Why Rules are of Little or No Value ~ blog
When I went to seminary in 1975, I was a baby Christian. I had not been raised in a church. We attended chapels on the Naval Bases on which we lived. That was just playing church. We only met on Sunday and I was there for the donuts they served after the service. So, it was non-denominational.
But when I began attending a Baptist seminary and attending a Baptist church, I learned very quickly that there were rules…no more than rules. There were laws. No just the 10 Commandments but more and stricter laws like;
Do not Smoke, Drink, or Chew … or go with Girls that Do!
Now I have never “chewed” but I certainly had done my fair share of smoking and drinking and dated plenty of girls who did as well. I did not realize it but there were volumes of rules for Baptists most of which were unwritten, and I guess they were raised in homes where these laws were strictly enforced. However, just because these laws were in place did not mean they were followed and may have even encouraged the behavior.
I think that is because when someone labels something as “undesirable” it seems to have a “more desirable” draw to it. Yet, how many churches do you know or Christians you have met where they have these long lists of do’s and don’ts which seem to exasperate the problem instead of solving it?
Look at what Paul writes to the Colossians in 2:20-23;
“…why do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”
Those are some very interesting words and in fact, are somewhat shocking. Is Paul really saying that all these rules of the Christian life have the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion, self-abasement, and the severe treatment of the body?
“…but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.”
Yup, that is exactly what he said. And we know for a fact that it is true…right? I mean we probably grew up in a home where we were told that porn was sinful, and we should not look at it. Not a bad rule…but did having the rule help you at all to not look at porn? No, it probably did not. In fact, in making the rule do not look at porn only gave porn a more desirable quality to it.
We looked and even felt a little excitement that we were doing something we were not supposed to be doing. Saying something is off-limits only tends to shine a spotlight on it which increases its draw to us. Just like the “Wet paint…do not touch!” sign only makes you want to touch the paint to see if it is really wet.
So, why do these rules become completely ineffective at keeping us from indulging in the behavior? Now pay attention because this is important. Rules only tell us what we should or should not do but have no power in themselves to keep us from doing the forbidden behavior. Laws are just laws. Rules are just words and words do not keep us from doing what we are being told we should not do.
Rules are the line in the sand and that line has no power to stop me. In fact, that line only awakens the rebelliousness in my flesh that urges me to step over it. My pride and lust show up and become cheerleaders urging me to cross the line. I mean it is just a line and in and of itself has no power to stop me so I am going to step over it and show it that I am the boss and can do as I damn well please.
Paul is not saying that rules are completely worthless but that they have no power to stop us from indulging our fleshly desires.
Now there are two things that can help me not cross the line. First and foremost is the Holy Spirit. We are told that if we are walking in the Spirit, we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. Note that it is not having the Spirit that helps because we have had the Spirit since we were saved but it is walking in the Spirit. Allowing Him to lead us away from temptation. Asking Him to show us the way of escape and then taking it.
The second thing is being connected to a community of other men who are there to help you and pull you away from the temptation that seems to be having a growing and powerful pull on you to go back into your sin.
Rules are important but they have no power to stop you. Relationships are where we can find the strength that we do not have in and of ourselves. Being filled with and walking in the Spirit is the first step in not giving in to the desires of our flesh. Being connected to a team of other men who are helping one another is the second critical piece of recovery.
We have 13 Online Support Teams where you will receive the help and strength to not give in to your fleshly lusts and can be part of helping other men to do the same.