“LIFE WITH BOUNDARY LINES” By Pastor YAU
Text: Genesis -17, 3:1-7 September 6, 2009
1) Boundary by Mom: A young mother tried to get her 2-year-old son to make a choice. “You can have fish or children,” she told him. She limited his choice to just two because he was too young to understand beyond that. Real choice usually allows a wider variety of options, such as in a menu at a restaurant, and it also allows the person to reject the choices. This boundary is 1 versus 1, this or that. The child didn’t have many choices. Either of his choices is good for his health.
2) Boundary by God: After God had created all the necessities and luxuries in the Garden of Eden, He created Adam and Eve. Then God drew a boundary of fruits they could eat and one kind of fruit they couldn’t. “And the Lord God commanded the man: you are free to eat from all the trees in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it, you will surely die.” (Gen. 2:16-17) This is 1 versus a million, Adam and Eve had so many choices. They didn’t have to choose the 1 against a million to disobey God. But they did.
SETTING THE BOUNDARY LINES: Just to list a few.
1) Boundary lines by God: Beside the initial lines God set in Gen. 2, for Adam and Eve, He set other boundary lines in the Ten Commandments and in the Laws in the Old Testament. He also set boundary lines in our relationship with Him through the teachings of Jesus and the apostle in the New Testament. He set specifically boundary lines in how we may have our sins forgiven and our souls saved through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men (except the name of Jesus) by which we may be saved. (Acts 4:12)
2) Boundary lines by conscience: Conscience is part of the Spirit of God breathed into our life when God created each one of us. God gives us His Spirit so we can tell right from wrong and good from bad, part of God’s holy nature in us. Many of us stop doing wrong and choose to do right because the spirit in us, our conscience, won’t allows us to do that. And if we have already done some bad things, that spirit will convict us to make it right or stop us from continue to do wrong. There is a limit in the soul of all men to stop them from doing wrong except when one has sold his soul to Satan. “Since the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bear witness, and their thoughts now accusing and even defending them.” (Romans 2:15)
3) Boundary lines by law: “What shall I say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! Instead I would not have known what sin was except through the law.” (Romans 7:7) Among all the reasons to have laws, Paul realized the primary purpose: to let us know when we have violated them. Governments set laws, schools set rules, business sets guidelines and procedures so all those who are involved will know where they can go or when to stop. No society, school or business may function properly without setting boundaries so everyone will follow. Without boundary lines, no one knows how far he may go or where to stop.
4) Boundary lines by self: “Therefore I so run, not as uncertainly; so I fight, not as one that beats the air. But I keep under my body, and brings it into subjection.” (1Corinthians 9:26-27 KJV) “Bring it to subjection” is about “self control” as Paul states it in the fruits of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. If you want to be successful in what you do, you have to draw boundary lines to control the desires of your wild heart so you won’t be diverted into many unwarranted side tracts. Self- control is one of the hardest things we all face, especially when there is no one keeping a watch on our back. So, set your own boundary lines so you won’t go wild and suffer consequences.
BOUNDARY LINES ARE BROKEN: (On sequence, Gen. 3:1-7)
1) There is Satan’s trick: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had created. He said to the woman: Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?” (3:1) Satan didn’t ask the question as God told Adam in 2:16-17. Satan, the evil one, always “helps” us to break boundary lines by giving us “look alike” scenarios and if we are not careful enough, we will be led to break the line.
2) We don’t know God’s word: “The woman said to the serpent: We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say: You must not eat from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it or you will die.” (3:2-3) Just compare what God had said and what Eve repeated God’s word, we see the misleading word and attitude in her knowledge of God’s word. Most of those who have respect of God and His words are much better in keeping the lines of conduct God has required of us. No wonder King David ascribes God’s word as “a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
3) Want a life without God: “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.” (3:4-5) Many of those who had broken God’s boundary lines did that because they want to live their lives without needing God: they are gods to themselves. Almost all the people who broke boundary lines, the law of the land or acceptable social codes of conduct did it because they want to live their lives without the authority of God or the government or any other authority. Especially those who have no one to watch their backs or accountable to others need to be very careful: you can’t live your life without God.
