The Inadequacy of Law-Based Living (Part I)
September 1, 2008
Despite the books and chapters of the Bible dedicated to teaching believers their freedom from the law, Christians still try to find victory and comfort through law. The flesh drives them to self-righteousness and performance, forgetting that only the righteousness of Christ living through us is valuable to God. Below are five characteristics of law-based living you may want to ponder. We will cover five more next article.
Rules become ends in themselves-freedom is restricted for no purpose or an outdated purpose.
The Pharisee's rulebook, Talmud-likely started out good to protect righteous living but became a rulebook without heart or spirit. The rules were not about love and they didn't work the greater purposes of God. In Romans 13:9-10, Paul writes that all commandments are summed up in one statement, Love your neighbor as yourself. He goes on to say that love is the fulfilling of the law. Many churches have their own Talmuds, which are no different in heart from the Pharisee's rulebook. If a way of life isn't about love it becomes a rule for rule's sake.
Man-made rules will always end up taking precedent over God's principles-Jesus clearly taught this in Matthew 15:1-9. In verse 8 and 9 He says,
This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Man-made rules become confused with God's rules-People totally lose touch with what is God and what is man. Many groups diligently obey their rules of righteous living, never knowing that their heart is far from the heart of God.
Man-made rules restrict the believer's freedom in Christ-Law creates fear of living by the Spirit, as in, "if we allow a little freedom, people will take too much, so don't allow freedom." This is NOT what Christ taught!
Paul writes, Stand fast therefore in the FREEDOM wherewith Christ has made you free (Gal. 5:1).
Some groups protect their laws by teaching people not to ask why. Why can be asked rebelliously if a person's heart isn't right, but living by the spirit means understanding why you do what you do. Four-year-old Rachel was crossing the street to visit our home. My wife bellowed out the window to her, Rachel, you didn't look both ways before you crossed. Rachel stopped, ran back across the street, looked both ways and re-crossed the street. Rachel didn't know the spirit of the rule.
Rules cannot produce a righteous life. Some people think that living by the Spirit is license for sin and loose living. I say the opposite: living by the Spirit is a far higher standard of love, purity and holiness. This is because living by the Spirit is based on a heart passion to please God, not on restrictive rules.
Read the challenge of Colossians 2: 20-23,
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh.
Wherever there are rules, there are loopholes to the rules. Rules can be used to justify wickedness-"What's wrong with this or that?" If no rule restricts it, it must be okay. Law violates the heart of righteousness. There is no law against the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Those who walk by the Spirit don't ask, What's wrong with this? They ask How can I please the Lord and walk in love?
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