Category Archives: Rule Following
God is not an impotent, egocentric dictator who concocted the Ten Commandments as a cosmic power grab. God’s Law is a gift to humanity; not a subversive control system. God did not order compliance with the Decalogue to show the Universe who was Boss or because He narcissistically needed attention or followers.
No. It is our enemy who leveled those untrue charges against the Most High. It is the Deceiver who accused, and continues to accuse, God of being a dictatorial tyrant. The Father of Lies, not God, demands absolute obedience from his followers. It is the Enemy of Souls, not our Loving God, who refuses to share power. God has invited us to boldly approach His Throne anytime we wish. The Deceiver would not even extend an invitation like, “Come, let us, reason together.”
The Deceiver has manipulatively whispered to humanity that we must gratify and placate our narcissistic God’s fragile ego. . . or He will become angry and enraged and condemn us to eternal Hell.
Alas, we have been listening.
If God desired rigid and absolute compliance, God could have easily designed Humans without Freedom of Choice. God could have created us with no ability to rebel against His law. In fact, by withholding Freedom of Choice, God could have saved Himself millennia of angst, anguish, rebellion, and the heartbreak of sacrificing His Son to atone for our sins. So why did God bestow such a sacred and princely gift upon the race of humans? Why did He give humans Freedom of Choice? The answer is simple: Because God Loves us deeply and could not stand for us not to be free!
God’s Laws are designed to benefit humans 100% and to benefit God 0%. I’ll repeat that: God’s Laws are designed to benefit humans 100% and to benefit God 0%. They are for our benefit alone. When observed instead of merely followed, God’s laws promise each human enhanced freedom, and a life filled with abundance and Joy. ‘Blind allegiance’ (aka rigid commandment following), on the other hand, makes it feel like our freedom is being curtailed and stripped away; fails to deliver grace or mercy; eradicates peace, Joy, Truth, and Love; completely disregards “The Greatest Commandment”; advances the Deceiver’s accusation that God is an unjust tyrant; and often blocks our ability to receive the blessings God’s Law was designed to provide and which Jesus’ Life guaranteed: An Abundant Life.
Is your Life filled with abundance? Or do you struggle to ‘keep’ God’s Law but find yourself still feel mired in physical, mental, spiritual, financial or interpersonal issues? If any area of your life is less than abundant, you may be thwarting Jesus’ promise of abundance by rigidly attempting to follow God’s Law. This blocks us from abundance and leads to legalism. It causes us to become hypocritical and judgmental and cheapens grace and mercy. Making ‘not breaking commandments’ our primarily goal inexorably begins our descent to a life of quiet desperation as we feel diminishing levels of peace, Joy, Truth, and Love. Observing the Commandments as God intended, instead of ‘rigidly following them’ is a simple but critical step in maturing as a Christian. This step leads directly to the Abundant Life Jesus promised.
Remember that in addition to promising Abundance, Jesus also declared that He did not come to abolish the Law but to fulfill the Law. How does someone ‘fulfill’ a Law? If you get nothing else from this post, please prayerfully contemplate and focus on how someone ‘fulfills a law.’ Once we gain clarity on that issue our entire view of God, Love, Grace and the Plan of Salvation will be instantly and forever transformed. Everything before the moment we discover that Truth seems like a dull, black and white, uncertain and dangerous affair. When we truly grasp how Jesus ‘fulfilled the Law’ our Christian journey will suddenly burst alive into the vivid, Technicolor, abundant Life we have always dreamed!
Our focus as Christians should be on observing the Law as Jesus did, which means focusing on the purpose and intent behind the law, rather than rigidly apply its exact technical wording to every situation. This is considerably more daunting and difficult than simply ‘not transgressing the law’ and perhaps explains why many of us have settled for ‘not breaking it.’
