Rules As Life Guidelines, Not Law that Leads to Sin
At the age of 28 I have come to realize that sometimes rules are just necessary. It did not take me 28 years to realize or full understand this, but I struggled with the rules mentality for so long because I have often experienced rules as a law when in many cases they are guidelines. My main issue with rules over the years has been generally when someone lays down a rule as if it is biblical or the only way.
When rules are presented this way it does a couple of things. First, it often causes something to become sin that was never a sin. A great example of this is alcohol. Often times an institution will prohibit the consumption of alcohol, which often results in turning alcohol now into a temptation and sin when it is consumed. Alcohol is a gift from God, the first recorded miracle of Jesus, and when consumed appropriately and moderately can be a wonderful thing.
Second, by presenting or making rules as law it makes them appear as the only way. This in turn often results in the judgement of others when they may not be following those same given rules. It is important to remember that you can and still should have fellowship with fellow brothers even though their rule following may look different as the body of Christ is unique. What some can do in good conscience, other cannot. So, in some instances an issue or certain behavior maybe a sin issue for some and not for others. We must not make the mistake of making something a sin for all believers that was not clearly given as one in Scripture. I have many friends (okay a few) who only read the KJV of the Bible, don't go to movies, and dress funny. We are still friends, but the more their rules become law the less we find we have in common or want to hangout, but I love them as brothers all the same.
Are rules necessary? Absolutely, but I have come to see the freedom in rules as guidelines and not as law. Any organization and institution will have rules and I fully believe that you should follow those as your general guidelines because in most cases you agreed to those in working with them. And following rules as guidelines does not give one an excuse to sin, but rather respect them for what they are by submitting to the authority over them in their lives in a way that is Christ honoring (1 Peter 2:13-16).