Skip to main content

Walking the Paths of Grace to True Freedom

Share This Devotional

When I became a Christian at the age of 24, I was a “babe in the woods” when it came to theology and understanding the difference between the Old and New Testament covenants and salvation by grace versus the law. I was simply desperate for Jesus to relieve my pain and suffering from severe mental illness, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorder, panic disorder and agoraphobia. When you are drowning, you simply want a life preserver, and Jesus was my lifeguard rescuer! However, after salvation, I still struggled with these issues. One characteristic of OCD is legalistic, ritualistic adherence to routines to reduce stress. Another OCD attribute was perfectionism, reinforcing the theological tendency to adopt law-based, legalistic standards of personal conduct. 

When I committed a sin, I was not able to forgive myself and ruminated over the problem, continually reliving the grisly details over and over like a recurring nightmare. My internal inner voice was harsh, self-condemning, speaking to myself in the third person saying, “you idiot,” “you loser” and “you coward” when I did not meet the perfectionistic standards. To make the spiritual and psychological pain even worse, I was flagellating myself with “God’s” disapproving voice and looks of disgust. What made these thoughts even more powerful, and controlling was that I did not share my pain and shame with others, given the fear that they too would judge or condemn. 

The result was a continual state of mental and spiritual distress in which the harmful thoughts produced negative emotions, which in turn, adversely influenced my behavior. For example, in my public speaking as a professor, I was ruthless in enforcing my rules for a speech. The long list includes no “ahs,” “ums,” filler words, no mistakes in pronunciation and more importantly, not looking or sounding nervous in any way—including a high-pitched voice, sweating, fast eye blinking, rapid eye movements, body swaying or fidgety body movements. But wait, there’s more! The highest form of humiliation and shame. which resulted in great self-punishment. was when I was nervous and started mixing my words (word salad), and then, horror of horrors, losing my place and freezing, the dreaded “deer in the headlights syndrome.” There were two such incidents in my speaking, which resulted in great distress and made presenting more difficult. 

I thank the Lord that God did not leave me in that state. I intellectually understood grace and that perfectionism was a forgivable sin, but it was not until God revealed that the true root of my fear is a form of pride based upon a “fear of man” and the need to receive positive feedback continually, because of my low self-esteem and broken and insecure heart. Slowly but surely, I began to study the true Gospel of grace and repent of my perfectionism I discovered that, like the early church believers, I did not have to honor all the Old Testament rules to “earn” God’s approval. The Apostle Peter, in relieving the burdens on the Gentile converts, said in Acts 15: “And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (v. 19, NLT)

I learned to stop judging and comparing myself to others (see 2 Corinthians 10:12 and Galatians 6:4) and allowed myself to make mistakes falling forward into God’s holy grace. Today my speaking is much more enjoyable, God’s peace rules, and most importantly, I am more authentic and less of an actor.

Father, I pray that You will give us the ability, motivation, and courage to see into our own heart, uncovering the sources of hidden sinful pride that lead us to embrace the false gods of perfectionism and legalism. By repenting and surrendering our defenses God will bring true freedom! To Him be the glory!


Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. 

Share This Devotional

About The Author

Professor Gary E Roberts
Gary E.

Gary Roberts joined Regent University’s Robertson School of Government in 2003 as a professor specializing in public administration and human resource management. Gary is married to his beautiful sweetheart Connie Roberts for over 40 years and is blessed with three lovely daughters and several angelic (most of the time!) grandchildren. They have a “pet family” of precocious cats from a stray mother and her three kittens. Gary was born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and loves his home state and its hills and mountains. One of Gary’s hobbies is collecting trash in his neighborhood while on his

How can CBN pray for you today?

We would love to pray for you or someone you care for. Please feel free to fill out the Prayer Request form.