In my early days of walking with the Lord I became very good at observing and following rules. I observed all of the Christian things to do and say and followed all of the rules. I learned them all and made sure that I didn’t break them. I was able to spout them off to others when needed. I never failed to notice just who was breaking certain rules. The whole problem with memorizing rules, following rules, and forcing others to obey rules before God has brought them to that place of obedience is that the heart isn’t in it. The problem was that I had gone from being an unbeliever straight to being a Pharisee.
First of all, none of us can match up to the law and be saved on our own which is why Christ died, and with Him the bondage of the law. Secondly, without a surrendered heart all of the Christian acts and service in the world are meaningless.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
So basically, service, acts and deeds without love are worthless. Just going through the motions of following rules without true heart transformation is completely meaningless.
I recently listened to an online sermon from Greg Boyd discussing life principles and rules. Greg noted that Jesus was a rule breaker at times. That He would break rules in order to carry out life principles (such as love, mercy, justice and grace). The Pharisees were so hung up on the rules that they got mad when He broke them, and they couldn’t see the greater good of the life principle being carried out (people being saved) even through a rule was broken (someone was healed on a Sabbath).
Greg argued that the rules are there to apply life principles but there’s no life found in the rules themselves. Therefore when the rules inhibit a life principle being carried out we may need to break or bend them just as our Savior did. We need to focus on the life principles and not get caught up and tied up in the details of rules. He said we should be inflexible with life principles and flexible with rules.
I think at times it can be a tendency for me to get caught up in rules. My personality is naturally a rule follower. Jeremy and I laugh that I won't even open an umbrella in a house because somewhere, years ago, someone told me there was a rule against it. Fortunately my husband is somewhat of a rebel, and questions things and is teaching me to think for myself more and question the rules that I've always followed blindly. Whether you be a rebel or a rule follower, that not yielded to God and His glory will cause trouble either way. Either one of those traits in the flesh does not portray Christ, and either one of those surrendered to our King can and will bring glory to Him.