Don't Go Off the Bridge
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13
Bridges freak me out a little. I can remember driving over the Golden Gate Bridge and feeling a little uneasy ... ok, a lot uneasy. I don't like heights, and looking over the side made me look forward to getting to dry land. A false move on the Golden Gate Bridge would not be good, to say the least.
The Christian life is a lot like a narrow bridge—Jesus called it a narrow road that leads to life. As you and I stay on the bridge, walking in the light with the Lord, all is well and life is filled with joy, peace, purity and fulfillment. But, there are dangers to either side of us on this narrow bridge. If you wander off on either side, you are in serious trouble.
LEGALISM ON THE RIGHT SIDE
On the right side is a fast flowing stream of crystal clear water, white-capping rapids, actually. In those rapids are sharp rocks. There is no way to traverse that stream without serious injury. If you fall in there, you will get beat up and cut up for sure.
The danger on the right side represents legalism. Legalism is gritting your teeth and trying with all your might to live the Christian life and please God in the power of the flesh. It is an exercise in futility that leaves you broken and bleeding with guilt and frustration as you fail and fail and fail.
Jesus died and rose again for us ... so we could walk in freedom. He wants us to trust Him and let Him live the Christian life through us. The little poem says it best, “I can't, He never said I could. He will, He always said he would.”
The way you know you have fallen into stream of legalism is that you lose your joy. The Christian life becomes drudgery, a list of rules that you must keep or else. It is a horrible, miserable way for a Christian to live. Beware falling into legalism.
LICENTIOUSNESS ON THE LEFT SIDE
On the left side on the bridge is a rancid stream filled with raw sewage. If you fall in there, you will get extremely sick.
The danger on the left side represents licentiousness, a total 180 from legalism. A licentious person sees God's grace as a license to sin. Sexual immorality, partying like a rock star, hedonism and pleasure-seeking all encompass the licentious person. Like the prodigal son, those who fall into this kind of living always end up at the pig sty, consumed with shame over a life lived in open abomination to God.
The devil doesn't care which side you fall into, he just wants you off the bridge. The devil knows that if you stay on the bridge with the Lord, you will experience the wonderful blessings of heaven. Since the devil is a thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy, he will try with all his might to get you to wander off the bridge. For some, he will tempt with rules and regulations, appealing to a person's pride—Look at how godly I am! For others, he will tempt with the passing pleasures of sin that appeal to the flesh.
But the good news is this: "Greater is He who is in you, than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4).
I don't know where you are today, but God does. He knows, and He cares. If you are derailed and have fallen into legalism or licentiousness, you can get back on track with Jesus ... and you can do it today. Cry out to Him. Confess your sins to Him.
Regardless of what you have done, His hand is stretched out to you today. He says, “Take My hand and let's walk together again.”
What is your answer to Him?
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Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.