When we first came to Guatemala some years ago, one of the first things I noticed about the country was the peculiar style of houses here. Most houses have a high wall built around them, with sharp glass or barbed wire across the top of the wall. While these measures do not make the house impregnable by any means, it does deter the casual thief from even thinking about climbing the wall.
Jesus described a sheep fold which had a door. Those who are His true sheep enter in through the Door, which is Jesus Christ himself. Sheep folds have a perimeter wall that is meant to protect the sheep in two ways: By keeping out the wolves, and by keeping the sheep from wandering and getting themselves into danger. The sheep may or may not perceive the danger, but nevertheless, it exists outside those walls.
God has set up walls, which are also called commandments, precepts, statutes... all laid out in His Word. He does not put them there to make people miserable, but to protect us and open Heaven's windows of blessings upon us! Many sheep these days seem to be peeping over the top of the walls, or jumping out altogether to mingle with the foxes and wolves of the world. Do they not realize that the walls are for protection?
The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust...and my high tower. (Psalm 18:2)
Many wish to cast off what they perceive to be chains of righteous living. Don't tell them what the Bible says about how to dress, how to treat their brother, how to manage their money and resources, or how to otherwise please the Lord. They are too busy enjoying their "Christian liberties" to be bothered with that. And all the while, they live as slaves to the desires of their flesh, or to the world's definition of beauty and success.
Elisabeth Elliot wrote along these lines in her book Let Me Be a Woman, drawing this beautiful analogy:
As I sit here in the window of this cottage I can see a sailboat skimming silently along the horizon. It is a beautiful image of freedom. But the freedom of the sailboat to move so swiftly and beautifully is the result of obedience to laws. The builder of the boat had to know the proper ratio of beam to keel and mast. The one who sails the boat obeys the rules of sailing. A ship tacking against the wind moves deviously, but when she runs with a strong tide or a following wind she takes to herself the power of tide and wind and they become her own. She is doing the thing she was made for. She is free not by disobeying the rules but by obeying them.
And so it is with the obedient Christian life! To obey God's commands is to line up one's life with His will. What peace reigns within those walls! To step outside of them is to fall prey to the lies and half-truths of the enemy:
"I've worked hard, and I deserve this."
"God doesn't want me to look frumpy."
"No one is going to listen to my witness if I look and act like a Christian freak."
God gives us the freedom to choose to obey or disobey, and each choice carries its consequences. A student who exercises his freedom to do whatever he wants with his time is bound to fail his classes. A man who abuses his freedom to drive all over the interstate as he pleases is bound to cause an accident. A young woman who lives for pleasure and popularity will some day reap the sad consequences of her lascivious lifestyle.
Walls are for protection. There is liberty - TRUE liberty - within those walls!
So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts. And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved. (Psalm 119:44,45,47)
I want to emphasize that His commandments are not grievous to obey. For every thing He asks of us actually works out for our own joy and well-being. Are you listening to the lies of the enemy? Have you been betrayed by your peers, who have drawn your heart into the way that is not good? Are you a child of God who has bought into Hollywood's image of what you should look like? You can break free of that, by God's grace and power. Just take a step of obedience! There is freedom and protection from the enemy within those walls.
O what wonderful love, O what grace divine,
That Jesus should die for me!
I was lost in sin, for the world I pined,
But now I am set free.