Like guardrails on mountain passes
God’s commands will protect us, not restrict us
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“The first duty of every soul is to find not its freedom but its Master” (P.T. Forsyth, 19th-century Scottish theologian).
But who wants a master? The answer is: You do if you know what’s good for you. Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson (not yet a Christian) has 40,000 hours of counseling under his belt, and here is what he says he learned from all that listening to people:
“You don’t get away with anything. You might think you can bend the fabric of reality … and violate your conscience without cost. But that is just not the case; you will pay the piper. When you pay, you might not even notice the causal connection between the sin and the payment. … People’s lives take a twist, and they go very badly wrong. And when you walk back through people’s lives with them, you come to these choice points where you meet the devil at the crossroads, and you find out that you went left, let’s say, and downhill, when you should have gone right and uphill. And now you’re paying the price for that.”
I thought back on my own life and realized he’s right. And if I were 14 again, I would ruin my life all over again because I didn’t know my Master. Paul says, “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death” (Romans 6:21).
“Hold on!” I hear someone say. “They told us in church that Jesus paid it all. How can you tell me, ‘You don’t get away with anything’? We are forgiven!” True, and yet while God forgave David, the king’s illicit child with Uriah’s wife still died. And God sent Nathan to ensure David knew that death was the price of his sin.
Jane Russell was a Hollywood sex symbol in the 1940s and ’50s. She ended up a Christian but learned the hard way that serving a Good Master was a much better deal than wallowing in so-called freedom. As a teenager near death from a back-alley abortion, she wrote:
“Mom had to be upset but, as usual, she was her totally calm self. She prayed for me and read the Bible. Every morning as I looked out on her beautiful garden, all I could see was the good Lord and how much He loved me in spite of myself. Mother said, ‘Daughter, the Ten Commandments are like the guardrails on the mountain passes. The Lord puts those white guardrails there to protect you, not to restrict you. Now if you crash through, you go over the side, but if you give Him all the pieces, He’ll put you back together.’ I did, and He slowly healed me. I had an infection and went for treatment every morning. Then I spent the rest of the day in bed. No one, but no one, could ever tell me again that there wasn’t a God and that I didn’t need Him” (Jane Russell: An Autobiography).
People don’t like the idea of commands because they think happiness is doing what they want to do. By which they mean following their urges. If you want a miserable, self-destructive life, go ahead and follow your urges. The Apostle Paul calls such a life being “taken captive by him to do [the devil’s] will” (2 Timothy 2:26).
What if the hilarious irony is that happiness comes through having a Master, not having freedom? What if God’s commands in the Bible are designed to create in us the character God wants us to bring into heaven? What if they take us on a journey where all our self-destructive tendencies are dealt with? Jesus our Savior becomes Jesus our Lord. His ways are a yoke to wear, side by side with him in the other collar, showing us the traces, and actually doing the heavy lifting, if we but yield to Him.
“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life” (Romans 6:22).
Call me a happy slave who’s found her Master.
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