So how should we observe God’s Law as Jesus did? Start by understanding that each provision is designed solely and 100% to benefit humans (i.e. recognize that God doesn’t get all butt-hurt when you break a law). Next, fully embrace the Truth that each of God’s Laws is aimed at maximizing Peace, Joy, Truth, Love and Abundance. When the “letter of the law” conflicts with the “Spirit of the Law” in a given situation, those who would Live as Christ need not hesitate in deciding on the course of action that maximizes Peace, Joy, Truth, and Love. We can confidently do this because we know that even if when we get it wrong once in awhile . . . God did not send Jesus to the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Christ. And whosoever believes in Jesus shall NOT perish but live eternally. (John 3.17,16)
Do you believe the words of John 3:16, 17?
Read them again. Allow the meaning to sink in and infuse every part of your soul with the beauty of the simple Truth it contains: ALL that is required to be Saved is ‘to believe in Jesus.’
Are you positive you believe those words?
It seems that to ‘believe in’ the Jesus described in John 3.16 we would necessarily have to ‘believe in’ the Jesus described in the very next verse. Do we really believe “Jesus came not to condemn the world but only to save it?” Or does the fact that we continue to white-knuckle all our little Christian behaviors expose the lie we tell ourselves. If our prime focus of our Christian walk is ‘not breaking Commandments’ than we do NOT believe John 3.17.
Christians are supposed to be ambassadors of Peace, Joy, Truth and Love to a world gravely lacking these qualities. Focusing on ‘not breaking Commandments’ can perhaps make us good, little, moral Boy and Girl Scouts. But it does NOT make us CHRISTians. CHRISTians believe in CHRIST. CHRISTians believe CHRIST died for their sins. Therefore, CHRISTians aren’t primarily focused on ‘not sinning’ in hopes that they can somehow complete the work that Jesus failed to do at Calvary.
No, the folks that fit that description are called Pharisees. They oppose Jesus. And that group includes me more often than I care to admit. Perhaps you have been a Pharisee on occasion, too? One of the numerous AWESOME things about God is if we are willing to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness, God is Faithful and Just and Merciful. God will not only forgive us on the spot . . . but he will cleanse us from all our unrighteousness.
All we have to do is appear boldly in His throne room and ask for forgiveness.
That does not at all sound like a dictatorial tyrant to me. THAT sounds like Love!
To go to Part Two and continue with the case study: “THE SABBATH WAS MADE TO BENEFIT HUMANS. HUMANS WERE NOT MADE FOR THE SABBATH”
– LINKS BELOW WILL BECOME CLICKABLE AS REFERENCED POSTS ARE PUBLISHED –
[Make Sabbath and Life more meaningful by “CREATING A SYMPHONY OF ABUNDANCE IN YOUR LIFE”]
[Jump to Part Three: “GOD’S LAWS ARE DESIGNED SOLELY FOR THE BENEFIT OF HUMANS”]
In Who is God? Part 1, we touched on a basic understanding of God’s Nature. Although there is a ton left to discuss, one thing is immediately of critical concern.
Relationship with God and Keeping Commandments
The Commandments are designed to improve our Lives, not limit our freedom…but they are NOT designed to create a relationship with God.
We often forget that God told the Israelites that He would deliver them from Egypt. And then time-and-time again God worked gigantic plagues to convince ole boy Pharaoh that the Son of Ra might want to let the Sons and Daughters of God have some freedom.
And then, God parted the Red Sea for His peeps. And made this awesome hovering light show that went with them everywhere. And gave them plans such that a city of about 2 million people traveled from Egypt to Canaan (even though it took human technology more than fourteen centuries to witness more than a handful of cities with over one million people.)
(Oh, and we are talking about FIXED cities. You know, the kinds with farming land and foundations, aqueducts and grazing pastures, hospitals and workshops, and other seemingly important things for any civilization to thrive).
Yet God moved a city of two million people in a proficient, orderly, and awesome manner.
Yep, braggin’ a little ‘bout da Lord. (See Who Is God?, Part 1) He is good!
But here’s the thing we often forget about the Journey from Egypt to the Promised Land: God came to Moses and the Israelites and said, “Hey, Trust Me – I AM going to get you outta this slavery gig.”
And He did.
And when Egypt forgot how ravaged they were by the plagues and decided to pursue Israel: God Red them the Riot Act (never mind; it’s a Sea joke.)
