Friday, December 11, 2015

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The Bible: Only a Bunch of Rules, and Do’s and Don’ts?

          I hadn’t taken the time to draw near to the Lord and enjoy being in His presence for several days.  I’m not going to give any reasons, for they would be mere excuses.  I didn’t sleep much again last night and was feeling weary this morning.  Even so, I shrugged off the inclination to just lie there in hopes that somehow I might be able to drift off into a deep sleep.  I felt Him calling and beckoning me to meet with Him, as though He was saying, “Come on Ginger.  Haven’t you missed our time together even just a little bit?  I won’t keep you long if you don’t want me to.”  I pulled myself out of bed and went to our special meeting place – my recliner.  Picking up my Bible, I ran my hands across it before opening it, as if I might be able to touch the very hand of God just by being close to His precious word.  All of God’s word is more precious than silver and gold, but I confess that the Psalms and Proverbs hold a place of special affection within my heart.  I turned to Proverbs 2 and began to read once again from His instructions about how to live life according to His precepts, seeking His wisdom and knowledge, that I might understand more fully the vital importance of understanding and walking in the fear of the Lord.
          As I read, words which I have often heard spoken by those who have not yet learned to love God or His word, popped into my mind: “The Bible, what good is it?  Who wants to have anything to do with something that is nothing more than a useless list of do’s and don’ts?”  This expression is often used by scoffers, as if the speaking of them was a rational reason to look upon God’s word as no more than words written by mere men, or as useless garbage that should easily be discarded and thrown into the nearest trash can.  It would always make me bristle to my very core and want to respond, in a not so Christian way, by telling them what absolute idiots they were.  Over the years, I hope I have learned a bit more about the importance of not speaking every thought that comes into my mind.
          At any rate, after reading a couple of chapters, and enjoying every minute of “tasting” the goodness of the Lord and His word, I began to contemplate upon the idea of the word being merely a list of do’s and don’ts.  Instead of just wanting to discard it as the rationalization of any unbeliever for ignoring God and His word, I asked myself to consider the possible influence of that assumption, even in such limited boudaries?  Understanding that an unbeliever is not going to have any idea of the person and role of the Holy Spirit, who guides every believer into the understanding of the wisdom and knowledge of God, I began to consider the statement itself and question, “Ok, what if the word was only a ‘list of do’s and don’ts?”  Of course, I don’t believe that.  But just for the moment, I was willing to explore the idea to decide for myself, if that’s all it was, would or could that list, or standards and requirements, still have worth or value in shaping and changing a life for the better?  Does God’s standards of right and wrong, when activated and practiced in one’s life serve to produce to improvement within the person and in the person’s actions and behavior towards others?  To begin with, I considered just the Ten Commandments and the possibility of their consequences in a person’s life.  If someone read them and tried their best to apply them in their life on a consistent basis, even if they did not believe in the One who was the author of them, would they be an instrument to work for good or for bad in life?  I compared their possible effect with a similar effect of being able to understand the law of gravity and its application in life.  If I were to ignore the law of gravity by deciding to walk off the edge of a cliff, would the truth of the law become null and void and of no effect?  Would my choice of not believing in the law stop me from falling to my death? Of course not!  The law of gravity is true, and it’s going to work whether I choose to believe in it or not.  Applying that law and acknowledging its truth can only serve to protect me and make my life safer, and even longer.  So it is with God and His word.  I could personally choose not to believe in God or His word, but that is never going to have the effect of changing or diminishing the truth of His word; it only means that I will have robbed myself of the transforming power of His word in my life.
          God’s do’s and don’ts are meant for my good, not for my harm.  The fact that I may choose not to believe or apply His word, in the living of my life, can only serve to block God from helping me to live out His purpose for my life.  I can think of only one reason why anyone would want to ignore God and His word, and that is because His directions may tend to get in the way, making His way inconvenient for us, if what we desire is to go against them, preferring to go our own way, to live a life that is self directed instead of God directed.  Man, in his natural fallen state, is full of pride, and therefore finds it much more appealing to deny Christ as Savior and Lord, and deny His right to have authority over and in our lives.  It isn’t really that the unbeliever doesn’t live by a set of rules, standards, or do’s and don’ts.  The problem is that he wants to retain for himself the right to be the only one having the authority to make up those rules to suit his own desires at any given time and place.  As the song “I Did It My Way” says, man wants to follow his own path and not be “restricted” or “constrained” by anything or anyone else; thereby, exalting himself to the position of the only god in his life.  It’s easy not to have to accept responsibility for your own actions, good or bad, if you have no one above yourself to hold you accountable. 

          Sad to say, in rejecting God and His authority, we also are choosing to divest ourselves of all His many blessings that His Holy Spirit would gladly pour out into our lives, blessings of peace, love, joy, hope, and yes, forgiveness of sin and eternal salvation, given freely by the grace and mercy of God who has loved us first.  So, in reality, it’s not the do’s and don’ts that really bothers us, it’s the fact that they are established as absolutes by someone else other than ourselves, and they are not relative, up for debate, or changeable to suit our own desires.  To top it all off, the scriptures, or do’s and don’ts as some have called them,  point to God as the only one who has the authority to decide what sin is or is not, and we don’t like to acknowledge God’s right to have authority over our lives.  We prefer to think that there are many paths to God, because we think that by so doing, we can then choose any path that suits us, and ignore the words of Jesus: “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father except by me.” (John 14: 6)  “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word that ye hear is not mine , but the Father’s which sent me.  These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.  But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14: 23 – 26)  That’s plain, clear, and does not depend upon your own personal opinion or private interpretation.  It’s not the gospel according to Ginger; it’s the gospel according to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  Put not your trust in your own works, but repent, ask for forgiveness, and trust in the works of Jesus Christ, who was crucified, resurrected from the dead, and ascended unto heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  Believe and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and you shall be saved by the mercy and grace of God.


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