I have my set of rules to live by. I desire to be more than I was when I came to the understanding that Jesus is the only way. My rules to live by are designed to achieve that goal.
Don’t smoke, don’t chew, don’t go with girls that do.
I’m not sure where in the Bible you will find this brilliant, “don’t smoke, don’t chew, don’t go with girls that do” poetry, but it must be there somewhere. Add, “God helps those who help themselves” as well as “good things come to those who wait” and we are well on the way to a strong set of rules. To complete our guide to the rules of Christ following we must make sure that there is no confusion over our stance on alcohol, rock music, card games, board games and the always demonic drums in church.
By their very nature rules separate us from God instead of bring us closer.
Once we have our rules do we really need to talk to God? The Bible is clear about what is sinful and we have centuries of human thought on the application of God’s word. In our journey to become more and more the person God has called us to be, have we replaced talking to God with rules?
Rules are based on absolutes, life is very rarely that black and white.
I believe there are moral absolutes that only exist because they are part of the design of our creator. I don’t believe that moral absolutes automatically create application absolutes. The Pharisees and Jesus had a running battle over what constituted work. This made the application of keeping the Sabbath day holy difficult. We tell our kids that God forbids sex before marriage but isn’t sex the bond of marriage (see 1 Corinthians 6:15-16)? Paul tells the Romans to obey those in authority but Daniel refused to stop praying when ordered, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down and worship the golden image as commanded and Jesus would not follow the teachings of the religious leaders. North American Christian culture leans toward an alcohol-free lifestyle while other parts of the world would wonder why this was a rule.
It is time to ask ourselves:
- What part of our set of rules is based on preference rather that biblical truth?
- What part of our set of rules is based on local Christian culture rather than biblical truth?
- Have I created application absolutes because God has given us moral absolutes?
The line between Godly behaviour and sin is most likely not as thick and defined as my rule book makes it appear. I need to throw out the rule book I have created and start again based around these two truths; God’s character is unchanging – God’s approach is constantly changing. I will replace all my rules with one rule; ask God what He wants me to do. His response will never contradict His character or the revelation of His character (the Bible) but it may contradict my preferences, local Christian culture and application absolutes.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)
Great article Dave. Relevant and helpful. I can’t imagine a Christian who hasn’t struggled with these ‘rules’ to live by. I know I certainly have. Time for me to re-evaluate, talk to my Creator and read His owners manual.
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