Sunday, May 11, 2008

Boundaries and Freedom (2)

In my first post, I noted that boundaries, properly placed, actually promote freedom for man, rather than hinder it. God places boundaries for man that promote the greatest freedom for us. This shouldn't be a surprise, because God knows everything about human nature, and He also knows the entire history and future of the world and everybody in it, so His boundaries are the best ones.

Some boundaries that God gives are absolute. "Thou shalt not commit murder." Others are a bit vague, like, "Do not get drunk with wine." (Ephesians 5:18) What does it mean to get drunk? One drink? Two? Twelve? Any alcohol at all? Boundaries like this require work on our part. They also might require work on other people's part for us. God gives us the responsibility of knowing ourselves well enough to know our own limits. Other people can know these things, too, and hold us to those limits because they love us. If God gives us a boundary, but lets us establish exactly within a range where that boundary goes, then He isn't going to be very harsh in letting us stumble a few times during the process of establishing that boundary.

Jesus said that if our hand causes us to stumble, cut it off, and if our eye causes us to stumble, pluck it out. It's interesting that He's instructing us in this with the understanding that we already know something causes us to stumble. He's not condemning us for having stumbled, but only if we repeat the stumbling with full knowledge of our stumbling. This is merciful. He's not an overly protective mother that doesn't allow her child to learn from his mistakes, but knows that the cuts and bruises of having stumbled will have a greater affect on our growing. Many boundaries that God gives us are to be set by us ourselves; He doesn't have a "one size fits all" set of rules.


  1. If God wants us to recognize a boundary doesn't He guide us in that direction via the Holy Ghost?

  2. vache folle,

    I think you are right. God does mold us and shape us into the people He wants us to be including doing some things and not others.

    But He also uses His law to make us recognize boundaries. In His Holy Word he gives us law (do, or do not) and promises.

    That is what's so important about not watering down His law. We need it full strength (as in the sermon on the mount) so that the law can crush us to our own religious projects and self righteousness.
    Then the gospel can go to work on us.


    - Steve Martin