I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.Psalm 119:45 (NLT)
Rules are made to be broken. Or, so I’ve been told many, many times in life. It’s a concept that many truly believe. Rules confine us. Rules restrict us. Rules ruin our lives. Rules make us feel confined, imprisoned even. Rules only seek to keep us from experiencing life to its fullest. At least, that’s what we’ve been told, thought, or experienced.
Often times this thought process translates over to our view of God. There are a lot of rules, regulations, commandments, given throughout the pages of Scripture. These are God’s directions for how we are to relate to Him, to our fellow humans, and basically all of the earth. I can certainly testify that there are commands in the Bible that I don’t particularly like – not because they are wrong, but because they show me that I am. I would argue that the commands of God found in Scripture are one of the reasons people don’t want to be part of our faith community. However, this is because their view of God’s rules is incorrect.
We have this crazy verse today that literally says that by devoting ourselves to God’s commandments, we walk in freedom. How can that possibly be? Rules are meant to restrain life, not set it free! This is madness! And, I would agree.
If we only take the rules at face value, and connect rule-keeping with salvation, or earning God’s favor, then we are not walking in freedom. We are slaves to the commands.
However, when we are in a relationship with Jesus Christ, the reason for the rules comes into focus. The rules don’t exist to earn our salvation or make God like us. (He loves us unconditionally. See Romans 8.) The rules are there to help develop a stronger relationship with Jesus and His creation. The commands are issued so that we don’t chase after the things that God knows will destroy us and our relationship with Him. They are given for our good.
When we understand that God’s instructions to us are born out of a loving relationship, we experience freedom. How? We don’t have to worry about anything. We don’t have to worry about our salvation. We don’t have to worry about the afterlife. We don’t have to worry about the forgiveness of our sins. In short, walking with God, following His directions for our life, frees us from doubt and worry, and replaces it with peace and joy. We experience freedom.