I finished the book of Judges yesterday. For many who read this book, it comes across as a book of heroes, filled with leaders like Gideon and Samson who led Israel out of oppression from other countries. To me however, it is a depressing book. It is a story of a recurring theme of Godlessness and moral depravity in Israel's history. God raised up these leaders because when things were going well for them, Israel forsook God instead of serving him out of thankfulness and devotion.
Look at the final verse of the book and you'll see what I mean:
"At that time there was no king in Israel. People did whatever they felt like doing." (Jud. 21:15 MSG)
Since there wasn't an authority figure, Israel got lax in their devotion to God. People basically did whatever they want, served whatever gods they wanted to, and married whomever they felt like.
This sounds familiar, doesn't it? In North America and many other parts of the world, people do whatever they feel like. They serve whatever god they want (if any), and for the most part, they do whatever they want. Sure, there are laws that are enforced in each country, and most people adhere to these laws. Of course, the number of lawbreakers seems on the rise, so even laws aren't always a deterrent.
What if you're a Christian? Are you free to do whatever you want? Yes, scripture tells us that we are free, and no longer a slave to sin. But does that mean that we're free to do whatever we feel like? Here's what Paul had to say:
So, since we're out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we're free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it's your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you've let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you've started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom! (Rom. 6:15-18 MSG)
If we do whatever we want, we become slaves to sin once more. As the above passage mentions, there are some forms of freedom that can destroy freedom. By being free you are not free at all. Paradoxical, but true.
Being a Christian is not easy work. We need to always be on guard to resist temptation, and to do the right thing. So how can you tell what the right thing is to do? Scripture makes it pretty clear that if something is good, then it is something that we should focus on (Phil. 4:8). But in any areas that you are unsure of, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. God wants us to serve him, and is not going to try to confuse us.
To think about: who is your "king"? Have you been living however you want, doing whatever you feel like? Or are you subjecting your will to God's will, and striving to do what's right?