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Summary: Too often we think God has too many rules and laws and we do not embrace God because of the rules/legalism

Believing and Not Believing

The God of Rules

May 7, 2017

I believe there are lots of people who would love to be followers of Jesus, people who want to believe, however, something holds them back.

While these people are rejecting God, I believe they are doing this because they have a distorted, an incorrect view of God. That’s really what we’re talking about over the course of this series. I could call it “Distorted Views!”

Last week we looked at the fact that God is not a Genie. We just don’t rub His belly and are granted 3 wishes. This week, we’re going to look at what I am calling the God of Rules.

Next week, we will look at the Unemotional God. When we don’t feel God’s presence. Then in week 4, it will be the God of no heart! When we believe God doesn’t care.

Today, we’re looking at the Legalistic God, the God of Rules. You want to believe in God, but all of these rules seem to get in the way. You want to grow deeper in your faith, but there are too many obstacles, rules and laws and legalism which seems to slow you down.

Have you experienced this in your life? People get on you because you’re supposed to act in a very certain way in church or in public. Remember, when women couldn’t wear pants? Men had to be clean shaven and wear a suit. You had to have a certain version of the Bible for it to really be the Bible. You couldn’t go to the store or a movie on Sunday’s. Then we add prohibitions today, that too many things are sinful. Drinking is sinful, tatoos are sinful and the list goes on.

Some people want to believe in God, but they hear about all of these rules, and they wonder why would I subject myself to all of these rules with all of these people. My life is going fine. Why should I follow a God who tells me do this and don’t do that?!

So, let’s take a look at this conundrum - -

In Matthew 23, Jesus was going at the Pharisees, and He said this ~

25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!

For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. – Matthew 23:25-26

Have you ever looked at someone and thought “you are such a hypocrite! You say one thing, but you do something very different!”

That’s exactly what Jesus was saying in this passage. They were putting on this religious show for the people, but on the inside, they were still dirty and unclean.

So, Jesus tells them to get their insides clean before they show their outside nature. In fact, this is a common theme we see over and over in comments by Jesus. Look at the very next comments by Jesus ~

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!

For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.

28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. – Matthew 23:27-28

Remember the word hypocrite comes from a Greek word which means “actor” or someone who pretends to be someone they are not. That’s what Jesus is saying. Add to that what He said in Matthew 6 ~

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others.

Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. – Matthew 6:16

This is what some people would say is the problem with religion. It focuses on the external things rather than on the inside or inner person. We become stuck on this and we see a holy God and we are unholy, we are sinners, so we think we have to work hard to make ourselves clean and holy. We think if we follow all of the rules, we will have it made and God will look at us and say, “Ah, well done good and faithful servant.”

So, we go to church, not because we want to, but because we believe we will find God’s good graces if we do, we have to give our money, and be nice, don’t be mean, let others know that you do good. And don’t do all the bad things. Don't drink, don't smoke, don't chew, and don't run with girls who do. If I do these things, and don't do the bad things, then maybe I’ll be right with God.

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