We must be careful when we try to follow the precepts that we hear in church. If we follow them without discussing them with the Holy Spirit, we risk falling into a position that is far too rigid.
Jesus loved everyone: He died on the cross for all sinners. But He had rather heated discussions with the religious men of his time. What seemed to bother him the most was their rigidity. The Pharisees and their disciples were so focused on following the law of Moses that they did not take the time to consult the One who had given these laws to the prophet! “Why do your disciples disobey the tradition of the elders? For they don’t wash their hands when they eat bread.”He answered them, “Why do you also disobey the commandment of God because of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:2-3 WEB) In this chapter, Jesus challenged their traditions of purification. In other places, He touched their laws on the Sabbath or adultery. Jesus’ attitude was always the same.”You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, ‘These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. And in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine rules made by men” (Matthew 15:7-9 WEB).
Sometimes we do the same thing when it comes to dating. The Bible says very little about it, but it is clearly written that a child of God should not marry a non-believer and that sex is reserved for marriage. Now the Bible does not mention denominations since there were none at that time. When some spiritual authorities teach their members not to associate with anyone outside their church or denomination, they add a rule that is not in the Bible. When some people argue that God forbids a couple to hold hands before marriage, again, they add rules that are not in the Bible. These rules are not bad, they want to protect the salvation of singles, but we must remain vigilant when these rules become absolutes.
“If you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances, “Don’t handle, nor taste, nor touch” (all of which perish with use), according to the precepts and doctrines of men? Which things indeed appear like wisdom in self-imposed worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but aren’t of any value against the indulgence of the flesh.” (Colossians 2:20-23 WEB).
The rules may be put in place with good intentions, but if we remove the Holy Spirit from the equation, we can easily fall into a religion that is far from the heart of God. Many Christians become hard and careless when they focus on rules and doctrines instead of letting the Holy Spirit guide them. Just like the Pharisees! We must remember that we are all in different places. What God is asking you to do now, He may not ask another person to do. He may need to adjust something else before imposing such or such a conduct. If we ask God why He allows a brother to do this or that, when God has clearly told us not to do it, perhaps He will answer what Jesus said to Peter. “Jesus said to him, “If I desire that he stay until I come, what is that to you? You follow me” (John 21:22 WEB). A little clarification here: we must not impose our own rules on others, but we must always respect the limits that others have given us, even if we do not believe that they apply to us. (Read this article again, if necessary.)
It is good to follow the precepts written in the Bible, but it is even better to follow the One who wrote these precepts. In the same vein, it is good to serve the Lord, but it is even better to do the service that He asks us to do. Martha was very busy serving Jesus, but Mary listened to Jesus (Luke 10:38-42). Sometimes we can be so busy serving the Lord doing things that He has never asked us to do. If we follow His schedule, we may have time to meet potential partners; we will be in the right place at the right time.
Stop for a few minutes. Are you following what people have told you to do without talking to the Holy Spirit? Are you easily offended by the actions of others around you? Are you busy doing God’s work and end up neglecting your fellowship with Him? It may be time to put religion aside and return to an authentic relationship with your Lord. That’s what Jesus wants.