4) When the fresh takes over: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and also desirable for gaining wisdom.” (3:6a)Here is the test for Eve: which way would she go: obeying God’s command or catering to the desires of her fresh? Eve chose the later and so she started the history of human downfall. Almost all those who broke the boundary lines in their life because they choose to follow the desires of the fresh instead of the commands of God, law of the land or commonly acceptable norms of conduct.
5) Follow the wrong leader: “She took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (3:6b)Adam was never the innocent party in the great fall of man. In all the happenings from the temptation of the serpent to the temptation of the fruit to the actual violation of God’s law, Adam was there with his wife and he didn’t do anything to stop his wife, protect his wife. Instead he followed his wife’s wrong leadership to break the boundary set by God. Many of those who broke boundary lines because they are too close to the wrong people or adopt wrong ways of philosophy of life. We all need to be very careful who are our friends and buddies.
6) Not as you have expected: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (3:7)Satan promised them they would be like God if they dare to violate God’s commands. But the result of breaking God’s boundary lines was not exactly what Satan had promised. Instead become like God, have the glory and power and wisdom of God, they saw their shameful nakedness, the results of their sin. And naturally they want to cover their sin by sewed together leave to cover their shame. Shame of sin is the worst punishment man will suffer when breaking boundary lines of God or man. There is nothing glorious in breaking God’s law.
KEEP BOUNDARY LINES INTAKE:
1) We need boundary lines: Just look at the examples of Moses’ beseech God to lead his way in Exodus and King Solomon’s humble request of God’s wisdom, certainly we also need God and His boundary lines to keep us safe. Again look at Prophet Isaiah’s admonition in 30:21 and King David’s admission of his need of God’s laws and statutes to guide his life in Psalm 119, it is indisputable that we also need God to set boundary lines for our lives and to lead our way.
2) Respect the authorities: When God created the universe, He created things very orderly because He set boundaries for all of them to move within the limits. As created beings, we are to obey boundaries set by the authorities of God, of governments, parents, principles, supervisors, etc. Many people violate the order God has ordained and were entangled in many troubles and suffer terrible consequences because of their lack of respect of authorities. God has set chains of command in the natural world. He also set chains of command in human society.
3) You won’t be always lucky: Yesterday, July 23, the headline news was: 44 people got arrested in New Jersey for many kinds of crime including some who are high in political and religious arena. They have been in criminal activities for years and have been lucky for those years. But when their luck runs out, that is the time to face consequence. Never bet on luck or believe that you are smart enough not to get caught. It is only a matter of time for your turn to pay the price for breaking boundary lines.
4) Precious peace of mind: For years when driving long distance, I learned to use the cruise control to regulate my speed. I would set the speed according to the limits set by the authority and just enjoy myself either singing hymns and praise songs by memory or listen to radio music. I don’t have to worry if there are patrol cars or state troopers waiting for me or radar guns pointing at me: I am safe because I drive within the boundaries. No money can buy that kind of peace of mind. If we always follow the rules and live within boundary lines, you will always have the peace of mind no matter what is out there.
1) Learn from failure stories: Stories of Adam and Eve, those in New Jersey and others you know may serve as warning lights to guard you from becoming a fallen prey of wild life. Don’t live on luck but on rules and you will be safe.
2) Build a defense system: No one can hurt you or drag you down if you have built a defense system to resist temptation of living without boundary. Admit your needs for limits. Learn to respect authorities God has set around you to protect you.
3) Find the best roadmap: Navigating through life in today’s world is never easy. You need a good roadmap to guide you through without trouble. Look to Jesus, He knows the best. Ask Him to be your Lord and Savior of life so you won’t trap yourself in unseen dangers and pitfalls.