Greg Tutwiler asked:
In the movie, Legends Of The Fall, there’s a line toward the end of the movie that struck me like no other. The oldest brother, Alfred, and the middle son Tristen are at the grave site of Alfred’s, wife who had just committed suicide. Tristen is a free-spirited guy who grabbed life by the tail and road it bravely. He was truly free. Alfred “fit” himself into the world’s molds and trappings, eventually becoming a politician, much to his fathers disappointment. Adam looked at Tristen with tears in his eyes and said, “I followed all the rules; man’s rules, and God’s rules. Yet, they all loved you more, including my own wife.” We’re all drawn to life. We all want freedom. We were born that way.
The central theme of Jesus’ message is, no more rules. It doesn’t work! I can see it printed on that great white flag of His now. The Israelites, God’s own chosen people, couldn’t even follow all the rules. There is no power in that way of living. It only creates an environment of guilt and inadequacy. The more rules the religious leaders of that day added, the more impossible it became to succeed at following God. And they were so quick to judge. They plotted to kill Jesus from the moment His ministry started for breaking their pious rules. He even broke their precious Sabbath, on purpose, just to prove His point.
Look at what He said to the religious leaders, “Now you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup, and of the platter; but inside of you, you are full of robbery and wickedness. You foolish ones, did not He who made the outside make the inside also? But give that which is within as charity, and then all things are clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint, and rue, and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings in the market places. Woe to you! For you are like concealed tombs, and the people who walk over them are unaware of it.” (Luke 11:37-44)
Following only the moral or ethical, or intellectual path of religion will get you no where. If we do not learn to walk with God on a daily basis, and learn to hear His voice as He speaks His truth into our lives, we will live a pretty miserable life. It’s time for the pretending to stop. And it’s time to stop letting somebody else tell you what they think God wants for you. You cannot tell me what God wants for my life. Sure you can pray for me, and maybe on occasion God will urge you to speak some truth to me, but I have to get alone with my Father. He has truth for me. He has comfort for me. He has healing for me. But if I don’t know Him intimately, how can I know what He has for me. There is no power in living your life according to somebody else’s set of criteria, or rules, or programs. There are no “12 steps to having God.”
I’ve been reading D.M. Lloyd-Jones book, The Christian Warfare. What a treasure. He makes this observation, “It’s not knowledge we need; it’s power. And that is where your moral ethical systems break down and fail completely. They have no power to offer, none at all. We must beware, therefore, of reducing Christianity to mere moral, ethical teaching. God forbid that anybody should still be held in that ignorance and blindness! All that teaching has been tried very thoroughly for a hundred years and more, and it has failed completely.” (page 34)
And if you have no power, you’re defenseless. You’re a sitting duck. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, which comes to us through an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, your life will remain in a topsy-turby state of uncertainty and chaos. There’s no power, and there’s no freedom in following the rules. The Old Testament law, and modern society’s multiple interpretations of Christianity have us falling short of the mark every time. We can’t get to God that way. We need the truth of the gospel. The living truth, not the intellectual truth. Jesus said, “But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:21) And this truth is what sets us free from the bondage of rules based religion. How do we get there? Lloyd-Jones says, “Divine communication is the whole basis of the Christian faith.” (page 26) I believe if more of us would pursue divine communication with our Heavenly Father, we would see people healed. We would see lives restored. We would see deceptions exposed. And we would live a life filled with divine power and holy freedom like we’ve never known.