I often hear people say that Christianity is not about a bunch of do’s and don’ts, meaning that there is nothing expected of us. I understand one part of that concept.
We are not saved based on what we do. Salvation is a free gift from God that we did nothing to earn, and we do not have to perform to a high standard in order to keep our salvation.
But we cannot ignore the do’s and don’ts. To say that the Bible does not give a list of things to do and things to not do is absurd. Listen to how Randy Alcorn puts it in his book The Purity Principle,
“The Christian life is more than sin management. It’s divine transformation and enablement to live righteously. Yet Scripture commands us to do and not do certain things…(p.56)”
I went through just one book of the Bible, 1 Peter, and made a list of the commands. In addition to the commands that Peter gives, remember that Paul does the same thing in each of his letters, and Jesus Himself gave frequent commands, especially in the sermon on the mount.
So please read these commands that are listed just the way Peter wrote them, and please keep reading until the end, lest someone stop reading early and misunderstand me. The commands will be bolded.
v.13, “Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end…”
v.15 “As He which called you is holy, so be ye holy…”
v.22 “Love the brethren…”
v.1-2 “Lay aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and evil speakings. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word…”
v.5 “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
v.9 “Ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light.”
v.11-18 “Abstain from fleshly lusts…having your conversation honest…submit yourselves to every ordinance of man…honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. Servants, be subject to your masters…”
v.21 “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.”
v.24 “That we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness…”
v.1 “Ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands…”
v.7-12 “Husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife…be of one mind, having compassion…love as brethren, be pitiful (kindhearted), be courteous. Not rendering evil for evil…but blessing…let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips, that they speak no guile. Let him eschew evil and do good, let him seek peace and ensue it.”
v.15 “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you…”
v. 1-2 “Arm yourselves with the same mind [as Christ], for he that suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin, that he should no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”
v.7-10 “Be sober, and watch unto prayer. ..have fervent charity…use hospitality…minister the same [gift] one to another…”
v.15-16 “Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil doer, or as a busybody…let him glorify God…”
v.6-9 “Humble yourselves…casting all your care upon Him…be sober, be vigilant…resist [the devil]…”
v.14 “Greet one another with a kiss of charity…”
A simple reading of 1st Peter reveals that the apostle felt strongly about the do’s and don’ts of Christianity.
But please do not misunderstand me. I know the context of these epistles. Peter was writing to the church, and his message was NOT that they needed to do those things in order to be saved.
He was writing to people who already had been saved. In other words, he was writing to Christians.
And he gave the Christians a ton of do’s and don’ts.
Becoming a Christian is not about do’s and don’ts, but living like a Christian is.
I don’t write the way that I do so that unsaved people will conform to biblical morality; I write the way that I do to remind the church that we have been called to a higher standard of life.
Or to use Peter’s words: “Ye (the church) are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9).”
We can’t do that if we ignore the do’s and don’ts.