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Being a Christian is Not About Obeying a List of Rules

By: Bethany Baird

How often have you seen a girl “stay on track” until college, or her early twenties, and then go off the deep end? Her Christian faith seems to have all but disappeared and she is embracing her new found “freedom.”

Sadly, I’ve seen that exact scenario happen over and over and over again.

Somewhere along the way we, as Christians, have slightly (or majorly) missed the point of why we do what we do.

The Christian life has become a list of rules containing do’s and don’ts, and sadly we’ve left our Savior completely out of the picture.

Way too many young people view Christianity as restraining them from the “real” fun.

They view Christianity as a list looking something like this…

  • Don’t have sex until you are married.
  • Don’t watch bad movies.
  • Don’t have boyfriend until you are ready to get married.
  • Don’t wear low cut shirts.
  • Don’t wear pants.
  • Don’t flirt with guys.
  • Don’t curse.
  • Don’t lie.
  • Don’t cheat.
  • Don’t steal.
  • Don’t drink.
  • Don’t, don’t, don’t.

The list of don’ts continues on and on and many of us have no idea exactly why we shouldn’t do those things. Much less a real heart conviction on our own.

That list of don’ts is actually a pretty good list containing some great advice. That is if it’s viewed from the right perspective. If it’s not viewed from the right perspective, Christianity is nothing more than a rule book with checkboxes to mark off and good works to fulfill.

Honestly, if I didn’t understand the big picture reasons behind why I do what I do, I would have given up on this Christian life a long time ago.

Over the years, I have come to understand the “why” behind the do’s and don’ts. And that why is the reason that I (and Kristen) spend so much time writing about practical issues pertaining to personal holiness on the GirlDefined blog.

Here are the reasons why.

Nancy Leigh Demoss (in her book Holiness) shares seven big picture reasons for why we should be holy or set apart. I am going to take that list from her book and share it with you:

We are to be holy…

  1. Because God is holy.
  2. Because holiness is God’s stated goal for every believer.
  3. Because Jesus died to deliver us from sin.
  4. Because we are saints.
  5. Because our intimacy with God depends on it.
  6. Because we are going to live eternally in a holy city.
  7. Because the well-being of others depends on it.

Nancy goes on to conclude that chapter by saying:

“Why care about being holy? Why be willing to say no to your flesh and yes to God, day in and day out? Because the world desperately needs to see what God is like. Because it is your created purpose and your ultimate destiny to be holy. Because of the price Jesus paid to make you holy. Because you are a saint. Because holy people get to see and know God. Because you’re getting ready to move to a place where there is no sin. And because your example may inspire someone who is watching you to choose or reject the pathway to holiness.”

That is why we should care about saying yes to personal holiness.

That is why we should care about honoring God in the practical areas of life. First and foremost because God is holy and we are called to be like Him.

“Since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’’” (1 Peter 1:16).

Your Christianity is soooo much deeper than just obeying rules.

Your Christianity is about striving to be like your Savior. It’s about reflecting Him well to those around you. It’s about spending time daily with Him so that you can know His true character. It’s about personally choosing to live a set apart lifestyle because of your love for Jesus.

The next time you are tempted to view your Christian life as a drudgery or as a list of do’s and don’ts, stop and remember the why behind those choices. Remember those seven points that Nancy shared with us.

Remember your identity in Christ and your goal to become “set apart” like Him in every area of your life.

Let’s talk about it…

Do you understand the why behind what you do?
Why do you have convictions and standards? What is the purpose of those convictions and standards?

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Being a Christian is Not About Obeying a List of Rules

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  • RoseRed

    Hello, I found your blog a few days ago and I’ve pretty much devoured it. I check every day in hopes of seeing a new post.I love everything you write; it’s really inspiring and eye-opening.
    A lot of the time a do feel like being a Christian keeps me from having fun, but I realize that it is not worth the price I would pay when this life is over. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I really don’t want most of these “fun” things. I’m content with what I have. Yes, there are times when I want to “forget” these rules and fit in with the crowd. But again, it’s not worth it. Thank you for a very inspiring post. I look forward to your next one.
    One other thing. Could you please pray for me? Recently I’ve been questioning my faith in God and I feel so lost. Most of the time I talk to him, I feel like I’m just talking to myself. It’s like he’s not there, like there isn’t a God. My heart and mind are so confused.
    Prayers would be greatly appreciated.

