There is an idea we get that as believers, a little bit of 'law' can actually help us be more godly. (Terry Virgo does an EXCELLENT job of dealing with this on his Lavish Grace tour ) I recently heard someone ask, "If we don't have a rule about how much to give, won't we give less than we should?" , the implication being we are terrible sinners just trying to follow the rules the best we can. But it actually the opposite.
Romans 7:5,10 "For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death."
"The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me."
The law is good, and it has a good purpose--to bring us to the feet of Christ our Saviour. But it is utterly foolish to go back. We have been adopted as sons of God himself, why would we go back to slavery? It seems to be the nature of man, to choose the familiar miserable over the unknown good. It's a lack of faith in our good God. And that is the key: faith.
Romans 14:23 "For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin."
So part of the problem is , we don't even reallly understand what sin is most of the time. We still look to the law to show us what sin looks like, but the law is better at giving us a detailed description of the outward manifestation of sin. Jesus came and peeled back the outward and revealed to us the heart of sin. And then Paul taught us through the Holy Spirit, that it's all about faith in Jesus and his work. Anything we accomplish apart from the power of the Holy Spirit falls far short. Even if it were possible to follow the law, or Jonathon Edwards' 70 Resolutions, or your own new year's resolutions, or the application points of all your pastor's sermons...you would be utterly doomed. Your pride would kick in and you would boldly come before God wearing your own filthy rags and he would banish you forever. We are saved through faith alone. And we sanctified by the Spirit we received by faith. If we try to move on in the law, we are in grave danger of "falling from grace" like the Galatians. (Galatians 5:4)
Why am I so hung up on legalism? Because I need to remind myself constantly of the truth about it. It is deadly, and Satan knows it, so it is one of his favorite lies to tempt us with. And what to we do with these flaming darts? We hold up our shield of faith to quench them. (Ephesians 6:16)
What I really want is the fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:23-24 "...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control...And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
The fruit of the Spirit...not the fruit of the law.