When The Best Restraint Is Self-Restraint
And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
With all this talk about grace and liberty, perhaps it’s time for me to clarify something. Some may be asking: Doesn’t liberty have its limits? Shouldn’t folks restrain their freedom and occasionally hold themselves in check? Yes, without question. Grace can be and sometimes is—abused. By that I mean exercising one’s liberty without wisdom, having no concern over whether it offends or wounds a young and impressionable fellow believer. But I must hasten to add that I believe such restraint is an individual matter. It is not to be legislated, not something to be forced on someone else. Limitations are appropriate and necessary, but I fail to find in Scripture anyplace where one is to require such restraint from another. To do so is legalism. It plugs up breathing holes. It kills grace. The best restraint is self-restraint that comes from the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit through the person and presence of Jesus Christ in each individual life. It’s been my observation over the last thirty years that the vast majority of believers need to be freed, not restrained. Our job is to free people; God’s job is to restrain them. God is doing His job much better than we are doing ours.
I like to think of certain verses in Scripture as those that help us breathe. By that I mean they encourage true freedom. They liberate! I suggest that all who wish to be free—truly free from bondage traps and legalistic prisons—read these verses again and again and again. I would suggest you type them on three-by-five cards and tape them to your bathroom mirror. Read them aloud each morning. They will help awaken grace within you on a daily basis. Here are a few that I often quote and claim:
It was for freedom that Christ set us free.
For he who has died is freed from sin.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.