I was speaking on the dangers of legalism in a church when someone approached me and said, “Steve, I want to give you something. This is what every new member receives at the church where I regularly attend. I think you’ll find it interesting.” I looked at the brochure she handed me and read the title: “Truth About Standards: Biblical Standards For Christians”. The contents of this brochure list fifty-one rules the Christian is to live by in order to “keep our banner of victory waving high.” Below are the last nine of the fifty-one standards this group believes are important to godly living:
43. Biblical reason not to participate in worldly amusements, such as ball games, rodeos, circuses, racetracks, bowling alleys, skating rinks, theaters, video game rooms, etc.
44. Biblical reason not to go dancing, mixed bathing, etc.
45. Biblical reason for men to cut their hair short.
46. Biblical reason for women not to cut their hair but to let it grow long.
47. Biblical reason not to dye your hair.
48. Biblical reason not to wear clothing that pertaineth to the opposite sex.
49. Biblical reason to wear decent, modest clothes with modest styles; moderate prices and colors; decent dress lengths, sleeve lengths, and neck lines.
50. Biblical reason not to wear jewelry.
51. Biblical reason not to wear makeup.
Most evangelical Christians would consider this kind of list to be absurd — the idea that God is against ball games and rodeos? That He cares what color a lady’s dress may be? It is important to realize that this list of religious rules isn’t absurd to those who embrace it. They list numerous verses to prove the validity of each of their points.
Having seen this particular group’s blueprint for living, I ask you this question: What is yours? “Oh,” one may say, “I would never build my life around such a foolish list of rules. I simply try to do what the Bible clearly says.” That is exactly what these people would say if questioned about their rules. The truth of the matter is that in the eyes of God, the legalism in our lives looks just as absurd to God as theirs for one simple reason. Our lifestyle is not to be built on rules! Life is not about finding and keeping the right set of rules. Our life exists in our union with Jesus Christ. Out of that, everything is to flow.
Jesus didn’t come to help us keep religious rules. He came to deliver us from that system altogether. The old man who was married to law was put to death with Him at the cross so that we have no relationship to it anymore. The law is alive, but the “old you” who was married to it is not. “You also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4). Because of our co-crucifixion with Jesus Christ, we have absolutely no relationship to the law at all. None (See Romans 3:28; 6:14; 7:6; 8:3-4; 10:4; Galatians 3:21; 3:13,21; 5:18; 1 Timothy 1:9). Our commitment is to Christ alone.