Why Rules Can’t Change Hearts

Why Rules Can’t Change Hearts

I stood in the middle of the park, taking in the fresh air and glancing at the bench that was calling for me to take a rest on it. I was tired. I had just been walking around and the sun was beating down on me.

 

And then I saw it.

 

That ugly, menacing, obnoxious sign that warned, “WET PAINT. DO NOT TOUCH BENCH.” What was I, an obedient dog? That sign couldn’t tell me what to do. So I took it as a challenge. “I’ll show it who’s in charge,” I thought to myself. And so, I decided to touch it.

 

Of course I did.

 

I don’t remember whether the paint on the bench had dried or not, but as soon as I touched it, I was immediately made aware of the fact that I had disobeyed the sign. Of course I didn’t commit a criminal offense, but I knew I hadn’t done what the “rule” had ordered me to. And thinking back on that experience has given me a new perspective on some things.

 

Rules don’t change hearts.

 

Mom says don’t eat the cookie, and what do I do? Eat the cookie.

 

So-and-so says don’t go here, do this, say that, and what do I do? I go there. I do that. I say whatever it is I’m not supposed to say. Because you know what? Having a list of do’s and don’ts doesn’t change my heart, it makes whatever I’m not supposed to do seem so much more appealing.

 

Now, this may seem messed up. And it is. We’re obviously not supposed to sin, it’s wrong and all that, but it just-so-happens to be in our nature.

 

Romans 5:12-13

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.”

 

Adam sinned and passed that sinful nature onto us. From the day we’re born, we’re doomed to have the instinct to do that thing, the selfish thing, the disobedient thing, the thing that puts us first, that thing that elevates us to think we can conquer life on our own.

 

And even if we feel that pang of guilt when we do what we know isn’t right or good, we tend to ignore it and do it anyway. Even the “good people” do, because it’s not something we can control by ourselves.

 

We are dead in our sins on our own.

 

Ephesians 2:1-8

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

 

I know that’s a very long and dense passage, but it’s so important.

 

We were dead in our sins, chained to a life of immorality and evil. But because of God’s grace for us, He gave us life.

 

The difference between death and life isn’t just the difference between going to either Heaven or Hell someday. As much as that’s definitely part of it, it’s not all.

 

The difference between death and life is the difference between being controlled by the sin nature or being controlled by the Holy Spirit.

 

People have a misconception that when you’re a Christian, you try to live a decent life, be a good person, and be kind to everyone. That it’s all about trying harder. That if we mess up it’s because we did something really wrong, so we just brush ourselves off and try “harder” next time.

 

But that can be just as futile as is trying to live a perfect life while we’re still entrenched in sin. Trying to impose rules does one thing: shows us that we cannot be perfect.

 

Look at this verse.

 

Romans 3:20

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

 

The Ten Commandments were given to us to show us that we needed a Savior, not to force us to be moral people in order to earn salvation. We’ve already established in Ephesians 2 that grace is a gift, and has nothing to do with our trying to earn it.

 

In our recognizing our need for a Savior, in accepting that amazing and undeserved grace of God that FORGIVES US and removes our sin for us, we are made blameless in His sight. We are given the Holy Spirit inside of us to overcome our sinful nature and make us new.

 

2 Corinthians 5:17

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

 

Romans 5:17

“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”

 

The law showed us our sin and revealed to us that we needed someone to keep the law for us – namely, Jesus. He didn’t just keep it, but He gave up His life as a sacrifice.

 

Hebrews 9:22

“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”

 

I’m not advocating disobedience to the law here. I’m really not. I’m not saying we can do whatever we want and it doesn’t matter because we’re forgiven.

 

Galatians 5:1

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

 

We’re free, and by knowing this, we should not want to waltz back into what we’ve been saved from. We don’t need to “just work harder” at being a “good person,” we need to submit to the Holy Spirit working in our lives. In this way, we throw away slavery and embrace our amazing freedom.

 

Making rules doesn’t change hearts. The Holy Spirit does. Live in your freedom!

 

*aj

Rebel is Not a Synonym For Teenager.

Spring Flowers

Rebel is not a synonym for teenager.

I’m fifTEEN years old. A teenager. But I’m no rebel.

(Okay, so maybe I do occasionally enter through the EXIT at Walmart. But that is beside the point.)

Just because I’m between the ages of thirteen and nineteen, doesn’t mean I disagree with my parents every chance I get, try hard to do the opposite of whatever wise people tell me to, or compromise the beliefs that I grew up holding fast to.

Society would tell people like me me, “You, girl, are insane. Live a little. You are young and free. Party all you want. For this fleeting moment, life is all about fun, of course. Don’t heed advice, all those old folks have no idea what they’re talking about. Experience life for yourself. Make your own choices. Be free to ‘be yourself.’ And you’ll be happy.”

