Rules are for a reason….

We have a rule in our house – no playing video games once you go to bed. Our kids can stay up a bit and read…but no games. No devices. Nothing connected to the internet.

Several years ago, I heard a sound in the kitchen after the kids had gone to bed. I went to check it out, and it was Mookie putting his DS on the counter. When I asked him what he was doing, he said, “I want to play it, and I know if I keep it in my room, I will. So I brought it in here.”

Smart kid.

You are to eat bread made without yeast for seven days. On the first day get rid of any yeast you find in your house. Anyone who eats bread made with yeast during the seven festival days must be cut off from the rest of Israel. (Exodus 12:15)

I read this a few days back in my daily reading, and it stuck with me. I kept thinking about it. No bread with yeast or you’re cut off. Don’t even let it be found in your house!

Wow! That sounds a bit harsh, doesn’t it?

We have our rules for a reason. It’s not because we’re mean and we don’t want them to have any fun. It’s because we love our kids. We want to help them do their best and avoid giving in to temptation.

And there was a reason behind God’s rules too.

Eating bread without yeast was to remind them of their hasty escape from Egypt. It was to remind them (and later their descendants) of how God mightily and powerfully rescued them.

Now, I get the whole eat bread without yeast thing. I do. But why couldn’t they even have it in their house?

Law Or Grace?

There’s a reason for the rule, and behind this command, I see the love and grace of God. Yes…LOVE and GRACE and LAW.

Some people look at the Old Testament and see harsh God. Mean God. They see only law and works and judgment with no grace or love to be found. They see a cruel taskmaster that was impossible to please.

They also look at the New Testament and see only love and grace with no rules at all. That it’s impossible to displease such a loving, graceful, and merciful God. No more rules…just love and grace.

But that’s not the case at all. There are love and grace and rules in both covenants. In the Old Testament AND the New Testament. It’s not law or grace. It’s law AND grace.

Why rules?

Because He knows me.

God knew his man inside and out. He created him. He knew his weaknesses and tendencies. And He knew that even though they may have wanted to obey and not use yeast, the temptation would be there to use it just out of habit.

These folks made bread from scratch all day. Every day. But it was only a sin for them to use yeast 7 days a year. That might be a hard habit to break.

So, God commanded them to remove it from their house. If it’s not in their house, they won’t reach for it or try to use it. Smart God. Loving God. Graceful and merciful God.

His rules weren’t to hurt them. They were motivated by love to help them do their best. Help them obey. Help them not to miss it.

Sin separated God from His man, and He didn’t like that. So He showed them in the law how to keep that from happening. He wanted intimacy. See the love and grace behind the rules?

God didn’t want to pour out judgment, but when His holiness is violated by sin, He has no choice. That’s why He forewarned them by the law what would violate His holiness. Love motivated the rules.

Clearly, no man could keep the entire law. No one is perfect, and everyone missed it. So He made provision in the Old Testament to cover sin with the sacrificial law, which Jesus later fulfilled for us. Thank God!

Where the Old Testament sacrifices just covered the sin, Jesus’ sacrifice cleansed sin. Removed it. Restored intimacy with our Father.

Works vs. Grace

We can never earn our salvation. Jesus had to do that for us. No works necessary there. It’s a free gift. Love and grace for sure.

But God knows His man. He knows our flesh. He knows how easy it is for us to miss it and violate His holiness. So He made sure Paul and the other authors of the New Testament wrote about what pleases Him and displeases Him. Sin lists. Rules. Do this and avoid this. Stay away from this and run to this.

In fact, Jesus Himself in Revelation told the churches what they were doing that pleased Him AND what displeased Him. And He told them to repent.

If you have a blasé attitude about sin because of grace, you don’t have a proper understanding of grace.

God’s rules and laws are not meant to bring us into bondage. Into works. They’re meant to keep us out of the bondage of the destruction that sin brings. And sin always brings destruction.

When our actions are motivated by love, they are NOT works. There’s a difference between doing something because you have to and expressing your love to someone by what you do (or don’t do) because you want to. Because you love them.

God placed His rules in the Word – in the Old Testament AND the New Testament – for a reason, and that reason is love.

He’s trying to help us live the most satisfying and abundant life possible without the shame and guilt and regret and natural consequences that sin brings with it.

So, what do you need to remove from your house?

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