What gives you the right to tell me how to live my life? Why are there so many rules?
Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – May 19th, 2019
- This morning we are dealing with the objection people level against the Bible and Christianity that it is restrictive, a killjoy and a moral strait jacket that limits freedom and fun. They also say that it “oppresses” those that are outside the group and treats them like second class citizens. Who do we think we are telling other people how they are to live their lives? Perhaps you have heard things like this yourself. How are we to respond? Let’s take a look at a number of things.
The basis of authority
- First, God has all authority on heaven and earth because He is the creator.
Col 1:16-18 ESV
For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
- All things were created through Him – which means that because God created all things – all things are His and He can do whatever He wants with them. God is the standard and His will is final. He is the one that gets to choose the rules, He is the one who defines what is good and what is evil.
- All things were created for Him – everything exists for Him. God is the point. This means all things are put together and hold together because of Him – which gives Him ownership and authority.
- Also, we are all going to give account to Him for what is done in the body.
Heb 4:13 ESV
And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
2 Cor 5:10 ESV
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
- Firstly, our standards of what is right and wrong come from what is authoritatively given to us by the one with all authority and from the one to whom we must give an account. So, the authority we have in declaring what is good and what is evil does not stem from us but from God Himself.
- Secondly, we as fellow humans have very little authority, and the authority we do have stems from God. We can “force” people to do what we tell them to do (like our children) and perhaps others. And they may do it for a time. But ultimately God wants people to follow His will because they decide for themselves if that is what they want to do.
- God never forces anyone to follow His will. He guides us, He directs us, He warns us, He rewards us, He teaches us, He shows us, He asks us, He invites us, and He reasons with us, but He never forces us. He lets us make decisions and we are free to do so. As Christians, we cannot make decisions for others but only for ourselves, and instruct, model, teach, and plead with others in the counsel and thoughts of God. We can also pray for them!
Christianity does not have many rules
- Here is the baseline instruction in Christianity:
Matt 22:37-40 ESV
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
- God is the one who defines what the rules are, and His rules are based on love: loving God with everything we are and loving others as ourselves. He gets to define what love is and if we love Him, we will obey Him.
John 15:10-14 ESV
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
- The proof that we indeed love God is that we obey what He commands. That we would love and honor Him first over all things and all others. That we would follow Him, and worship Him and Obey Him. And if we love God then we will also love other people.
1 John 4:20-21 ESV
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
- There is no such creature that truly loves God and hates his brother. Someone who says this and then hates other people is a liar. If we love other people, we will follow the commandments of not lying, cheating, stealing or using other for our own advantage, etc.
- We, as Christians, must make sure the lifestyle choices we make are based in the word of God. We must not become liberal and say less then what the word says, or become legalistic and say more that what it says.
Every group and organization has rules
- Every political party has things that they support. In order be identified and belong to that group you are to support the same things. Every social group has a set of standards you must participate with in order to be a member (chess club). Every fan club has a set of beliefs and practices you must have in order to be a part of that group (Cubs fans). Every religion has a set of beliefs and practices you must follow to belong (atheist group), etc.
- So, saying that Christianity has too many rules is not correct. Saying that it has rules is not a condemnation but a condition that all groups have as well.
The rules and standards of Christianity are good, healthy and beneficial
- Foundationally, in Christianity, you get into the group not on the basis of what you have done, but on the basis of what someone else has done for you.
Eph 2:8-9 ESV
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
- We do not earn the right be a Christian by anything we have done. We become a Christian because of what Christ has done on our behalf, and by receiving His invitation to be in Him by believing in Him, who He is and what He did. So, we don’t follow the rules to be a Christian, however, we follow the rules because we ARE a Christian. Traditional religion says, “If I obey the rules, then God accepts me.”Christianity says, “Because I believe in Christ who has done everything for me, and because He has died in my place, I am accepted — and therefore I obey the rules.” For Christians the rules are not at the center – Christ is the center. We follow the rules because we love Him and want to honor Him. We do so because we trust His heart for us and His plan for us that it is good, healthy and beneficial.
Eph 2:10 ESV
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
- We have been formed, fashioned and designed intentionally by God. He created us the way we are so that we can do the good works He has specifically prepared for us to do. Form determines function and if we walk in His will and according to His plan, we will thrive. In order for us to fully thrive and to truly be free, we must have rules. Ill. of a fish, plants, tooth brush vs. a grill brush, and humans. God gives us rules and boundaries for our good, and for us to thrive. Outside those bounds are pain, hurt and destruction.
John 10:10 ESV
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
- The thief – the one who temps and entices us to follow Him – does so to harm us. The path of sin, even though it promises life and liberty, leads to loss, suffering and destruction. The life that God offers us in Christ is a life where we will thrive.
Prov 16:25 NIV
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
- Are you going to trust yourself with your limits and understanding as to what is right, or are you going to trust God who is unlimited and has all wisdom to follow what He says is right? His plans for you are good.
Jer 29:11 ESV
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
- God has the authority to set His own rules because He created us and knows what is best for us. We as Christians are part of His family because of what He has done for us. Because we are part of the family, we follow the rules that He has set for us knowing that what He says is the best.
- Each one of us has a choice to make in first, accepting His invitation to be in Him, and second, choosing to follow Him. For to be in Him is to follow Him.
Deut 30:19-20 ESV
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
- Renew again your resolve to follow and serve Him. Choose to live according to His way, because His way is truly best, right and true.