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November 13, 2023

Ties That Bind

The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat.”

–Genesis 2:16-17

If you have children and grandchildren, you probably have witnessed this phenomenon before: You tell your small child or grandchild they are free to have as much fun as they want to in the house, but the one thing they are not to do is touch that special bowl sitting on the coffee table. “Whatever you do,” you say, “do not touch that bowl.” Where is that child drawn like a magnet? Right toward that bowl. They will circle around the bowl, getting closer and closer. Then they will reach their hand out a little ways and pull it back a few times. And then, inevitably, they will touch the bowl. Have you ever wondered why that is? It is because freedom has a way of leading us to the edge of sin–and eventually, over the edge and into sin.

I remember when I was a youth minister, the teenagers frequently asked me, “How far can we go with our boyfriend or girlfriend?” I do not think anybody ever asked, “How little can we do and get away with it?”

That tendency to use our freedom to move toward the edge of sin is nothing new. In the garden of Eden, God said to Adam, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Genesis 2:16-17). Where were Adam and Eve drawn? Not to all the trees they could have enjoyed but to that one forbidden tree.

As Christians, you and I have been delivered from the burdensome requirements of the law. We are free. Yet in the passage we are going to look at this week, Paul was saying to us, “Do not allow your freedom to cause you to pursue sin; instead, use your freedom to pursue godliness.” That is the theme of 1 Corinthians 10.

Remember, in chapter 8, Paul said we may have freedom in Christ, but we need to restrict our freedom in order to benefit other believers. He was addressing the so-called mature Christians in Corinth who were saying, “We can eat meat offered to idols. We have freedom in Christ.” In these Corinthian Christians, Paul identified a dangerous attitude: pride. They thought they were exempt from falling into sin. So in chapter 10, he warned them, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (v. 12). Any one of us can fall into sin and experience the judgment of God in our lives. That is why it is important that we do not use our freedom in Christ to get as close as we can to sin; instead, we need to flee from sin.

Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Ties That Bind” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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