Douglas MacArthur was quoted as saying, "You are remembered for the rules you break." This has to be one of the most profound truths I have heard in quite some time. We go through life trying to "keep" all the rules, just about breaking our backs under the load of rules we think we must adhere to each and every day. Then, in an instant, at the blink of an eye, we "violate" one of those rules and what is it people remember - the endless hours and hours of "keeping" the rules, or the moment we "break" one? I daresay, it is more likely they remember our "variation" in performance than our consistency!
Through this man we all receive gifts of grace beyond our imagination. You see, Moses gave us rules to live by, but Jesus the Anointed offered us gifts of grace and truth. God, unseen until now, is revealed in the Voice, God’s only Son, straight from the Father’s heart. (John 1:16-18 VOICE)
I've tried to live by all the rules, and yes, they do keep me safer than when I choose to do something totally opposed to the "rules" by which I am designed to live. In a purely physical sense, I have an intolerance for sodium - my body just hoards it and puts on pounds and pounds of water in places water isn't meant to be. Whenever I eat a large intake of foods which are higher in sodium content than is reasonable for my body, I swell. To not endure the swelling, I have to live by the rule of staying pretty close to a low-sodium diet all the time. Even when I do, my body responds to the heat of day by sending fluids into spaces which leave me with swollen ankles, tight calves, and with rings fitting a little too tight. Variation from my low-sodium diet actually cost me a couple of "good days" to regain my body's "equilibrium".
The rule of limiting my sodium intake actually helps me "feel" better. It gives me less weight to carry around on my frame, and it doesn't overwork my heart, kidneys, etc., to get rid of the extra stuff I shouldn't have taken in. Try as I might, there are just times when I want chips with my sandwich, or a batch of fresh, hot french fries with my burger. It is as though they call my name! Now, I know chips and fries cannot call my name - they are inanimate objects - but they exert some "power" over me on occasion, getting me to yield to the temptation to "take them in". One thing is for sure - you pay the price when you are willing to break one of the rules! If rules are meant for our safety and protection, then why do we struggle so hard with keeping them? It may be we struggle so hard because the rule doesn't seem "totally worth it" when we compare the overriding desire pulling at us to respond by breaking the rule.
The rules are hard for us because we haven't learn to live totally by grace. You see, I can have a "little" sodium - that isn't all that bad for me and my body can handle it. I cannot take in a couple of grams of sodium in one meal, though! Grace allows me moderate intake - selfish desire pulls me toward an intake way too great for my body to handle. Sin is kind of like that in our lives - it is there all the while, just like the salt shaker. It isn't a problem for us until we think we are being denied something "good" or "desirable". Then we chafe against the thing we have been working so hard to resist. Grace doesn't allow me (or you) to dabble with sinful deeds, but it does make a way of perfect escape each time that thing we have been resisting tries to convince us to give into it! The more we learn to take the rules designed for our safety to God, asking him to give us the "grace" to live by them in a way which keeps us from "variations" we will regret, the more we will find ourselves able to resist those variations. Just sayin!