    • Tammy

      RoseRed There have been times in my life when I have doubted my salvation as well. These time have occurred when I was not being obedient and had sinful habits that I did not want to let go of. Perhaps your conflict with worldly desires is causing you to doubt? I would encourage you to find Christian ladies to spend your time with. This may be a time to step away from those who are distracting you from God. I will pray for you that: “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19. Preach the gospel to yourself…We have offended a Holy God, there is a penalty for that. Which is eternal separation from God-Hell. But because God loves us He made a way for us to be with Him eternally-though Jesus death on the cross. If you truly believe that and repent of your sin (realize you are wrong and change your direction) you will be saved. Memorize scripture and keep your mind focused on that.

      • RoseRed

        Thank you, Tammy. This is a confusing time in my life, but I will remember what you have said.

        • Abigail

          Dear Rose, I too have had struggles with doubting God, and something that helped me greatly was remembering that many of the great “fathers of the faith”, such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Charles Spurgeon ALL doubted God during their ministries. In his sermon “The Minister’s Fainting Fits”, Spurgeon wrote this encouraging piece of advice after reminding us that even the strongest believers may face seasons of depression, being stripped of the joy brought by faith. “The lesson of wisdom is, be not dismayed by soul-trouble … Cast not away your confidence, for it hath great recompense of reward. Even if the enemy’s foot be on your neck, expect to rise amid overthrow him. Cast the burden of the present, along with the sin of the past and the fear of the future, upon the Lord, who forsaketh not his saints.” <3

    • Moriah Mari

      Hey RoseRed, I understand how your feeling and I know it’s a really hard place to be. One thing I would strongly encourage you to do is instead of focusing on your own feelings get out the word and pour over the truth. Feelings can be deceptive. I remember telling someone once, something along the lines, that I wasn’t sure I was a Christian because of me, I was sure I was a Christian because of God’s faithfulness to me. Start counting His faithfulness (maybe write it in a journal!), every Christian has times of being in the dessert because it’s a relationships and all relationships are difficult but we have to stay committed to the relationship. If you think perhaps you’ve never been committed to your relationship with Christ don’t stress too much about figuring that part out, rather, focus on repentance and being committed to your relationship with Christ today! I’ll be praying for you! Feel free to let us know how we can encourage and continuing praying for you!

      • RoseRed

        Moriah Mari that was really helpful and very encouraging! But I’ve been reading my Bible lately, and God performed so many miracles back in those days. Why doesn’t he now? I feel like I need God to physically speak to me or something, so I really know he’s there. I pray every night that God will prove to me, somehow, that he exists but it seems that it will never happen. I just need some proof, anything, that can show me he really is God.

  • Jesusfreak17

    Great post! Also, it’s important to realize that in addition,being a Christian is about faith, not works!

  • Elizabeth Williams

    Love this! It’s so true. There are so many young girls who do all of the right things but not for the right reasons. And of course, that will never last. So many people do things also to make themselves look better. I know that for me, I used to do a lot because I just thought it was the do’s and don’t’s of Christianity. Now I do the things I do for two reasons. One, I am absolutely convicted in my heart that certain things are right and certain things are wrong. Also, I have a love for Christ and a lot of things just come naturally out of a heart for God. The Christian life is so much easier that way 🙂

    • Moriah Mari

      Loved what you said there, “things just come naturally out of a heart for God.” Exactly!

  • Painting

    This is a great post! This is kind of off subject but could u do a post on how u know if a certain person is the one God wants u to date/marry?

  • Wow great post! I often forget about focusing on holiness and instead I focus on the do’s and don’ts, just like you mentioned. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Moriah Mari

    Loved this concept on Christianity not being about rules. One thing I’m thinking of is how easy it is to get caught up in the rules but how when you are actually really acquainted with the heart of an issue (modesty, guy-girl interaction) the “rules” can fade to the back. For example, if following Jesus is rules it can get confusing and burdensome but if you’re so well acquainted with Jesus that making life decisions is more like looking at life through the eyes of your friend sometimes it can really simplify things. This isn’t to devalue “rules” but to say that when it’s all about Jesus it’s so much more beautiful and freeing. Hope this makes sense.:)

  • RoseRed

    I never expected to have so many people reply… Thank you all. It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one who feels like this.
    CutiePie888 I will pray for you. (I prefer not to say exactly where, but I’m in Asia)

  • Fantastic post! A great reminder that without Christ at the center we’re just following rules without a reason and purpose, and as soon as we’re offered an easy way out our meaningless rules fall and shatter right in front of us. Thanks for writing it!

  • Blooming Princess

    Amen! To be honest, when I was a new believer I also asked questions like those mentioned above. Why am I trying to obey the rules and follow the do’s and don’ts in Christianity? Until He showed me that Christianity isn’t about the do’s and don’ts, it’s about doing everything to please the Lord by His grace and for His glory. If the motive of our heart is right, that is to seek first His kingdom, everything will fall into its perfect place.


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