because it’s not your mess that brings people to GOD it’s the words that JESUS speaks to you to give to people that brings them to HIM.

        I have posted truthful information that I received directly from the mouth of GOD. HE told me perfection is possible. I learned that people can stop sinning where HE HIMSELF told me I was blameless. I learned the Word of GOD is JESUS and the spoken word comes directly from HIS mouth. All this among other things by simply going to JESUS.

        And, how are you judging what is good for your audience when you are MODERATING what is viewable from what is not? I thought this was supposed to promote godliness. This is the kind of nonsense organized religion does. They bar the truth to have popularity and full authority when JESUS is supposed to be the HEAD of them. John testified of this in his letter:

        3 John 1
        9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

        You just did exactly what Diotrephes did to John and his companion(s).

        With that said, you may want to examine your heart. The information that was given was to encourage you and other people, but mostly the other people to know that perfection is possible. What you did was is sin. It’s what is called unrighteous judgement.
        I’ve been kicked out of church twice, kicked off of a website, hated and unrighteously judged and persecuted in JESUS’ name.

        If you have come to understand that perfection is possible; then say so. Testify of how you came the this understanding. Tell of what JESUS taught you. Pull down the information that is presently deceiving people and start encouraging them in the truth.

        But if you still believe that perfection is not possible then why are you instructing me to read information that is going to against the truth of what I have learned?

        Now the question is DO YOU AGREE that PERFECTION IS POSSIBLE? The answer can only be a straight “Yes” or a straight “No”. No blemishes; not additives. Just a solid “Yes” or a solid “No”.

        • I have approved your comment and will go back and approve the rest but I will not debate this issue further with you. I share of what Jesus has taught me in the rest of this series, but if you deem it boring and a waste of your time to actually read the rest, I have nothing further to say to you.

        • Also, ALL comments are held in moderation until I feel I’m ready to respond. Sometimes that takes me a few weeks. I’m a busy mom of a child with special needs and a baby as well as caregiver to my husband. Blog comments fall fairly low on my list of priorities especially when they are combative.

          • Vine Royale

            No combativeness on my end. Just stating the truth and the obvious.

            JESUS bless you and your family.

          • Vine Royale

            Again, examine your heart.

            Can you imagine if GOD thought all your questions were combative? Questions are not combative. They give room for thought and an opportunity to make clarification. If you don’t like questions don’t post on social media. It’s not like I was interrogating you about you.

            Also, attempting to force people to read information, which you still have not made your understanding known, is blatant disrespect.

            You’re still judging unrighteously. I really encourage you to stop and think about your responses. I’m not here to argue with you about your feelings. I’m only here to encourage people in the right and true things. You can hate me all you like, but you won’t be the last.

            JESUS bless you.

  12. And Aprille, I believe I made it clear as to why it’s a waste of time. The information contained misleads people. If you truly believe that you can be perfected NOW before JESUS comes, then say so. Don’t turn me into some villain because you are offended of the truth.

    This obviously has nothing to do with GOD. Just your SELF WILL to speak and vent openly, and in a healthy way, about something you went through.

    JESUS bless you.

    • No. I do not believe Scripture supports the idea that Christians can be sinless (perfect) before Jesus come. More importantly, which I am trying to say here in this post (and others to come), is that without God’s grace and power in our lives, we are incapable of being good, perfect, sinless, etc. Any attempts of ours to be righteous of our own power either for our salvation (eternal destiny) or our sanctification (our growing in Christ-likeness) are futile. That is the point of this post and several later on in the series which you will, most likely, never read.

      • EXACTLY!!!!

        This is why I posted the information. And then you want me to read your series? That’s really rude and very unjust.

        Do you know how many people make me into a villain the way you have just done?

        This is why I have no fellowship with religious people. They ALL do the same thing to me. My whole life is surrounded by unrighteous judgement.

        All you had to do was make this statement and then we could have a healthy conversation, which ,with what JESUS taught using scriptures and parables (not written in the scriptures), I would have encouraged you further.

        WOW!!!!

        Thanks! Just thanks.

        • All of this has already been clearly stated, both in this post and others, which is why it didn’t need to be restated again. I will not be responding to any further comments from you.

          • That’s my point! You made it clear that you don’t believe perfection is possible ON THE FIRST PAGE so why would I need to read the WHOLE SERIES only to come to the same conclusion that is already apparent then come across as if you do believe that perfection is possible? Why would get all bent out of shape for what I posted? Why would you make me into a villain and accuse me of being combative, when you don’t believe?

            That’s deceitful, prideful and wicked.

            And you know what else? Because of your actions: your words; I have decided that I would will no longer talk to you so called believers of JESUS. For the last time you people have made me to feel like a villain and make me cry or feel cast down.
            This is exactly what JESUS must have realized, felt and went through when dealing with HIS “own”.

            I’m going to start talking to people outside of Christianity.

            GOD BLESS YOU.

        • Fortunately, the unrighteous judgements of others do not need to play a part in your life :) Your freedom is complete and I am glad you have found it. For sin, personally, I do sin still, but thanks be to God that everything I have ever done, do now, and will ever do is covered by the Cross. So I walk in freedom and don’t even think about sin, because in Christ He has set me free from *all* of the effects of sin, which includes being hung up about it all the time. I don’t even think about it; I just get on with walking with my Best Friend Ever – Jesus :) Walking in the Spirit is like that, as I am sure you are aware. Its just that maybe I do it a little differently from you. But that’s ok too, because He deals with us each according to our needs and personalities. Blessings on you, bro :)

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