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Society has certain rules, and the penalty for breaking them can often be quite harsh. We can be fined, imprisoned, or even, in some cases, executed for breaking the rules. We may disagree with the rules or the penalties, but if we ignore their existence, we do so at serious risk to ourselves.

The same is true with God. Many of his rules (Don't kill; do not steal; etc.) are also taught (and enforced) by society. But others are not enforced by society. We can break them without being fined or imprisoned.

If we are going to try to follow God at all, we need to think seriously about his rules, including those that are not enforced by society. We risk punishment by society if we break rules just because we do not agree with them. But in a far more serious way, we risk punishment by God if we break HIS rules just because we disagree with him.

First, we need to ask ourselves who has more right to make the rules: God? or ourselves? Or, as God has put it, through one of his prophets, "Will the thing created make rules for the One who created it? Concerning what I decide to do, are you going to tell me what I can or cannot do?" (Isaiah 45:9-11).

A second factor to consider, which could make it easier to accept God's rules when we find them hard to appreciate, is to look at his overall track record. Haven't you found most of his rules good for you in the end? Experience has shown us that each time we discover a new rule that we have not been obeying, our lives improve when we change to conform with the rule.

Often it is not easy at first. It goes against the grain. It does not come "naturally". But that is because God is trying to get our old nature (or "human" nature) to die, so that he can replace it with a new super-human nature. We're all human. We all make mistakes. But the entire Christian walk has to do with changing that. It has to do with becoming SUPER-natural, through the grace of God.

Jesus said, "I have come so that you might have life, and so that you might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). He wants to extend both the length (i.e. to make it eternal) and the height (i.e. the quality) of our life.

An athlete enjoys a quality of life that an unfit person does not experience. The athlete can do more things with his or her body (and do them with more ease) than what others can do. So the athlete is "more alive" as a result. But this is primarily true because he has imposed disciplines on himself. "No pain, no gain," is a popular saying amongst athletes. And it is often true in spiritual things as well.

Unfortunately, "religion" has often imposed rules that were NOT from God, and it has imposed them with a harsh, self-righteous attitude. But it is doubtful that we can use that as an excuse to do away with rules altogether. Even people who have been very wrong about the rules may well be rewarded by God for their sincerity. A bad choice of rules may not bring the desired improvement in life's quality now; but it could still result in eternal life, if it was done in faith, and in an honest attempt to obey God to the best of your ability.

The same cannot be said for those who choose to ignore God's rules altogether, and who insist on making their own rules. Their way may be easier, and more "natural", but it does not represent faith in God. In fact, it represents just the opposite. No amount of religious activity, talk, or affiliation can take away from the fact that, at least in that area of your life, you have put up a barrier, and ordered God not to enter. (This is particularly true of matters pertaining to sex.) You have outlawed God. You have made your rule superior to his.

Almost invariably when this happens people will argue that no one can say such a thing. They will say that they are following a personal revelation of God's will which is superior to anything Jesus ever taught. They will argue that they do not need to obey the teachings of Jesus unless some secret revelation is given to them that they need to do this. Until then, they will say, they are exempt from the teachings of Jesus. They are (they say) innocent until proven guilty!

There is no point in arguing with such an attitude. Such people are out to get away with as much as they can for as long as they can. They are not really looking for the truth.

Common sense tells us that "innocent until proven guilty" is not the same as "innocent". And they will be proven guilty when the teachings of Jesus judge the world in the last days. (John 12:48) At that time it will not be a battle of wits, or a matter of arguing technicalities. Your most secret thoughts will be revealed, and God will judge you by how serious you were about trying to find the truth. Did you want to find the truth even if it proved yourself to be wrong, and in need of changing? If not, then you won't find it.

In conclusion, God has made the rules and delivered them to us through his Son. He alone has the authority to make the rules which govern who will or will not receive eternal life. We may be able to ignore them now, and replace them with our own opinions and philosophies, but we do so at our own (eternal) risk. Don't force God out of any corner of your life because of such a stupid attitude.

(See also No Pain, No Gain, and Smile, God Loves You!)

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