There are some who have no understanding to hear the truth of freedom and insist upon their goodness as means for salvation. These people you must resist, do the very opposite, and offend them boldly lest by their impious views they drag many with them into error. For the sake of liberty of the faith do other things which they regarded as the greatest of sins… use your freedom constantly and consistently in the sight of and despite the tyrants and stubborn so that they may learn that they are impious, that their law and works are of no avail for righteousness, and that they had no right to set them up.    

-Martin Luther

 

Some of you must to be shaking your heads and saying by now—Come on Ken, there has to be some rules, you are giving people the idea that they can live any way they choose and still be a Christian.

I have said nothing of the sort.  I will concede—the gospel of grace is abused—but we don’t pull the medicine off the shelves just because some would use it recklessly.  What I have said is that we want rules instead of relationship.  We like religion over Jesus.  We’ll take self-serving outward religious fashion shows  over inward and uncomfortable revivals.    It’s much more difficult to be genuine than it is to be religious.  And it’s much more advantageous when it comes to our fragile and attention-starved egos to follow a man-made code than to follow the Son of the Living God.  Let’s face it—we want people to pat us on the back when it comes to our being so religious, so giving, or even so Christlike—we’ll trade the freedom that’s ours for an ata-boy not even thinking a split second about what we are giving up to get the small worthless token.

 11-12 The obvious impossibility of carrying out such a moral program should make it plain that no one can sustain a relationship with God that way. The person who lives in right relationship with God does it by embracing what God arranges for him. Doing things for God is the opposite of entering into what God does for you. Habakkuk had it right: “The person who believes God, is set right by God—and that’s the real life.” Rule-keeping does not naturally evolve into living by faith, but only perpetuates itself in more and more rule-keeping, a fact observed in Scripture: “The one who does these things [rule-keeping] continues to live by them.”

13a Christ redeemed us from that self-defeating, cursed life by absorbing it completely into himself.    (Galatians 3:11-13a, The Message Bible)

God understands something that we just can’t seem to get through our thick skulls: A heart set free doesn’t need rules any longer.  If you want the unadulterated-unfiltered-cold-hard truth—our hearts never needed rules to begin with.  Our hearts were plenty lost without any help.  Rules or no rules, we were wretched without Jesus. 

You see, a heart set free wants to follow Jesus—it doesn’t need seventy-five rules about how to do anything.  Rules got us no where before Jesus and I can’t understand what on earth makes us think they will post-Jesus.  Seriously—it’s like learning where to get a spectacular gourmet meal and then returning to the place we were paying the same money to get a maggot covered plate of slop—as if we never found the new restaurant.  Maddening behavior really. 

What possesses us to return to rules and religion when we have Jesus? 

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