I took this photo recently at a Staples store because it reminded of the scripture in Romans 5:20, The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. The photo is a great illustration that rules have a way of making us want to break them.
I read a post in the Harvard Business Review this week claiming NFL owners can’t manage their players without better rules. Their answer to the criminal behavior of players is to add more rules! Do these players not know that beating your wife or driving while intoxicated is wrong? Are more rules the answer?
I would think that adding more rules is like putting a Band-Aid on cancer. It may give the league a feeling that they are doing something, a feeling of control, but it doesn’t solve the problem.
The Pharisees during Jesus' time had a similar solution to problems. They were the religious policemen of the time and they made sure the hundreds of laws and rules were obeyed. But Jesus knew that their pious actions were a smoke screen to hide their depraved hearts. Jesus didn't mince words. "Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean." Matthew 23:26
We learn in the New Testament that without God's grace and transformational power to change us, the law commands without supplying a motive to obey. In fact, it creates a feeling of rebellion within and we are compelled to break the law for no reason. Adam and Eve disobeyed God's first commandment and humans haven't changed. We are still breaking rules and disobeying laws.
The two ways we maintain a society of law and order are to either instill a morality from within or impose a set of rules and regulations from the outside. So a person will either act in a civil manner because of what they have been instilled to believe (from inside) or because of the fear of punishment if they are caught violating the law (outside).
Our society tries to change people from the outside by creating laws because government has no power to transform the inner life. So we learn to conform from the outside. All we have to do is to put on the facade of obedience, just like the Pharisees. We learn to talk alike, act alike, think alike, keep the outside clean! We find ways to break the law without getting caught. If we don't get caught, keep the outside looking good, we must be okay, even though we have enmity in our hearts!
More rules without dealing with the root cause is only a bandaid solution. It could actually make the problem worse. Until we can change the inner man, we will be struggling with the same bad behavior over and over. And as Paul tells us, only the law of the Spirit can overcome the law of sin and death. Faith in Christ is a much better antidote than more laws. Unfortunately, our authorities have pretty much abandoned this solution so I guess we are stuck with more rules.