By Pastor Lee Hemen
August 12, 2008
Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. (2 Timothy 2:5)
Just suppose that as we watched the Olympics a long distance runner who was out in front of all the others decided to simply run across the field to the finish line instead of staying in his lane, what do you think would happen? Certainly people would be mystified, some surprised, and others shocked, but one thing would be certain: He would be disqualified. His race would not count. He may even lose the chance to run in other races. Why? He did not compete according to the rules.
If this is true of a simple foot race, why do people think it is not true of spiritual things as well? There are so many folks who want to rewrite their own rules for spirituality. They want to define God, holiness, salvation, or what God’s instructions truly are. There are those who want to tie weights around the ankles of others so that they are hindered in knowing God. Some want to redefine sin, making it more of a “mistake” one makes in life that God will simply wink at. There are those who desperately think that by just being “good enough” is good enough! Folks try to rewrite the rules that God has given us because they do not like the race set before them. They want it all and they want it their way and God is just going to have to fit into their scheme of how the universe works. Yet, Paul reminds his friend Timothy that “if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.” How dare Paul say such a thing! Doesn’t he know that we want to rewrite the rules?
Christians are just as guilty in trying to make up their own rules for spirituality. Far too many think that holy thinking can replace holy living. Feeling good about one’s self can never save you or make you righteous before a holy God. We are to be holy because God is holy. We are to be living sacrifices, servants of the Lord, seeking to know and do His will in all areas of our lives. God does not exist to give us an emotional daily boost so we can face the day. We exist to live and breathe our lives for Him. We live to honor and glorify the Lord who died for our sins. It can be a hard task at times.
If you want to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus,” you are going to have to know the rules and live by them. The first one is quite simple however hard for most who desperately want to rewrite them. Jesus defined it when He related, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He elucidated on what this meant for our lives when He told His followers, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” There are not many ways to God, only one: Jesus. There is only one rule to follow in this race because “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
If an athlete wants to win a medal during the Olympics they have to compete following the rules already set down. The same is true for our spiritual lives as well. Not a Muhammad, Smith, White, Gandhi, or Buddha will save anyone. Why? They wanted to rewrite the rules. They wanted God defined their way for the outcome they desired forgetting that God already had a plan found in His Son. Being nice, good, or following manmade ritual will never save anyone. You can think that you can make up your own rules for spirituality but you will be surprised when you try to claim the prize you think you deserve and find out you have been disqualified for eternity. Stop making up your own rules and live by the ones God has already given us. Believe in Jesus and live for Him.
NOTE: This article is copyrighted by Pastor Lee Hemen © 2008 and the property of Pastor Lee Hemen. You are welcome to copy it, email it, or use it but please if you copy it, email it, or use it you must do so in its entirety.