Follow the rules! All too often we rebel against rules, don't we? After all, who obeys the speed limit? The speed limit on the highways here is 55 mph but 99% of the drivers drive 60 to 65 mph. We know that officers will not stop us for speeding up to 60, and will rarely get a ticket at 65. So why drive 55? Another rule broken. How often do we hear, "Rules are meant to be broken"? Are they really? If that is so, then why are rules made in the first place?
Some time ago I ran across this devotional that caused me to pause and think.
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Sometimes children can think that the rules parents provide are arbitrary and make their lives unnecessarily difficult—that they’re just meant to spoil all the fun. My three-year-old daughter Tabitha never wants to wear shoes, but the rule is she has to—especially when she is outside walking under one of the pine trees in our yard. When we grow up, we finally realize that the rules are actually meant, in most cases, for our benefit and welfare.
Jesus takes it all a step further when he says, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (v. 10 NRSV). Following the Lord’s rules is a way of experiencing his love. Furthermore, Jesus states, “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you.” Obedience to the living Christ is certainly not meant to make our lives miserable, or merely for our eventual benefit. It is meant for us to be able to experience his love and know true and lasting joy. It’s the kind of joy a child feels when she plays outside under the trees without getting a splinter to hinder the fun, the joy a son finds in seeing the eyes of delight on his dad’s face when he has done what was asked, the joy of pleasing the One who loves us.
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Doesn't this give us a good picture for the meaning of rules?
There is often a debate about the Ten Commandments and whether they need to be followed now that Jesus Christ has come. They were given to the Israelites such a long time ago, so they don't apply to us today, right? I don't think that is right.
Another argument is that the Ten Commandments don't need to be obeyed because they were part of the Old Covenant which is called the Covenant of Law, and that covenant became obsolete when Jesus introduced the New Covenant, the Covenant of Grace. It does say in Hebrews 8:13 --
"By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear. " (NIV)
It is true that we are no longer under the Old Covenant, but not necessarily that the Ten Commandments are no longer needed. There were more laws included in the covenant and they were given to the Israelites just before entering the Promised Land. They needed to know how to live as a nation in this new land. And part of those laws were the ones for the tabernacle and the sacrifices for sin. With the New Covenant, Jesus fulfilled the laws of the tabernacle and sacrifices for sin because He is the sacrifice, the final one, using His blood, not the blood of bulls and goats. And He is our High Priest, who is always in the presence of God every day, not just one day of the year as the Jewish high priests did. I could go on with that, but will just add that Jesus fulfilled those requirements of the Law - the Old Covenant - so those laws are now obsolete, as are many other laws of the Old Covenant.
But the question remains, does that mean the Ten Commandments are obsolete? What do you think? They are still good rules we need to live in society today. Our first obligation is to God, and then to our neighbors. Who are our neighbors? Everyone we come in contact with. Are we going to keep them perfectly, as required by the Old Covenant? No. But that is where the New Covenant comes in - grace. We don't keep the commandments because we have to or die, but because we want to live the best life we can on this earth. That brings us back to the devotional above. Read it again.