Recently, we've been discussing two dangerous extremes in following God.
One is legalism. Legalism involves rules. We set rules to keep us away from "bad" and direct us to "good." They give us a way to demonstrate that we are good and evaluate where we stand in comparison with others (and God). We can watch someone and give them an "attaboy" or "tisk, tisk" - whichever is required.
Second is license. License involves a lack of rules or accountability. Essentially, the guiding idea is "I want to do it, therefore I am." This is the idea that God is loving and wouldn't punish sin. Often, it doesn't even deal with sin. The basic idea is "I'm going to do it because that's what I want to do!" If you want to see a quick picture, watch a three year old for a few hours - you'll get the idea.
The problem is that the rules are often manufactured in response to some excess or struggle that we want to "weed out." Therefore, we outlaw any foray into that area. There is no consideration for the individual believer - their conscience, past experience/struggles, strengths and weaknesses, etc. Also, there is a tendency to go beyond even the guidelines that God has given. In a sense, we can throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Why do we do it? One reason is because we're lazy. Unbalanced positions don't require discernment. You don't have to be informed completely or ask difficult questions. You just have to have a verse or two (or even just an opinion) and off you go!
Discernment is difficult and takes work, but it is the pathway to enjoying God.
". . . find out what pleases the Lord. . . Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. Ephesians 5:10,15-16
Where are some areas that you've experienced the struggle of license and legalism?