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How Do Rules Function In
The Christian Faith?

By

Neil Armstrong B.A., M.Div.



Several days ago someone asked me this very interesting question, "how do rules function in the Christian faith? This is an important question for several reasons. First, many people reject the Christian faith because they mistakenly believe there are a lot of rules. Second, this question gives an indication of the massive failure of the Christian Church to adequately communicate a coherent message. And third, there is an alarming backlash against Christianity, created in part by special interest groups, the media and political interests, as they try to further their agendas. One way they try to counter the influence of the Christian faith is to reduce it to a list of rules, then reject it as irrelevant.

How do they reduce the Christian faith to a list of rules? The most common approach is to turn to the Old Testament and point out archaic laws like those having to do with worship of idols, slavery, bodily discharges, defiling mold etc. The argument is made that since we obviously no longer see the need to keeping these rules, other moral imperatives based on Scripture are also irrelevant.

In response to this line of reasoning, Christians must make a clear distinction between the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament laws were given specifically to the nation of Israel, centuries before Christ! In the New Testament Jesus Christ fulfilled and "set aside" the laws of the Old Testament. "For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations." Ephesians 2:14-16 Jesus did this through his death on the cross. Because Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament, with it's laws and regulations, Christians now base their faith on the message of the Gospel in the New Testament.

The message of the Gospel in the New Testament is that now all the rules of the Old Testament are fulfilled through one thing, love. "For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14; "The commandments, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet, and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law." Romans 13:9-10 Love is the basis of the Christian faith, not laws and rules!

An important aspect of the Christian faith which is often overlooked is the Holy Spirit. A Christian lives by the Spirit of God who resides in the heart of each person who surrenders their life to Jesus Christ. The Christian faith is not a moral code which is imposed on everyone. It involves each individual making a personal choice to believe Jesus Christ and receiving the Spirit. Ironically, Paul's most impassioned warning has to do with Christians avoiding human rules and religious observances. Colossians 2:20-23 This warning is important because rules are the antithesis of the work of the Holy Spirit and the Christian faith.


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