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Moral standards give us a vision to guide and direct the course of our life – living according to God’s design and not merely our own selfish impulses. But these principles are best seen as a path towards God’s best, and should not be confused with living a mature and free life with God. Our growth becomes stunted when mere moral behavior is our highest aim.

To be sure, learning and submitting to moral discipline is good and needed. It reminds us that we’re not like animals just following our natural instincts. Some things are noble and good, while others are not. And morality helps to form our character toward the true, good, and beautiful.

But shaping our character is still not the ultimate point. This is simply the training needed to experience the fullness of life Christ wants to give us. In this way, it’s similar to school or any other training program. The point of school is to learn the fundamentals of life so we can live the good life after we graduate. And clearly something is wrong when we’ve aced all of our exams but still don’t have the freedom to graduate and enter into the rest of life.

Likewise, morality teaches us how to conduct ourselves as the true sons of God. But the point is so that we can live in the fullness of our freedom, power, and love as God’s true sons.  And all too often we’ve made morality our highest aim – living perpetually as a good boy, but never with the generative power of a mature man.

This is the older brother in the prodigal son story, who’s doing all the right things but his heart is just as disconnected from the father’s. In the same way, we might not be troublemakers per se, but we also don’t know how to use our strength to make an impact for good.

In the end, continue to submit to moral discipline. But don’t hide behind merely following the rules that you fail to discover how to truly live. Morality equips us for the adventure God has called us into, but doesn’t replace the adventure.  

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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