Freeing the Rules

Psalm 119:153–168, Deuteronomy 6, Galatians 5:1–15

Rules and regulations. We often don’t like them. At the same time, there are many who are calling for more and more rules and regulations. People want to control people’s thoughts and their expressions of their thoughts. People want to control others’ behavior, but don’t want theirs controlled.

When Paul refers to the Law of the Jews (e.g., circumcision), there is a Jewish understanding that the Jews failed miserably to follow the Law perfectly. So, to do a better job of following the law that they couldn’t already follow, they added more laws.

The whys of rules and regulations should often be more the focus than the ual rules and regulations. When Moses talks about the whys, it is contained within Deuteronomy 6:4–6. “Listen, Israel: The LORD our , the LORD is one. Love the LORD your with all your , with all your soul, and with all your strength. These s that I am giving you today are to be in your .”

It’s not that breaking the rules wasn’t serious. It was. What was of primary importance was a with .

Note also what comes after that, teaching and guiding others into that same .

Then, and only then, do we get to the rules. Many Bibles have a heading before verse 10 to the effect of Remembering Through Obedience. So, the rules aren’t about the rules, they’re about . For Christians, the “rules” of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers are more like guidelines, good and healthy guidelines for s, but guidelines. They are for a time and place and context, which isn’t ours.

So, Christians create more rules. These rules are in many ways far worse than the rules of the Law. Many people use the “new” rules to condemn people to Hell, without knowing them. The rules are often used with and intimidation. That certainly isn’t the that Paul was talking about.

1) When you think of rules, what are your feelings? How do you feel when someone else breaks the rule? How about when you break the rules?

2) Why do you think the rules and ing are tied ? How does that affect the way you feel about rules?

3) We all set rules and s regarding the behavior of others. What do you do when someone violates them?

Pastor Ian

By Pastor Ian

Ian is an ordained Elder in The Church of the Nazarene, and is currently serving as the Online Campus Pastor at Generations Community Church in Marysville, WA, USA.