When we think about laws for living, we think of the Old Testament, the nation of Israel, the law of Moses, and the book of Leviticus. When we think about Christian living, we think of the New Testament, grace, mercy, the work of Christ which fulfilled the law, and the law of liberty. But Jesus did not come to abolish the law. He came to turn us into the holy people who would live that holy standard. Grace does not exempt us from holiness. It empowers holiness in our lives.
While it is true that salvation is not based on a checklist of things we’ve done or haven’t done, it is far from a blank canvas of ‘do whatever you want’ living. When Paul wrote to one group of Christians in Thessalonica, he ended his letter this way…
“Give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and regard them very highly in love because of their work.
Be at peace among yourselves
Warn those who are irresponsible
Comfort the discouraged
Help the weak
Be patient with everyone
See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all
Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus
Don’t stifle the Spirit
Don’t despise prophecies, but test all things
Hold on to what is good
Stay away from every kind of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-22)
Sure looks like a list of dos and don’ts to me. It isn’t a way to be saved (only Jesus can save you.) But it is a way to live saved. Show me someone who doesn’t live like this, and I will show you someone who is not saved. Dos and don’ts aren’t bad. They keep us alive. The directive to not play in heavy traffic may save your life some day. The directive to eat healthy is not a burden. It frees you up to live well.
The Christian life is not JUST a list of dos and don’ts. But there are things Christians should do and there are things we should not do. Following that “list” doesn’t “make me a Christian”… but it causes me to experience the blessings of a Christian life and is part of what reveals that I am a Christian.
So what “Do” or “Don’t” in today’s list do you struggle with? Ask God to strengthen you in that area. Then bring your mind and body into submission to Christ and live free, doing the things you were designed to do.
[Bible quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible, unless otherwise noted.]
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.