God asked for their Trust, proved He was worthy of their Trust and Love, and cared for them and provided for them . . . and only much, much, much later did God lead them to Sinai where He gave them the Ten Commandments.
See, whether it’s God or People: When we Trust, we begin to Love. And when we Love, we want to make sure we don’t offend the object of our affection…so we want to know their boundaries . . . or their ‘rules.’
Another words, Trust leads to Love, which leads to WANTING to follow the Others’ rules.
BUT IT DOES NOT WORK IN REVERSE! When someone we don’t Love or Respect (or know) tries to slap rules on us, how does it make you feel? Say, like that annoying guy in the cubicle next to you. Or, perhaps your boss trying to enforce a no texting at work policy. Maybe your Mother-in-law. Whether we agree with the rules or not, what do we do? Yep, me too.
If God would have just laid out a bunch of arbitrary and capricious rules, Israel would not have Trusted Him. Or Loved Him. Or even desired to come to Know Him.
Rules can never lead to a relationship. And we can ONLY be Saved by a Relationship with Jesus!
So, a Relationship with Jesus ALWAYS leads to us WANTING to follow His commandments. But when we dump a bunch of rules on New Believers, we only ensure that we are pushing them away from a Relationship with the One Who SAVES.
I like how the Apostle Paul puts it:
2 For athe law of the Spirit of life 1in bChrist Jesus chas set you free from the law of sin and of death. 3 For awhat the Law could not do, 1bweak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in cthe likeness of 2sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the arequirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who bdo not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:2-4 NAS
Requiring Someone to Follow Rules NEVER leads to Love or Trust. Following Commandments does NOT result in a relationship (except for the relationship of dictator/oppressed, perhaps). But Trusting and Loving ALWAYS lead to someone wanting to be part of your Life.
Or, another way to say it:
“NO ONE WILL CARE WHAT YOU KNOW, UNTIL THEY KNOW YOU CARE.”
God knows this principle and works this principle when dealing with humans.
From my heart to yours,
I do not know if it is only where I live, but it often seems like Christians focus on blindly following rules. Interestingly, we know better. When the question is asked at Church, ‘How are we saved?,’ no one at my Church answers, “following commandments.” So we intellectually understand that rule following is not what it means to be a Christian.
So why do we focus on rules so often? Why do we make doing or not doing things one of the most important aspects of our Christian walk?
I am not saying that no lying, no swearing, no tattoos, no stealing, no smoking and the all-important supreme focus of the Christian’s life: no sex of any kind outside of marriage (and seemingly only controlled, conservative, and minimally-pleasurable sex within), are terrible ways to live life.
Well, actually, I might take issue with them if they are not . . . uh . . . strictly Biblical…but that may have to wait for a future post.
But the important question is: Why do we do this? Does any of this “no fun” behavior help us to be Saved? Or does it just confirm Lucifer’s first rebellious accusation against God: That He is a tyrannical dictator who just makes rules without the consent of His governed . . .
Am I wrong in thinking that if we just follow rules without knowing why or under what circumstances we should or should not follow those rules — than we should call ourselves “Church-ians” rather than “Christ-ians” ?
Really. Do these behaviors, these “thou shalt nots” make us better Christ-ians?
If so, then I assume that every single Girl- and Boy-Scout is a shoe-in for Heaven, right?
Does the Bible ever indicate that any of these things we refrain from has the power to save us?
Does refraining from them somehow make us better Christians?
How about better people?
Or have we forgotten what the first six letters in the word “Christ-ian” actually stand for. I mean, if we embraced the name we seem to devote much of our focus to, our name may become the slightly more unwieldy: “I-don’t-do-that-ian” or “I-don’t-enjoy-sex-ian” or “No-tats-under-my-shirt-ian”.
It seems that we follow these ‘rules’ that God may-or-may-not-have-established but have no reason to do so except all our fellow Christians do so.
Which makes me wonder: If everybody else decided to reject and jump off the “Salvation Bridge” or the “Salvation Cliff” . . . would you?
I would Love to hear your thoughts.
From my heart to yours,