The number one misconception people have about Jesus is they think he wasn’t interested in rules. That’s true, but it’s not because rules are immoral. It’s because rules are ineffective.


It’s not that Jesus didn’t care about virtue or morality. He cared about those things very much. He was tremendously virtuous, having never sinned. He never overlooked sin or pretended sin didn’t matter, and he never ignored it.


In fact, when Jesus spoke about morality, he was ten times harsher than his predecessors. For example, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away” (Matthew 5.30); “If your eye causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away” (Matthew 5.29); “It would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18.6).


The problem with “rules” is they can neither deal with sin nor keep us from sinning in the first place. Jesus called us to a higher set of rules, the law of the Holy Spirit that lives in us, because that’s more effective in inoculating us against the damaging temptation to sin and against the sin itself.


The moral rules most people concoct are—at best—guardrails to keep our lives on track until we learn to discover what the Spirit is saying in each moment. It’s foolish to tear down the guardrails. If you hate them, it’s probably because you keep crashing into them. In the beginning you need them. Once you get tuned into the voice of God’s Spirit, though, you won’t even notice they’re there. You’ll be living so fast, so true, so perfectly on course that you’ll even forget you were angry about the guardrails at all.