Troublesome Topic: We Can’t Change the Rules

Lesson 13 of 13

I used to preach that people need to establish a relationship with God, but I was wrong about how it is entered into. We never, never participate in establishing any part of the relationship we have with God. He is the sovereign; we are His subjects. He has already established everything that the relationship involves; we either agree to, or reject, what He has established. That is the way covenants work.

Normally, any deviation from a covenant brings death. However, God is more gracious than most covenant lords. If we choose to live life our own way, while trying to incorporate some of God’s instructions, He does not punish us immediately with death; usually He calls us to something better, something higher. However, the reality is that living the Christian life by our own rules is a dangerous proposition; it opens the door for Satan to draw us slowly away from God, or for us to become proud of our Christian life and slip away from God while thinking we are something special.

Today, many believers justify their actions by saying, “The Bible does not specifically prohibit it, so I can do it if I want to.” Or they say. “We are now under the New Covenant and have been freed from all that Old Testament stuff.” Their words show they don’t realize what type of relationship exists between God and man. They don’t understand what carries over to the New Covenant and what doesn’t. Pushing everything from the Former Covenant aside is not the answer.

The erroneous assumption that we establish a relationship with God leads us to think that we can also decide what that relationship is going to look like. This mentality is directly opposed to how a covenant functions. At best it will lead to spiritual mediocrity, but it is more likely to lead to self-destruction.


Here are a few examples of things we do not have the freedom to change, without risking the consequence of being taken the wrong direction spiritually.

Setting aside special time to connect with God through Bible reading and prayer at least once a day is not an option, it is a condition of the covenant. We can’t ignore that covenant condition because we are too busy to read and pray every day.

Setting aside one day per week to enjoy time with God and family is not an option, it is a requirement. If we want to be a part of God’s covenant, we need to follow its conditions; we can’t move the goal posts just because we think the one day a week thing is nonsense.

We do not get to choose whom we should love; we are told to love everyone.

Tithing is not optional; it is a covenant condition (commanded in the Former Covenant and assumed in the New Covenant). If we want to be faithful followers of His covenant, we must tithe. Period.

Witnessing to others about our faith is not something we can leave for others that have a gift in that area; we are all expected to do this in whatever way fits our personalities, abilities, and blend of gifts.

We do not get to choose (or let the world choose) what kind of clothes we wear; He has already told us to wear clothes that are modest and do not call attention to our bodies.

We cannot decide that looking at someone of the opposite sex in a lustful way is normal and therefore OK.

We cannot choose to use our tongues to cut others down, or gossip; we must use our speech to build others up.

Brothers and sisters, we are in a covenant relationship with Almighty God the creator of all things. He sets the rules. He determines what our relationship with Him should look like. We should not give ourselves the freedom to change the rules or move the goal posts.

In a technical sense, our only choices are to follow what He has established, or turn our backs on Him. In a real-life sense, there is the third option of trying to live the Christian life our own way. Much of the time that third option results in slow spiritual death.

God does not knock us down dead if we fail to live up to some aspects of His standard, however, if we continually choose to ignore aspects of His standard that we know we should follow, we will die a slow spiritual death. The end is the same, only the timing is different.

Those that are trying to be a Christian and enjoy the world at the same time, and those who want to do it their own way instead of fully following what God has established, are on very thin ice. God can sort all that out because He sees the heart. But in reality, the way this thing is supposed to work is we say “yes” to God and then we throw ourselves unreservedly into follow everything He has instructed us to do.

I encourage each of you to allow God to search your heart. He will reveal to you the true condition of your relationship with Him.

The next lesson in all three series on Covenants is: What Carries Over to the New Covenant and What Doesn’t?