Rule Book or Play Book?

January 17, 2023

In a recent Bible study, a friend of mine who was leading it asked the question, do we see the Bible as a rule book or as a playbook (Like football and other sports teams use to design and run plays to win the game). He went on to say that a football coach has to teach the players the rules of the game but he also has to have a play book to show the players what plays they need to learn and run.

As I thought about this analogy it occurred to me that when we look at the Bible it has to be a balance of BOTH a rule book and a play book. We certainly need to know the rules in order to live and function in the world and in the Kingdom of God. But if all we ever focus on is the rules and trying to keep all of the rules on our own – then we become legalistic.

We either feel superior to other people who are not keeping all of the rules as well as us. That may lead us to feel superior and we condemn them. This actually leads us to be breaking one of the rules about not thinking too highly of ourselves and inviting the sin of pride. OR when we focus on the rules so hard, we quickly learn that we can’t keep all of the rules on our own so we feel defeated and discouraged.

The good news is that God doesn’t want us to keep all of the rules on our own. He wants us to allow the Holy Spirit to change us from the rule breakers that we are into new creations that allow the Holy Spirit to keep them through us as we surrender to His authority. This involves grace and mercy from God when we do break the rules but also repentance on our part to discipline ourselves to not break the rules again.

We also must follow the play book that comes from the Bible. If we read, study, memorize, and live what the Bible teaches us then we find that living the Christian life is a whole lot easier. God has an overall play book (Plan) for all of humanity. It is His will that everyone would surrender their lives to Him and become saved. That way we can run the plays that He has for us in order to have victory and defeat our enemy of Satan and his team of demons.

God also has an individual play book (Plan) for each of us. An offensive tackle doesn’t do the same job as a Quarterback on a play. But they both have to do their job in order for the play to be successful. God doesn’t call everyone to be a defensive guard or a running back. So the calling that He gives us as we join His team is important for us to find out what part He is calling us to do.

Teamwork is important in any sport, workplace, church, or life. We must follow the rules but also call on grace, mercy and practice repentance when we fail to follow the rules. We must also ask others to forgive us or grant forgiveness to others in order to not cause division in the team.

When we follow the rules, we find that executing the play book is much easier and profitable, not only to us but for others on the team and everyone else that we encounter. We need to be an encourager and support those on the team that may be breaking the rules or ones that have been hurt by the rules being broken.

Get saved and join God’s team. Read the Bible as a rule book and learn the rules. Ask forgiveness for the rules that you have broken and ask God to fill you with the Holy Spirit so that you will sin less and less as you work with the team. But also read the Bible as a play book to see what position God is calling you to do on the team. There is no greater joy than working together with a team of God’s people and seeing the enemy defeated. This happens best when the power of God is working through you and the team in one accord.

In love with Jesus – Gary Mimbs

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