By Jenniffer Mann
Put in simple terms, Rules of Engagement (ROE) traditionally refers to what soldiers can and cannot do whilst engaged in battle. In a highly charged situation, the potential for miscommunication, leading to the unnecessary use of force, is very high. The commander therefore, will use ROE as a means of regulating that force. Where ROE is incorrectly applied, innocent civilians become casualties.
Rules of Engagement is a term that has been popularised to explain what is deemed as acceptable behaviour in many different types of situations, ranging from the boardroom to social media. These rules define what is an acceptable form of conduct when stepping into that particular arena.
Last week I had a conversation with someone who directly asked me the question, ‘How do I repent?’ The answer to this can be found in the bible, which clearly explains the Rules of Engagement on how we conduct ourselves with God, each other and the ensuing spiritual warfare.
I responded that the key to repentance was understanding our true condition before God and completely humbling ourselves in the belief the death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, who died for our sins, is the only way we can be forgiven. This is the start of a relationship that requires daily nurturing.
This is a Rule of Engagement that is inflexible. In fact, in Mark 1:15 we read,
“…The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
I went on to explain that repenting means to confess our sins. In 1 John 1:9 we read,
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Confession of our sins is key to repentance and with that confession comes contrition.
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”Psalm 51
Unlike some belief systems that teach atonement can be given by man, only God has the power to forgive us of our sins. We cannot work our way into the kingdom of heaven with good deeds. God does not look for eloquence in our prayers, just sincerity and a willingness to surrender to God’s will. Rules of Engagement invariably are met with some form of penalty if not applied. We saw that when President Trump recently had his social media accounts suspended.
Thankfully, because God is so patient, merciful and gracious, once He has removed the penalty of sin (justification), the transformative process of moulding us and setting us apart as a believer of God begins (sanctification). This transformative process is not necessarily the same for each person, although we all strive to be living examples of Jesus’ character and this takes continuous prayer and studying the bible (God’s word) to understand who Jesus is.
Providing we follow the Rules of Engagement, we will be equipped with all the knowledge we need to have a loving, long lasting and fruitful relationship with God. The ultimate penalty for not abiding by the rules, is eternal separation from God. We therefore become a casualty of not following the Rule of Engagement.
As we touched on in our previous article, the immediate effects of estrangement from God, is spiritual dissonance but the joy that comes from the knowing you will spend eternity with God, is a feeling unmatched by any other.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” … They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.“John 5:24
The simple Rule of Engagement in that passage is hearing and believing and the promised outcome is to not face condemnation. As you go through this week, I encourage you to pick up God’s word and read the passage below. Ask your yourself what the Rule of Engagement is and how you can action that today.
“For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him Shall not perish but have everlasting life.”John 3:16
Dear Father, please teach me the true meaning of repentance and how I should conduct myself in my relationship with you and in life, that I may always reflect Jesus. Amen