The Temptation to Make a Rule Where God Did Not
This article was originally published as a part of the series titled “Just A Thought”
Frankly, I do understand why good Christians want to make rules of conduct for clothing, hair, body piercings, movies, music, language, drinking, smoking, dancing, and other elements of popular culture. The problem, though, is to make a rule of conduct where Jesus does not.
We regularly hear from people whose faith has been shattered by legalism and moralism. They were convinced they had to do something to be good enough to merit God’s grace-they had to be a good boy. Salvation was free, but now they have to prove God didn’t make a mistake. “Saved by grace, sanctified by works.” Unfortunately, this may clean up a person’s behavior for a while, but it is not Christianity.
Jesus did not preach behavior modification; he preached heart transformation. The gospel is “saved by grace, sanctified by grace.”
Here is a small idea worth remembering: Do not allow what God prohibits, and do not prohibit what God allows. To allow what God prohibits is to be licentious. To prohibit what God allows is to be legalistic. The Bible teaches liberty in Christ, which leads to Spirit-led obedience.
Be careful not to turn a personal preference into a requirement, a tradition into a theology, or a possible interpretation of Scripture into a necessary interpretation of Scripture.
I want a moral awakening in America as much as anyone, but I want it through the gospel of grace, not law.
© 2002 Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved. This article may be reproduced for any non-commercial use with proper attribution.