I read this and wanted to re-post it here, because it tied in perfectly to what the sermon was about last Sunday. In the Our Journey devotional, Pastor James has been talking about change, and wrong ways to go about it. Read on! (And if you missed the sermon from last Sunday, listen to it from our sermons links: "Anti-Bullying Campaign".)
One of the persistent faulty plans for change among Christians is the idea of change by the rules. Change by unbending, merciless, military following of orders. Picture the drill sergeant barking out orders right in the face of the recruit. Well that’s the way a lot of churches are. This is the kind of church I grew up in: change by the power of the rules. This is not a new problem for the church of Jesus Christ—it shows up already among Christians in the New Testament.
Change by rules means strict adherence to a list of some kind. Keep the list and you will change. And don’t overlook the importance of making sure others are keeping the list too. Life becomes a daily nightmare of tracking rules and desperately trying to compensate or cover-up for the rules we’ve broken. That’s Christianity? A bunch of rules? Really!?!
I’m a Christian. I don’t do these five things. You know, the Filthy Five, the Dirty Dozen. Whatever they are; it depends on how fired up your church was. But there’s a list. Rules! Rules! Rules! The problem with that, as Romans 6-8 makes abundantly clear is that it reduces God’s work of life-change to a heart-hardening, mind-numbing, soul-stifling not-so-merry-go-round of effort and disappointment.
Read again the passage above from Romans 7 and note how the rules inflame your desire to sin. Legalism just makes you want to sin. Sin has power; rules have no power. Rules bring sin to the surface. I don’t want us to be a church like that. God hasn’t offered us a life like that! Some of us need to get off the rule-keeping treadmill and leave it behind. Otherwise, we will never change!
p.s. - not certain who Nuff is, but he gets credited with a lot