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Freedom by Restriction

J.M. Diener

February 2008

The other night I couldn’t sleep: it was probably that chocolate cake I ate after dinner. My usual method for trying to get myself to sleep is to read something light and fluffy, so I picked up Davis Bunn’s book Elixir (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004). It was quite entertaining until one of the characters made the following statement: “God’s path is called the narrow way. Not because it is more difficult, but because it is restricted.”1 That got me to thinking, is this really the case? After much pondering, I believe it is. Paul points out to the Corinthians, “‘Everything is permissible for me,’ but not everything is helpful. ‘Everything is permissible for me,’ but I will not be brought under the control of anything” (1Co. 6:12 – HCSB; see also 1Co. 10:23). He also exclaims, “If food causes my brother to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won’t cause my brother to fall” (1Co. 8:13 – HCSB).

So often we try to push against the restrictions laid upon us by God, whether it comes to the roles He assigns to men and women, or whether it comes to how to interpret Scripture, or how to live our lives. The life of the Christian is restricted; it is restricted by the Word of God, our love for God, His expectations of us, and our love for other humans. It is in our best interest that God restricts us.2 Peter admonishes us to add goodness (virtue, integrity, or moral excellence) to our faith (see 2Pe. 1:5-7). “Goodness” should be defined as agreeing to do what God says to do and to not to do what He says not to do; it is an act of the will. That is a tall order, because I don’t always agree with God; but doing as He says even in the little things brings freedom to my life. For freedom is not the ability to do as I please, rather it is the ability to do what is right at all times.

As a part of this we need to make sure that our opinions and biases are in line with the restrictive view of God’s Word, rather than letting the world inform where our worth, value, tasks and roles arise from. Let us commit to living in the restrictions of Christ that lead to true freedom rather than in the false freedom the world offers that leads to bondage.

  • 1Davis Bunn, Elixir (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004), Kindle Edition, p. 163, emphasis in original text.
  • 2Note that God even restricts Himself! See: J.M. Diener, “Limits”, Pondering the Master , March 2011 < > (accessed 2018-01-25).

How to cite this document (MLA):

Diener, J.M. Freedom by Restriction. February 2008. Feb 19, 2023. <>.

Copyright © 2008 J.M. Diener. All Rights Reserved.