There is a big difference and the agendas that motivate from these two drastically different places are worlds apart.
A life of rule keeping is motivated by fear. The most love distorting fear is the fear of God. Yes, I do believe that. I know the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. But I think the kicker in that passage of scripture, which most of us have failed to understand is, it is the BEGINNING of wisdom. Fear never perfects love in us. Perfect love casts out fear. For those who still fear, the work of God's love is not being work out in them. Law keeping is driven by a fear of what will happen to us if we don't jump through these hoops. Law keeping (which everyone but Christ, has proven we are not good at) was a tool in which God used to prove this very point to mankind. We don't do well trying to live within forced boundaries.
Often folks use children to speak of the constant testing of boundaries. It is a good example. But we adults need to get really real about this. Adults are even worse at it. We are just better at disguising our law breaking tendencies. Unless something happens deep in our hearts.
If that transformation doesn't happen, we just move on to rule breaking that we can hide. We might obey the speed limit but we get angry at someone who cuts us off in traffic. We might not steal but we will exploit people to get what we want. We might not commit adultery but lust still resides in the heart and mind. We might not look or act like control freaks but everything that we do is an attempt to get our way with people and situations. We in the Church are appalled at sexual sins but over-look the greed, gossip, back-biting, and hunger for power that is so corrupting our relationships with each other. This is what law keeping produces. This is the life we get, living in the land of religious rule keeping. And I will be as bold to say this; IT PRODUCES NOTHING ELSE!!!!!! It is shallow, it is not what God in Christ paid such a high price for. IT IS THE VERY THING HE DESIRES TO DELIVER US FROM.
A life hidden with Christ in God is not about religious rule keeping. It is about setting us free from the condition that makes us law breakers. Living life out in an alternate story other than what God designed for us, will always create disastrous results. Just look around. The Mainstream Church is suffering under it just like those outside of any pursuit of God are. If we deny the condition of the church and ourselves I mentioned above, we have our heads so buried in the mud we are suffocating.
There is great news though. We have a patient, loving, gracious and merciful God. If you all haven't noticed, He doesn't seem to be whacking anybody right now. I'm not getting whacked when I fall short of the mark. I am not perfected yet. If God is about judgement for law breakers, I should get whacked when I make mistakes(sin). Instead, He wraps those loving arms around me and says: "Kent, I know how to rescue you from that. I made a way for you to be freed from that twist in your life that doesn't reflect my nature. It's found in the life that is hidden with Christ in Me."
What law keeping could never do, God accomplished in the life, death and resurrection of the son. We are invited into this awesome mystery that is so far beyond rule keeping. In this land of the life hidden with Christ in God, the law becomes promise. When we find the unconditional love of God being worked out in us we will not want to do any of these things any more and in Him we find the power of the spirit that will make it so. He can crush that old law breaking man I once was a slave to. Life in Him becomes a life focused on the spirit. The spirit is not law, it is LIFE and FREEDOM. The land of law keeping, is a life focused on the flesh. I think it was the Apostle Paul that said, a life focused on the flesh is what produces death in us.
Let's get on with living the life hidden with Christ in God. We can't produce this, so don't try. Get to know the One who has made it possible and wants to free you from the tyranny of law keeping..