The Truth About Rule-Keeping: It Doesn’t Bring Life.



I was an obsessive-compulsive in bondage to rule-keeping– but freedom came through Christ.  People get this wrong all the time.  Christianity is not about what you do or don’t do– it’s about what Christ did.

Also from Galatians 3, emphasis mine:

And that means that anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure. Scripture backs this up: “Utterly cursed is every person who fails to carry out every detail written in the Book of the law.”

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.”

And from Galatians 5:

Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.

I am emphatic about this. The moment any one of you submits to circumcision* or any other rule-keeping system, at that same moment Christ’s hard-won gift of freedom is squandered. I repeat my warning: The person who accepts the ways of circumcision trades all the advantages of the free life in Christ for the obligations of the slave life of the law.

I suspect you would never intend this, but this is what happens. When you attempt to live by your own religious plans and projects, you are cut off from Christ, you fall out of grace. Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.

Rule-keeping is impossible, and so many obsessive-compulsives know that– but can’t seem to quit trying.  Grace is the name of the game now, not laws.

*For those of you unfamiliar with the way the author is using this, he is referring to it as a rule-keeping, religious obligation.

4 thoughts on “The Truth About Rule-Keeping: It Doesn’t Bring Life.

  1. Exactly what I needed to read, since I get worries about being “perfect” even in that sense. Thanks Jackie! 🙂

  2. Funny how as OCer’s we can know these truths so well in our hearts but our minds will take it away from us… Or on the other hand we might know it extremely well in our heads, but not have it in our hearts. My most recent obsessions have been if I am trying to please God, which leads to me not tryin to, but still trying to read my bible, pray, and so on which my mind tells me I am trying to please God and so on… But at the end of the day and life the only thing that truly matters is what He did and that is something both my heart and head can agree on. Which is why when I am here and present in the body I may have these doubts and worries but in all realty one day I will be sitting with the king of eternal glory. So unworthy, but so loved.

  3. Pingback: Noticing the Mess | Lights All Around

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