Um, no, actually. I’ll keep my head square on my shoulders, thank you very much.

Not only is this view unwise, but it leads to trouble. And frankly, I have no desire to live wastefully.

But you, reader, may be thinking, “Why is she so different?” Well, I’m glad you ask.

My Faith Is My Own.

I made a decision at a young age to become a Christian. As Jonathan Edwards once said, “Resolved I will live for God. And if no one else does, I still will.” I don’t live for God because my parents force me to, or because an author wrote it in a book that I should. This is my own choice, and no matter how hard I am pulled, I will not be torn away from my foundation that I have built my life upon. The Lord has revealed Himself to me, and I can not deny it. I will not compromise because I am pressured to. I will hold firm because I know the Truth, and it has set me free.

By Obeying Authority, I Am Obeying God.

It’s already been established that my faith is my own. I’m not a brainwashed religious freak. I have fallen in love with my Savior. The authority that humans rebel against is much bigger than parents, or the police, or even the President. If I am to disobey anyone in authority (unless it goes against the Bible), I am disobeying God.

Ouch.

Ephesians 6:1

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”

If God says to do something, and I do not do it, then not only am I showing disrespect to those whom I am not heeding, but I’m deliberately rebelling against the Creator of the universe, who also happens to be my Heavenly Father.

Double ouch.

Romans 12:2

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

When I do not conform to the patterns to just about every other teen on the planet, I am being obedient to God. And by doing this, I can discern His will. Is that not awesome?

The Teen Years Are Preparation For The Rest Of My Life.

Right now, I am getting ready to live the rest of my life. If I want to live wisely in ten years, how will that happen if I do not live wisely right here and now?

I’m not going to waste these precious seven years so that I can have temporary (and harmful) fun now. What’s the point?

And seriously. How many adults actually look back on their high school and college years and say, “I am so glad that I partied, did just what I wanted to, and ignored my parents because I knew better than them. It really helped me in the life that was ahead of me.”

Seriously? We are smarter than this.

I’m Not A Child Anymore, Even Though I’m Still Not An Adult.

It doesn’t make any logical sense to behave recklessly like a child and yet demand to be treated like an adult. By doing this, we prove to the world that we are immature and not ready for actual responsibility.

When I was five years old, my parents sat down with me and we had a talk. The main point was, “With age comes responsibility.” (This meant that I had to start emptying the dishwasher every day before I could watch Caillou.) If, for instance, I were to refuse to accept my responsibility, I would not prove to be mature enough for more privileges. The older I became, the more responsibility I was given, and in turn, the more freedom I was given.

Come on, guys. We can act like adults (in the way that we accept responsibility) and so prove that we are ready to be adults. If we act like foolish children, we won’t be ready for everything that life throws our way. So let’s “man up” (or “woman up,” if you prefer) and be wise. I’m not an adult yet, but that doesn’t mean I can start preparing to be one.

Yes, I am a teenager. But I’m not a rebel.

I never had the place to be rebellious anyway. So Why should I? Where is the real and true benefit?

God gave us authorities for the reason of keeping order in this world, for He knew that we all have a sin nature that wants to run rampant inside of us. But as a Christian teenager, I give no authority to my sin.

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I do not live for my rebellious self anymore, but for my Savior.

And I do not let “rebel” be a synonym for “teenager”.

Note to Parents:

I’m not a parent, so I cannot guarantee to you that your kid is going to obey you or listen to you. But as for me, I have made my faith my own. I desire to heed authority, for I know it is good. Not because Mom and Dad forced me to follow a set list of dos and don’ts, but because my relationship with my Savior is the most important thing in the world to me. It’s my own choice. And it is the best choice I’ve ever made.

*aj

A Poem: The Song of Mankind (As Told By Eve)

  

Happy Tuesday, world! I hope you’re having a wonderful day. Now, I’m not feeling very well today and I don’t have the energy to write a full post, but I still did not want to leave y’all in a lurch waiting for a Tuesday post. So without further ado, here is a poem I wrote from the point of view of Eve and the rest of mankind after. Enjoy!

The Song of Mankind (As Told By Eve)
It all started in the garden
Oh, I was so naïve
Everything so beautiful 
Everything to believe 
That serpent started talking
Oh, he seemed so kind
Talking about that fruit
He seemed to read my mind
Before I knew it 
I bit in
I disobeyed God
I understood sin
I cursed mankind 
I caused the fall
Destroyed perfection
Brought sin to all
But God told of a savior
One who was to come
To forgive me and everyone
By pouring out His love
Mankind rejected Him
But even still He came
To conquer death, sin, and the grave
Though not deserved, He took my blame
He forgave all sin
And we’re all free
No more lies
He rescued me!
*aj
%d bloggers like this: