Years ago I had singular pleasure of hosting a radio show I had
named "principles to live by".
It was a simple approach. How to live life according to God's Word.
Though I still emphatically believe that we must live our lives by scriptural
principles there is an often overlooked but vital element needed for scriptural
principles to work. That is the person of Jesus.
We can seek to know Jesus through His principles without really knowing Him very much the same way Israel wanted to wanted to know what God required of them at mount Sinai without facing Him.
When we over look the person behind the principle we tend to seek Jesus by reading theology & studying doctrine. Studying the Bible becomes the main thing. What Jesus said then gets put in a test tube synthesized & pasteurized into concepts for self help and daily living. The Christian landscape becomes filled with arguments of who is right & wrong. Some have a relationship with the Bible, but not with Jesus.
The Pharisees had a relationship with the narrative of Abraham but not with God. There is almost an overdose today on Paul's teachings to the point where you wonder where Jesus is. A friend with a PhD in New Testament theology made this observation in an article he wrote titled "Give Jesus equal space to". He noted that it is dangerous to focus on the "how tos" of Paul's God inspired doctrine without the Christ of the gospels.
Principles aren't wrong as long as they come from knowing the Christ they emanate from.
Principles are needed as there would be those who would claim they only "follow Jesus" not words on a page. This fatal flaw has lead to self deception and lack of accountability.
When the person of Jesus is the bed rock of our principles it keeps us from becoming "puffed up" and thinking that we are in control. Principles alone can have this adverse effect. We are obsessed with knowing the answer to the questions that plague us. So we go on this quest to create the perfect system that like a net will capture all the answers and systematize them into a system we can contain.
But just when you think you have a principle down God BLOWS YOUR MIND.
Leonard Sweet in sharing about the need for "Mystery" (not not having to know all the answers) quoted C.S. Lewis in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Of Aslan. “He'll be coming and going" he had said. "One day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down--and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”