Rules and Religion

Yes, this is another repost. But it ties in so well with my other repost, “Dying by Morality,” that I couldn’t leave it out. Also written in 2009.


While I was sitting quietly in church today, our pastor threw out a couple sentences that caught my attention. He said, “There is something wrong with our natural priorities. Sin is not the problem. Our broken relationship with God is the problem.”


Almost anyone will tell you that Jesus came to save us from our sins. Actually, Jesus came to fix our broken relationship with the Father, and He did that by saving us from our sins. It was a means to an end.

As Christians we become so focused on not sinning, on living a moral lifestyle, and we stray from the purpose of it all. Being a Christ-follower is not just about staying away from addictions, not sleeping around, or doing the ‘right’ thing. These are an outworking, the fruits of a healthy relationship with God.

We’ve become a religion of “don’t.” Don’t use bad language, don’t listen to that music, don’t watch those kinds of movies, don’t wear those kinds of clothes. Since when did those things ever rank high on Jesus’ list?

Does God care about sin? Definitely. God is holy and therefore sin disgusts him. However, Jesus didn’t walk around criticizing all the lawlessness.

The story of the Samaritan woman is a perfect example. Most of us are familiar with this story, in which we learn that the Samaritan woman had five husbands and is now living with a man she is not married to. However, that is not the first thing Jesus mentions.

He asks for a drink of water, and uses that to lead into a conversation saying, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water” (John 4:10).

Later on Jesus asks questions that lead the woman to admit to her immoral life, yet even then, he leaves it at fact. He does not condemn but says, “You certainly spoke the truth.”

The prostitute who poured perfume on Jesus’ feet didn’t hear Him say, “Put on some more clothes you immodest woman.”

Jesus didn’t walk around throwing out rules and enforcing them. He told people, “Follow me. I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Paul nails it in Galatians 3:1-3, “…For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?”

Having been saved by grace through a relationship with Jesus Christ, now we turn our focus back to the law?? I am by no means decrying the value of moral living; however, it did not save us nor ever will.

Ever heard someone throw out one of these lines? “I don’t know how she can live that way.” “He needs to straighten out his life.” “She has such an immoral lifestyle.”

They’re missing the point. There is no reason they would not live that way. Why would I even start trying to address a behavior problem when I haven’t even got to the root of the problem?

Our non-Christian friends and acquaintances may be exhibiting the sinful behaviors described by the scriptures: “sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties.”

Of course they are! They are driven by the desires of their sinful nature, they are LOST, they do not have a relationship with their Creator. Paul sums it up at the end of Galations, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves…those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed their passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.”

Imagine what the Christian fellowship would be like if we focused all our energy into getting to know God through prayer and through the Scriptures. It gets me excited. It gives me hope! I don’t have to sit in a pit of guilt over what I am or am not doing. This God, my God, has freed me from certain death in the confines of the law given to Moses, and I would like to get to know this God.

So let me extend that invitation to everyone I know—come, let’s drink the living water, and get to know our Father.


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