God is a loving Father to His children. We become His child when we believe in Christ Jesus, and receive Him as our Lord and Savior. The Bible says:
But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. (John†1:12)
Because God loves us, He gives us laws to live by, that we may experience all the good things He wants to give us. His laws, statues, and commandments keep us safe from sin and itís consequences. His word tells us:
Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee. (Jeremiah†31:3)
Thou shalt keep therefore His statutes, and His commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever. (Deut.†4:40)
For many of us, Godís laws are just a long list of thou shalt notís. We see His laws as hindrances to our pleasures and enjoyment of life. We lack the spiritual maturity to realize that Godís laws are given to us, not to keep us from enjoying our lives, but for our protection. In keeping them, we actually enjoy life more, because we do not have to worry about the consequences of breaking those laws.
I often compare His laws and statutes to a tall, strong fence surrounding the yard. As His child, I can play freely in the yard, without cares or worries, because that fence surrounds me and protects me. It keeps me from running out into the street, where a passing car may hit me. No ungodly person can snatch me away from my yard or harm me. Big, mean animals running loose canít scratch or bite me. My Father watches over me and keeps me safe from all harm.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: He shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore. (Psalm†121:7-8)
That fence keeps me near the house, so I donít have to go searching if I get tired or thirsty or hungry. My Father knows exactly what I need, and He meets my every need. I donít have to keep trying to get my own needs met in various ways. I can always get a good meal, a nice warm bath, and my own soft, warm bed when I am weary and need to rest. I always have someone who loves me, who comforts me, lifts me up and encourages me. I can hear my Fatherís voice when He calls to me.
But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philipians†4:19)
Thatís what Godís laws are like: a strong fence around His children, protecting them from the wickedness of the world. Too often, however, we view the fence in an entirely different way. We see it as an obstacle to our freedom. It keeps us from doing what we want to do. We donít see God as our loving Father; rather, we think of Him as a strict disciplinarian, who is always looking for a chance to punish us. We think He is trying to control us, and just doesnít want us to have any fun.
When your thoughts are wrong to begin with, your actions will be wrong, also. As a result of our wrong thinking, we spend all our time trying to climb over the fence, dig under it, go around it, or just knock it down. We donít realize that the fence is there for our safety and protection, and that without it, we are prey for the enemy of our soul. And wrong thoughts and actions always lead to the wrong end.
As we get over, under, around, or through the fence to follow our own hearts, we find ourselves falling into all kinds of sin. The Bible warns us:
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (Mark†7: 21-23)
The Bible warns us that the enemy outside the fence wants to steal, kill, and destroy us in any way he can. He will steal our innocence, steal our safety and security, steal our peace of mind, and destroy our joy. He promises far more than he can ever deliver. And because he is a liar, everything he promises to be good turns out to be bad.
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. (John†10:10a)
God is our only protection against such an enemy. Without Godís protection, or outside of the fence of safety provided by Godís laws, the enemy eventually ends up devouring us like a wild animal.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter†5:8)
The price of our so-called "freedom" outside of the fence is estrangement from our loving Heavenly Father, and bondage to the enemy. The consequences of our "freedom" are devastation and destruction in our lives that affects those around us, leading finally to death and condemnation.
We get farther and farther away from our Fatherís voice, until we canít even hear when He calls us. Instead, we follow the enemy, and he becomes our father. He lures us into all manner of sinful things. We know, somewhere deep down inside us, these things will harm us, but we want to try them anyway. The enemy makes them look like such great fun, such an exciting adventure. He is such a liar!
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John†8:44)
Then we suffer the consequences of our own rebellion and disobedience. We often fall down and scrape our knees and break our bones, we get cuts and bruises, but weíre too far away for our Father to gently clean and bandage our wounds so that they can heal. We sometimes try to doctor them up ourselves, but that never lasts long. Our wounds get infected, and just keep getting worse and worse.
Outside the fence, we are right into the paths of wicked persons. Bad people come along and take advantage of us in any number of ways. We have no protection against them, because we are outside of the fence. We somehow fail to understand that the same fence that keeps us in, keeps evil persons out. When we step outside the fence, we are surrounded by wickedness. We often make friends with them, and follow their ways, even thought the Bible warns:
Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. (Proverbs†4:14)
Outside the fence, we get tired and thirsty and hungry, and seek all kinds of things to satisfy our needs. Nothing ever quite satisfies, however, so we keep seeking more and more, bigger and better. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Finally we end up in bondage, a slave to our appetites and habits.
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Romans†6:16)
When we are spiritually immature, we do not understand all these things. In fact, we CANNOT understand these things. It is only when we walk in the Spirit, that is, in the Spirit of God, that we begin to understand the ways of God. We cannot walk in the Spirit unless we are a child of God. Until then, we canít possibly have any true understanding of the things of God.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Cor. 2:14)
As we begin to seek God, we begin to grow in wisdom and understanding, and then we learn to be grateful for the fences He has set in place to protect us, even from ourselves. When we realize that God alone is Sovereign, pure, and holy, and that He loves us enough to give us what we NEED instead of what we think we want, then we learn to fear God, and begin to become spiritually mature.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs†9:10)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs†1:7)
For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs†2:6)
When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul;
discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee (Proverbs†2:10-11)
Are you starting to get the picture? The commandments and laws God gives us are actually Godís fences around us. They are His way of protecting His children, just as we protect our own children when they are babies and cannot help themselves. He places them there so that we might have the abundant life He wants for His children, and we shouldnít spend so much of our lives trying to get around them.
God's plan for His children is always what is best for us. How many hearts have been broken, how many tears have been shed, how many lives have been ruined, because we want to follow our own path, instead of staying within the protective boundaries of God's Word. He is ready, willing, and able to protect His children, but they have to be willing to stay within the boundaries He has set. They have to stay inside the fence.
Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Eph†3:20-21)
I can tell you from personal experience: life is not that great outside the fence. All the things we think are so much fun, all the things we think we'll miss out on, are things that only hurt us. Don't just take my word for it: ask anyone who has tasted their so-called "freedom". "I Did It My Way" may be a popular song, but doing it our own way only leads us to heartache, tears, pain, guilt, and suffering. We have to be willing to do it God's way. If you are truly wise, you will learn, as I finally have: DONíT JUMP THE FENCE!