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Liberty, Not License

(Galatians 5:1-15)

Lesson 12 -- second quarter 2002
May 19, 2002

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2002, Christian Light Publications

Liberty or limits -- which is your choice?

So many people understand freedom to be a complete lack of limits and restrictions. When they think of liberty, they think of doing whatever they wish without any guidelines or obstructions getting in the way of their lives. They resent the notion of rules and submission, because they imagine such things stealing their liberty. If you speak of fettered freedom, they accuse you of hypocrisy, bondage, or legalism. But these same people love limits, they just seem not to have paused to realize that truth.

They appreciate yellow lines, traffic lights, and rules of the road that keep other drivers from smashing into them or running over them. If you told them neither they nor anyone else need bother with the silly notion of driving on the right side of the road, they wouldn't cheer and party in the name of liberty. More likely than not, should such freedom of the road become the norm, they would stay off the streets and highways. Talk about being in bondage! Yet they insist that Christian liberty means no bounds. That kind of "liberty" is bondage itself!

They appreciate laws and societal restrictions that refuse people the liberty to taken another's property or destroy their belongings. If tomorrow the concept of personal property were junked, these folks wouldn't celebrate the dawn of a new age of social and personal freedom. No, I'm certain that instead they would look for a more restrictive place in which to live or would at least barricade themselves in their homes. Again, because of "freedom" they would find themselves in bondage. Nevertheless, they fail to see that spiritually, a similar reality exists. They proclaim that no one can or should deprive them of their freedom in Christ.

Patrick Henry proclaimed, "Give me liberty, or give me death." I understand the point he was making, and I think it is a good point. But without limits, his proclamation becomes, "Give me liberty, and give me death." Perhaps another way to say it is, "Give me limits, or give me death."

Surely we can see that limit-free liberty is not liberty at all. Surely we can understand that genuine liberty is restricted. So, back to my lead question. What is your choice? How will you live? I call you to choose liberty . . . and limits!

Don't be so negative!

Let's look at liberty and limits from another angle. When the law says, "Do not kill," is it presenting a negative or a positive? Come now, that isn't such a difficult question, is it? I mean, you see that not there, right? So that makes it a negative law. Maybe; maybe not. Interestingly, I've never heard anyone complaining about that law, "Oh, there you go being negative again. You just like to tell people what they can't or shouldn't do. Why can't you be more positive? All this negativity is bad. Lighten up!" No, people don't respond to "Do not kill" that way. Do you know why not? Because they realize that if that law keeps a potential killer from killing them, that law is extremely positive. In other words, they see a positive personal benefit in a "negative" law.

Now think of some other "negative" Biblical commands. For example:

      • "Thou shalt not commit adultery" (Exodus 20:14).

      • "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth" (Matthew 6:19).

      • "Speak not evil one of another" (James 4:11).

You won't have to think for long before seeing that these are extremely positive despite sounding negative. Don't allow anyone to mislead you!

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