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FAITH COLUMN: Why it’s important to know the rules

By: Clay Crum, pastor of First Baptist Church in Luverne

Just this week I was reminded of the necessity of knowing the rules. Earlier this week I pulled up to the south traffic light here in Luverne and stopped (because it was red and that is the rule). Straight across from me was a vehicle already stopped at the light. The other vehicle was turning left and I was going straight, when the light turned green I began to proceed through the light and so did the other vehicle.

What the vehicle didn’t realize is the rule is the vehicle that is going straight has the right of way. The good news is we both stopped and then I proceeded through the light without incident. But you can see the importance of knowing the rules. Life is the same way. We need to know the rules in order to avoid the possible tragedies that can occur if we don’t do things the right way.

Thankfully we can know the rules for life and avoid the pitfalls of our culture if we follow them. God’s word, the Bible, is our rulebook. It has been said that the Bible is the “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”. The problem is, we don’t take time to read the instructions, or we choose not to follow them.

The Bible is very clear on what the rules for living life are. Many people feel they are too restrictive and outdated, but the true principles for living life are never outdated and any restrictions are only for our benefit.

Not only does the Bible give us instruction on how to live life, it also gives us warnings about what causes us not to follow those instructions. Proverbs 14:12 reads, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end is the way of death.” The way that seems right may not be what is right!

For instance in my story, the person in the other vehicle thought it was right for her to go first possibly because she was first at the light or maybe because at traffic lights with a left turn signal the vehicles turning left usually go first. But the fact is though it seemed right it was dead wrong! And when you’re talking about spiritual decisions, dead wrong is exactly right.

The ways that seem right to man but are wrong to God lead to death! Eternal death! A mistake in the true understanding of traffic laws might get you a ticket, a broken car, broken bones or sometimes even death, but a mistake in understanding God’s truth about life leads to eternal death that is unchangeable.

You can’t just pay your fine and go about your business; you have to be forgiven before leaving earth to escape the eternal price for your breaking of God’s rules. This comes only through turning away from your way and turning to God’s way. God’s way is allowing Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of your life.

Why do we fail to follow God’s rules then if we know there are such great consequences for breaking them? One of the biggest reasons is we want to debate what God’s rules are. We don’t want to accept them for what they are.

Instead we try to make them fit what we want them to be. We live in a society where every rule is to be questioned, and every loophole to be avoided the rule is used. Our legal system has loopholes that allow people to do things that are ethically wrong but legally right.

For instance, if a person commits a terrible crime like murder and the murder weapon is found in his possession, but it was discovered without proper warrants and procedure, it may not be admissible in court and he may be released from the penalty of his crime. But the fact remains that he is guilty of the crime no matter what loophole may have allowed his release. There are no loopholes in God’s law.

He knows you are guilty and has a standing warrant to search your heart constantly. You can’t debate your way out or try to use some loophole to escape the due payment for your transgression. We do this all the time. We say “I know what the Bible says, but…” There are no buts after what God has said; that is the final answer. Our reasoning does not release us from the responsibility of our actions.

The other major problem is that people outright lie about what is and is not acceptable to God. They convince themselves and others that whatever they are doing is all right with God, even when God has specifically told us it is not. This is what Isaiah was referring to in chapter five verse 20 when he said, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil.” Evil is always evil and good is always good; it doesn’t matter how you try to twist it because God knows your heart.

We are about to celebrate Valentine’s Day in a couple of weeks. A day filled with all kinds of expressions of love. As we celebrate the loved ones in our life, let’s remember what real love looks like. True love doesn’t let us make terrible mistakes that will allow us to bring harm to ourselves. We would never allow our spouses, children or even our friends do something harmful to themselves without trying to stop them.

God loves us too much not to tell us the truth about life and our choices, and how it is going to hurt us. So let’s do ourselves a favor and learn the rules for living God has given us in His Word, and then, by the power of His spirit, live according to those rules.

The great news is when we just accept His rules as they are, He provides a great gift for us to enjoy. We get forgiven for breaking His rules and we get the benefits of Jesus’ righteousness. Try reading God’s life manual and see how great life can be when you follow the rules. He died for us; let’s live for Him!