Have you ever wondered why we have rules and regulations to follow? I mean why is there a speed limit? Why do we get parking tickets? Why can’t we jay-walk when crossing a street? Why can’t I steal if I need something and don’t have enough money to buy? Or what about when someone else harms me, why can’t I hurt them back in some dramatic way that will certainly get their attention? Believe it or not there was a time on this earth when there were no rules or regulations, the time from Adam being told to take his wife and leave the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3) until God gave Moses the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1). God did give some rules about what should be eaten and what should not and God made it very clear that murdering your brother was not acceptable (Genesis 4). But the rules and regulations were very few in comparison to today.
Of course mankind became so wicked (Genesis 6:5) that God destroyed everyone except Noah and his three sons and all their wives (Genesis 9:1-17). After the flood that destroyed nearly everything God did give some guiding dietary rules again to Noah and his sons and also told them to get busy and populate the earth again and to not kill each other. In other words the rules laid down by God to Noah were pretty much the same as the ones God laid out for Adam and Eve. God also confused people with the establishment of different languages so that the people would stop building a mighty tower with the purpose of reaching heaven (Genesis 11). This would lead me to conclude that people had learned to organize and work together and were not primitive savages.
But until the Ten Commandments were given to Moses people judged in their hearts what was right and wrong to do (Romans 2:12-16). It is fascinating to read in the book of Genesis how people before Moses was given the big Ten actually conducted their lives. There were cities and countries that had many laws to govern their people. An example is Egypt where Abraham and Sarah went to find relief from a famine (Genesis 12) and where Joseph was taken after being sold by his brothers into slavery (Genesis 37-50 tells us the story of Joseph). It was in the giving of the Ten Commandments that God’s people were given laws to help guide them into righteous living which is what God desires of His people, then and now.
We know from all of these scriptures that God has placed inside every human heart the capacity to live righteously and be a good citizen in this world. Even those who are not Christians have this GPS system built into their heart to be a good person. So I ask again, why do we need rules and regulations? If we all know within our hearts what is right to do in order to get along with our families, our neighbors, and our communities? Why did God need to write down in stone the Ten Commandments and then follow-up with a ton of rules and regulations for what to eat, when to eat, how to worship, and so on and so forth?
I believe it is for the same reason that you and I speed when no one is looking. For the same reason that you and I are lazy when no one is looking. For the same reason that you and I have a sense of entitlement even though we may not deserve what we think we are entitled to because we did nothing to earn it. We are rebellious toward God. We have rebellious hearts. We want what we want no matter how our getting it may affect or impact someone else. We look out for ourselves first and foremost because we are rebellious people. Without God’s governing rules we would become just as carnal and sinful as the rest of the world that has lived and been destroyed before us. All these rules and regulations put into place by God for the Jewish people showed the Jewish people and the rest of the world that God’s way is a righteous and better way to live and to prosper. And that is why they were hated and are still hated today. If we live righteously the world will hate us because the rest of the world hates God. They hate God because God demands our all. They hate God because God destroys those who do not love Him enough to obey Him. They hate God because Satan is in the midst of the world stirring up hatred against God. The world has their own rules and regulations, that is to promote pride, selfishness, deceitfulness, lying to get what you want, immorality and carnal living on a grand scale, and that God and the need for God has been replaced by self. How sad it is to see this played out in the lives of our family and friends and countries today.
So why did Jesus come, didn’t He come to abolish the Law and to get rid of all the tedious rules and regulations put into the Jewish Law? I mean as a Christian do I have to follow any rules or regulations? Don’t I just ask Jesus into my heart and that’s it? And after I have taken Christ as my Savior and I am assured of going to heaven because I belong to Christ then I can just do whatever I want with my life? Isn’t that how many so-called Christians are living today?
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:17-20, (New International Version or NIV).
You see the Jewish people were looking for the Messiah, the one they knew had been foretold would come and they thought that when the Messiah came that the Jewish nation would rule the world. Jesus had called twelve men to follow Him and at this point I am pretty sure that these men thought that Jesus was the Messiah and that He would rule an earthly kingdom, and not a spiritual kingdom. But Jesus knew that the whole purpose of His coming to earth was to free the Jews and Gentiles alike from the sins of the world. The Romans were in charge of most of the world and the burden of being under their rule was great and kept the average person oppressed. Jesus knew that there was no way anyone other than Himself could ever be perfect enough to enter heaven under the burdens of the law. He goes on to give a famous sermon that you can read in Matthew chapters 5-7. What He teaches in this sermon is that no one can be good enough, can follow enough rules and regulations to enter God’s Heaven…and that is why we need Jesus to be our Savior. Here is the ending of His sermon.
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law, Matthew 7:24-29, (NIV).
The entire New Testament tells us that we still need to follow the laws of our country, we need to be good to everyone, to pray for our enemies and to treat our enemies well, to love our fellow Christians and to continue to do good things for others. Jesus takes our sins away and will give salvation (eternal life) to us at the judgement day (Revelation 22:12). Until then we as Christians are to understand that a rebellious heart is not going to get us into heaven. Yes we will have rules and regulations to follow because we are to be good citizens here on this earth because we know already that our real citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:17-21). There is no room for the rebellious and unrepentant in God’s Heaven! Stay faithful and stay focused on Christ and our future reward when Christ comes for us, dear Christian.