The talk that I have recommended at the end of this post begins by describing a father whose son has just learnt to walk. Conscious that this freedom opens up a world of danger for his son, the father teaches his son, out of love, the danger of electricity – warning him not to ever touch the plug socket. The next morning, the father peers from behind his newspaper to see his son looking around to check no one is watching… before putting his fingers in the plug socket!
9 months old and this little boy was already a rebel against authority. Just Adam and Eve eating the fruit after God had told them not to, so that little child disobeyed his father when he was told not to touch. After disobedience to God entered the world; God gave us laws to follow to show us how we might live in the way that is both pleasing to Him and best for us.
The problem is as humans we often look at the laws or boundaries God has given us and decide that He is a party-pooper and the rules are there to be broken. We feel restricted and suppose living within the limits will be dull and boring.
One of my favourite analogies illustrates this well. Supposing a fish believed the sea in which he swam was a restriction and he swam to the land to find freedom. There is a far more fun and exciting life to be had on the other side of the water – so he thinks. When the fish reaches the land he flails about on the sand for a while and eventually dies. It was only within the limits of the water that he was truly free.
Living within the boundaries that God has given us means we can be truly free because we will be living as God created us to live.
The laws of God also serve another purpose; they reveal our sin. As Romans 3:20 explains, “For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” Obedience to God’s law does not earn us our salvation but disobedience to it does show where we have sinned.
So, God’s laws and boundaries are for our good and they too reveal when we step outside what is right for us. The big question is; where is the hope if God tells us the best way to live and yet we can never perfectly live this way? Our lawlessness is so deeply soaked into our hearts that alone we are hopeless in rescuing ourselves from it.
This is where the third purpose of law comes in – it proves our need for a saviour, someone who can take our place and follow God perfectly. Galatians 3:23-24 says “…we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ”.
I struggle to think that we claim to know what is best for ourselves even though God is our creator and he knows us better than we know ourselves. What is more, even after seeing time after time examples of how our own way leads to trouble we still continue to go back to breaking the rules! Thank God that though we continue to turn away from his best ways he has purified our heart through Jesus and we will not be accountable for our sin. Let us use this amazing truth to be overwhelmingly humbled and want to do what God commands.
Rescued from Failure by Paul Tripp on the solution to our desire to go our own way.
The next time (in fact anytime!) you feel tempted that it is better or more fun to break the rules, keep in mind the analogy of the fish, remembering that God lovingly gives us boundaries to enable us to be truly free and to live as He created us to live. Thank God that there is hope found in Jesus who takes our place as the perfect law follower.
Sarah lives in Cambridge with her wonderful Husband Howai. She works as a midwife at Addenbrookes and also is doing some research at Cambridge Uni. Her loves include design, writing, animals, singing, flowers, naps and girly time.