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How Can Religious Rules Keep Us From Knowing God (John 9:13-23)?

“You might be a redneck if the dog catcher calls for a backup unit when visiting your house,” said Jeff Foxworthy.

You might be a legalist if you think keeping religious rules will secure your eternal destiny in God’s kingdom.

Most people don’t think of Jesus as a rebel, but he was when it came to breaking man-made, religious rules. He loved to send religious authorities into a dither by violating their taboos.

After religious leaders questioned the man whom Jesus healed and his parents to make sure he was born blind, they knew that Jesus had performed an amazing miracle (John 9:13-23).

“In the Bible, the Pharisees said that anyone who said Jesus was the Messiah would be thrown out of the synagogue,” says Aryanna, 9.

Being thrown out of the synagogue was really the issue for the parents of the man who received his sight from Jesus. That’s why they only commented on the healed man being their son and being born blind.

Jesus purposely violated the oral tradition of the Pharisees, who were the religious leaders of his day. First, Jesus healed on the Sabbath, which was forbidden. Second, when Jesus spit into the dirt, he kneaded it with his hands and made a paste to put on the blind man’s eyes. Kneading moisture and dirt to make clay was forbidden by a code of tradition that created rules beyond the law that God gave through Moses.

The 10 commandments and the hundreds of laws that governed Israel as a theocracy were never given as a means to earn one’s way to heaven. Jesus turned this distortion of God’s law completely on its head when he preached the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.

If you think you’re keeping one of God’s commandments by not murdering, think again. Jesus said if you’re angry with your brother for no reason, you’ve committed murder in your heart (Matthew 5:21-22). The righteousness needed to dwell forever in God’s kingdom goes beyond observing external laws. We need an inner righteousness that only God can give.

We love keeping rules because they give us a sense of control. Instead of admitting we’ve broken God’s laws and need a savior, we imagine we’re making points with God by following religious traditions.

In the 1950s, a man from the south said that he was told it was OK to smoke tobacco, but sinful to chew it. When he moved to the north, now he could chew, but smoking was sinful.

Even though Jesus rebelled against religious rules and traditions, he said he didn’t come to abolish God’s law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). Jesus kept the law perfectly that we’ve all broken.

“Everybody tries to make their own rules, and sometimes they don’t survive,” says Diego, 10.

Think about this: Jesus came to deliver us from our self-salvation projects. By offering himself as an acceptable, righteous sacrifice for us, he satisfied God’s justice as the only one who kept God’s law perfectly. By trusting Jesus alone for our salvation, God credits to us Jesus’ righteousness.

Memorize this truth: “For he made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him,” (II Corinthians 5:21).

Ask this question: Will you trust Jesus alone to secure your place in his eternal kingdom? Or would you rather trust your religious, rule-keeping efforts?

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Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.


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