Christianity – It’s Rules & Regulations

BIBLE TEACHING – “Christianity – It’s Rules & Regulations”

I grew up with the Rules & Regulations of Christianity. The Church I attended with my Mum, Dad and Sister had it’s own brand of Rules & Regulations. I have no doubt that my Mum & Dad were genuinely saved but I never met Jesus in that Church. I did think I was a Christian, and at 14 years of age, I even taught a Sunday School class, that was before my wayward years from the age of 15 ’till I really got saved at 19.

I remember being on a Church outing one summer, and my old friend dared to go into a Public house (bar) for a drink of cider, he was legally old enough and it was a hot summer day. But Oh the resulting remarks! He had dared to go into Satan’s den! A certain steward (deacon) often used to light his pipe up in the Church vestry before a meeting, but go into a pub? Unthinkable!

I came to see, as I got older, that every denomination had it’s own brand of Rules & Regulations. The denomination I was attached to were seriously Temperance, that is they did not allow the consumption of alcohol. They also frowned upon gambling, it was considered a sin, as was dancing and going into a dance hall. In my wayward years I actually plucked up the courage to go to a dance hall and I learnt some ballroom dancing! We never, ever, went into a shop on a Sunday, after all, didn’t we have six days a week to do our shopping in? Sunday was spent going to Church, usually three times, and the remainder of the day spent in quiet pursuits. It was somehow not right to make a noise on a Sunday. Even television, which was just becoming popular, (just one available channel) was given a rest on Sundays in favour of the radio. The cinema was also frowned upon. Even if the film was decent, you were considered to be ploughing money into making films that were indecent.

The rules and regulations of Christianity were a way of dealing with those things that were considered sinful. Those ‘sinful’ things were:

DRINKING; SMOKING; GAMBLING; DANCING; TELEVISION; THEATRE; CINEMA; SUNDAY SHOPPING; MAKE-UP;

There is one Church in USA (there are probably more) who’s doctrinal statement I agree with, but add these as further requirements:

Total abstinence from all liquor or strong drinks. Against the use of tobacco in any form, opium, morphine, etc. A New Testament interpretation of the use of meats and drinks. That our members dress according to the teachings of the New Testament. That our members conform to the Scripture relative to outward adornment and the use of cosmetics, etc. that create an unnatural appearance. That our members adhere to the scriptural admonition that our women have long hair and our men have short hair .Against members wearing jewellery for ornament or decoration, such as finger rings (this does not apply to wedding bands), bracelets, earrings, lockets, etc. Against members attending movies, dances and other ungodly amusements: further, that extreme caution be exercised in viewing and in the selectivity of television programs. Against members going swimming with opposite sex other than the immediate family. Against members belonging to lodges. Against members swearing. Divorce and remarriage.

Personally, I found that quite shocking! A Church, that on the surface appears to believe, much like I believe, have actually added these things as a requirement for membership!

Now, I want to make a statement, that also may surprise or even shock you. All these things, RULES & REGULATIONS, that you find among the Churches still today, ARE NOT SIN! Let me say that again, even more bolder:

NONE OF THESE THINGS ARE SIN!

Just let that sink in a moment. I’m not advocating that we go out and make all these things a part of our lives. Some may be harmful to our bodies, some may be undesirable, BUT THEY ARE NOT SIN. So what is sin? What makes us defiled before a holy God?

This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching FOR DOCTRINES the commandments of men. And He called the multitudes and said unto them, HEAR AND UNDERSTAND: Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which COMETH OUT OF THE HEART, this defileth a man.” Matthew 15: 8-11

Then answereth Peter and said unto Him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said; Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart; and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed EVIL THOUGHTS, MURDERS,ADULTERIES, FORNICATIONS, THEFTS, FALSE WITNESS, BLASPHEMIES; THESE ARE THE THINGS WHICH DEFILE A MAN.” Matthew 15: 15-20

Do you HEAR and UNDERSTAND? Sin comes forth from the heart. And this is why:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Jeremiah 17: 9

Sin proceeds from a sinful heart.

Popular religion seeks to change people from the outside. They give us RULES & REGULATIONS to live by, to make the outward appearance look good. But it doesn’t change us on the inside. God does not look at our outward appearance, He looks upon our heart! (see: 1 Samuel 16: 7)

Jesus came to cleanse us on the inside, to give us a clean heart. His cleansing is ongoing.

 “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”    1 John 1:9

 The Amplified Version says “and (Continuously) cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

We don’t want to carry the heavy burden of DON’T DO THIS & DON’T DO THAT. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for placing that very burden upon Israel when He walked this earth. Jesus told us:

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”        John 8: 32

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”    John 8: 36

Notice in these verses that TRUTH does the same as the SON. That’s because Jesus is “THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE” John 14: 6

If you are genuinely saved and not a Christian in name only, then you are FREE in Christ!

When people ask me if it’s OK for a Christian to do this, or that, or go here, or there, I usually answer with this scripture.

….whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him” Colossians 3: 17

If you can’t do it in His name, giving thanks to God, then don’t do it! If you can’t go there in His name, giving thanks to God, then don’t go there! It’s all very simple! There’s no burden to bear.

….happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth” Romans 14: 22b

Whilst on this subject, let me tackle something similar that is gaining in popularity among the Church groups today. Actually it’s two things, but they are so closely related that they can be treated as one.

Gaining ground today is the idea that Christians shouldn’t celebrate Easter or Christmas. It’s closely related to the drive to bring Christians back nearer to Judaism. Let me give you a verse from Revelation.

John, on the Island of Patmos, was relating letters to the Churches in Asia, which Jesus was giving Him in a vision. These seven letters, in chapters 2&3 of Revelation are also generally accepted to be prophetic of the ages of the Church. Both the Churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia had a problem with people “Who say they are Jews and are not”

You can read the accounts in Revelation 2: 9 and Revelation 3: 9. Jesus said, in both cases that these people were “Of the synagogue of Satan”. Prophetically, the Church at Philadelphia is very interesting because it’s one of the ‘CHURCH TYPES’ that will be around at the time of the rapture. We know this from verse 10

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation (trouble) which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth”

So, prophetically, the Church at Philadelphia describes a type of Church that is with us today, for we are in those end times.

So we can conclude that in some Churches today, there are those who live a lie by saying they are Jews and are not! Now, I cannot accept that any Gentile would claim to be an ethnic Jew. Why would they do that? The Jews have been and still are subject to a Satanic hatred that goes by the name of anti-Semitism. The Bible prophesies that Israel will be a “Cup of trembling to all nations” (Zech 12: 2) That is certainly being fulfilled in these days. So why pretend to be an ethnic Jew, when you clearly are not?

No, I believe this refers to people, Gentile Christians, or at least Gentile Churchgoers, who try to live/worship as Jews. They believe in keeping the Jewish feasts and customs, and imitate Jews in their worship. This has become very popular in some places, fed by teaching from the Hebrew Roots Movement. I have come across many today who even use the Hebrew name for Jesus – YESHUA. But why? I’m a Gentile believer. I love Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. Why would I revert to calling him by His Hebrew name? Would it make God any more pleased with me?

I believe that this move to adopt the Hebrew name for Jesus, and keep the feast days and customs of Israel, Is exactly what Jesus related to John in the letter to the Church at Philadelphia. By their actions, they are saying they are Jews – and are NOT.

In keeping with this trend, some Gentile ‘Christians’ tell us we shouldn’t celebrate Easter but celebrate Passover instead! I believe the Passover was a wonderful, miraculous act by God on behalf of His chosen people, and it’s right that Israel should celebrate this. But I’m a Gentile. I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where it tells me I need to do this. In fact I find the opposite. The miraculous passover was strictly for Israel, not for Gentiles. The very early Church even became divided at one point because there were those who were telling Gentile believers that they had to do these things and even be circumcised. The whole of Paul’s letter to the Galatians is on this very subject. Because the Gentile Church at Galatia had put themselves back under the law by trying to imitate the Jewish believers. Paul used strong words to this Church.

O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you” Gal. 3: 1

There is no Biblical requirement for Gentile Christians to ‘become’ Jewish or Hebrew or keep their customs and ways. In fact, both Jew & Gentile become ONE in Christ at conversion.

There is neither Jew nor Greek (Gentile), there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female, for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” Galatians 3: 28

The same accusations are made against those who celebrate our Lord’s birth a Christmas. We are told it’s pagan and we should not celebrate it. When I celebrate Christmas, I am not keeping a pagan festival, I am celebrating the miracle of the virgin birth of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Yes, paganism has effected our history. We cannot be free of that. Even the names of the days of the week, and the months of the year, are pagan. Some being named after Greek gods and others after Roman emperors. Even the concept of MONEY is pagan. The wedding ring is also a pagan idea with pagan roots. Are we going to do away with all these things? Have nothing to do with money? Rename the days and the months? Throw away our wedding bands? Can you see how silly this gets? Our great God doesn’t want us to get encumbered with all these do’s & don’ts, He wants us to be FREE!

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.”                  Colossians 2: 16-17

Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; which all are to perish with the using) after the commandments and doctrines of men?” Colossians 2: 20-22

The Bible also makes it clear that those who are bound by such rules & regulations, are the weaker brethren, and those who are FREE are not to make their freedom a stumbling block to those who are bound.

But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to them that are weak.” 1 Corinthians 8: 9

But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ” 1 Corinthians 8: 12

I believe the overriding ‘rule’ on these things in the scriptures is, if you are FREE then praise God for your freedom in Christ. But, at the same time, we are not to judge our weaker brethren who are bound, and cause them to stumble. But remember:

….happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth” Romans 14: 22b

Enjoy your freedom in Christ!

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free”        John 8: 32

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”    John 8: 36

Brotherly love….Pastor Keith July 2014

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