When a lot of people think about believing in Jesus, they think about religion, and when they think about religion, they think about the phrase, “Thou shalt not …” Many people reject Christ out of hand before they even explore what He offers because, in their minds, they are already pondering what they would have to give up.
In their book, Everyday Church, authors Tim Chester and Steve Timmis perceptively note that telling somebody, “You should not sleep with your boyfriend,” or “You should not get drunk,” is not proclaiming the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ.[i] They correctly point out that, for somebody already struggling with a drinking problem, for example, “You should not get drunk,” comes across as further condemnation, not as good news.
John 3:17 says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” People need to be rescued from drunkenness. Even secular, government-produced public service announcements acknowledge this. Ultimately, nothing good comes from drunkenness, and the one who gets drunk already knows this deep down inside.
The drunk knows that he has lost something precious when he beats his family, and then they run away. The intoxicated driver knows that he is a murderer when he runs into a random jogger and cuts short her life.
But this post is not a rant against drunks or drunkenness. Instead, it’s a declaration of deliverance through Jesus Christ.
God doesn’t make random rules. Jesus Christ is not out to purge life of all fun, enjoyment, and happiness. Quite the opposite! The laws of God arise from the very nature of God. God says, “You shall not steal,” (Genesis 20:15), for example, because He is a God of love. Taking what belongs to someone else is not a loving thing to do. Also, as a loving God, He wants to provide for us everything that we really need. When we steal, we deny God’s love, His wisdom regarding what we need, and His power to provide what He knows we need. In short, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to be served by the very God who created us, the God who owns all the resources of this planet that He made.
To quote Chester and Timmis again,
What the gospel says is this: …You need not get drunk, because Jesus offers a better refuge; You need not lose your temper, because God is in control of the situation. That is good news! Sin makes promises. The gospel exposes those promises as false promises and points to a God who is bigger and better than anything sin offers. That is good news.[ii]
It is true that many people have embraced belief in Jesus Christ mainly to escape the eternal consequences of our sin. And Jesus most definitely has purchased our eternal security. (Romans 5:9) He frees us from a destiny in hell. (Romans 8:1)
At the same time, in this life, Jesus Christ offers the believer release from those habits and strongholds that, at one time, may have seemed to serve our personal desires well, but which now master us. (Romans 6:5-14)
If you find yourself today a slave to greed, envy, lust, anger, or bitterness, Jesus makes you an offer you may not have heard till this point—not “Thou shall not,” but rather, “You need not!” Turn to Him, and find liberation, peace, and a sweeter life than you have ever known!