Bible Verse: “I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.” 2 Corinthians 1:6
How many times have we been driving along when we see someone changing lanes without signalling, or making a turn from the wrong lane? I’ve even seen an accident happen because someone’s magic turn signal had failed to create an open spot in the lane they had tried to move into without looking. Sometimes people drive as if the rules of the road didn’t apply to them. They drive as if the traffic laws were merely traffic suggestions. But what if we all drove with an attitude of unrestricted freedom on the roadway? “No one is going to make me drive within the confines of these road lines”, we might think. “If I feel like zigzagging across lanes, I will. If I decide to take a shortcut across someone’s front lawn, that’s up to me. No one is going to hem me in with their restrictive laws.”
This same attitude can be seen across North America when it comes to Covid-19 restrictions. Just this past weekend we saw anti-mask protesters yelling that their rights and freedoms were being infringed upon and they screamed obscenities at the people trying to enforce the law and even at those who disagreed with them.
These laws for driving or for the pandemic precautions are obviously meant to protect us and others on the roads, or in our collective community health, particularly those who are most vulnerable. But we shouldn’t be surprised at such human chafing against the rules because it has been happening since the beginning of time.
In Geneses 3, the serpent’s strategy is to cause the woman to question whether God’s rules really are for her benefit. “He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say . . .’” The serpent said that because he knew that when we hear something that doesn’t quite seem to square with the integrity of the source, we say, “Did they really say that?” Satan’s tactic here is to begin to sow doubt, to cause the woman to question whether God was being too restrictive. Even as she defends God, the Eve shows signs that the seeds of doubt about God’s goodness have already taken root. “The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die’” (3:3). God had restricted eating, but he never said anything about touching. This was Eve’s added restriction. She slightly alters God’s original command because what God actually said to Adam was, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die” (2:16-17). With this minor change, we can see the start of humanity becoming fixated on God’s restrictions.
Restrictions are often viewed today as harsh constraints, but as we know from scripture, and from painful life lessons, unrestricted freedom leads only to chaos and destruction. Unlimited freedom has always been the weapon wielded by dictators, emperors, and despotic rulers down through the ages, and always resulted the suffering of the peoples who had no freedoms. Unlimited freedom for some meant no freedom for others. Laws such as the Ten Commandments were given by God so that we would honor God the Creator and keep from bringing harm to ourselves, to our communities, and to God’s creation. God forbade Adam and Eve from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil so they could avoid the ultimate consequence of disobedience, which is death. Unlimited freedom is actually bondage to sin and separation from God.
Our best interest has always been served by freedom within limits, within defined boundaries. Remember the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. His life, death, and resurrection bought the ultimate freedom for all who turn to Him. In our submission to Him, we are freed from the wages of sin, which is death, and free to experience the abundant life He brought. Praise be to our most merciful Lord God!
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.