No Rules…Just Righteousness!
The church is a complex organism, like the human body. There is far too much going on for Christians to play act, as if they are the Holy Spirit, who is the only agent of Christian sanctification (1 Thess 4:3; 1 Pet 1:2).
Instead of submitting to the church’s one leader (Mt 23:10), the Lord Jesus Christ, and trusting Him by faith, there is a fear in Christian men, who need to control other Christians. The apostles, Peter and John, were troubled in their relationship, by this penchant for controlling behavior in others. Later, Paul tried to blackball John Mark for his failed performance. John the Baptist and the first martyr, Stephen, both seemed to operate outside the box of today’s mild-mannered, politically correct, church behavior pattern.
What is correct Christian behavior? The Bible informs us in an organic way, for what Christian behavior looks like, but when each behavior is isolated, as a “thou shalt not,” the church enters a danger zone. It is especially dangerous when the enforcers of behavior create documents for Christians to sign.
The all-but-defunct ministry of Promise Keepers demonstrates Christian confusion regarding sanctification. Preach the Word and teach the Word are aided by some card that says, “I promise to never do anything wrong.” The same is true for “church covenant” documents, “I swear on my church membership to be true to all the things required of me in this man-made document, designed to control my behavior.” Signed, John “Habitual Offender” Doe (pronounced “D’oh”, as in, “D’oh, I did it again!).
Legislating behavior, and then trying to enforce the legislated behavior, did not work in the Old Testament for the Israelites. What makes us think that more rules of right behavior is part of our salvation, today? It is not. Read Galatians.
The Law is holy, right, good, fulfilled, and a helpful guide to show us how far short, we are in practice, of the glory of God. He is holy, and we are not. His holiness requires our holiness, but rules cannot make one holy. Compliance to the Law is a false gospel. Christian rule makers will always find something in the Bible that will inspire them to control people under the guise of “Leadership.” These little lords love to lord it over others, in the name of Christian duty and responsibility, “I am from the Temple police, and I am here to help!”
Is God not able and willing to sanctify His people in each person’s area of deficiency? Compliance to a set of rules is not a life of faith controlled by grace (2 Cor 5:7; Eph 2:8–9). The life, under grace, is the Spirt-led life (Gal 5:16, 25), where the Holy Spirit employs the Word, preached and taught, to have its powerful effect, “Sanctify them with Thy truth, Thy Word is truth,” is how Jesus handled it (Jn 17:17).
Christian beware of the misuse of rules, and even God’s Law, as an agent of your sanctification. God has established the Law (Ex 20; Dt 5). You have not kept the Law. Your failure has driven you to the foot of the cross, where you have made your home. From your permanent abode, at the base of Calvary’s tree, you keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith (Heb 12:2). The faith by which you are justified before the Judge of the whole earth (Gen 18:25). He Himself is the Word that sanctifies you and brings you into conformity to His perfect compliance (Ezek 36:27; Rom 8:29). By the way, perfect compliance is called, “glory,” the time in eternity in which you will be holy as He is holy…forever.
Do not fall prey to those who would show you the Law, and then demand your signature as a testimony of your promised compliance to their contrived rule-keeping methods. They are enforcers of another gospel. Remember, your life is not your own (1 Cor 3:23). Christ possesses you, evidenced by His indwelling Spirit of grace (Rom 8:9, 11), and your singular Christian task is to live by faith (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 2:20; Gal 3:11–12; Heb 10:38), in that, He is willing and doing His good pleasure in you (Phil 2:13). This is how you work out your salvation (Phil 2:12). Trust Christ, who is accomplishing what concerns you (Ps 57:2; 138:8).
Christ is our righteousness (permanent right standing before God), and Christ is your life (Gal 2:20). Only trust that He who began this good work in you, will bring it to perfect completion (Phil 1:6). He is God. He is at work. He has made His promise to you. He will not fail. Rest in the Lord, and rest assured your signature on some man-made, concocted covenant is meaningless. No rules! Just Christ, our Lord, the Lord of righteousness…the righteousness in which stand, now and forever!
Spokane Valley, Washington
September 14, 2021