Picture two knights sitting on sparkling white horses. They face a gleaming castle surrounded by mammoth stone walls, which in turn are circled by a wide moat. Archers line the battlements, awaiting the signal to launch their deadly arrows at the pair below.
The first knight wears a shining suit of armor. A heavy helmet protects his head. His body is encased in a massive iron suit; his arms and legs are enclosed by hinged pieces of metal. His armor is completed by heavy "boots" and rigid "gloves."
The second knight sits astride his charger like the first knight, but the only metal he's wearing are the braces on his teeth. A backward baseball hat and sunglasses protect his head from the glare of the sun. His shirt bears a picture of Ren and Stimpy. A pair of shorts, socks, and Reebok shoes complete his attire.
The first knight looks at the second. He says, "We shall charge yon castle on my signal and bring honor to our families this fair day." He raises the broadsword he holds in his right hand and points it in the direction of the castle.
"OK, dude," the second knight says as he lifts a baseball bat. "Whatever!"
Which knight would you rather be? The first knight is rather confined, of course it gets stuffy and sweaty inside his unwieldy suit, and it's hard to scratch your back or wipe your nose. The second knight is totally free of such restrictive dress. He's got it made, right? Wrong! The first knight may feel restricted by his armor, but he wears it for his own good. The second knight may be more comfortable, more "free," but he's unprotected.
God's commands work like a suit of armor. They're designed to protect you from the "fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan" (Ephesians 6:16). His command not to steal, for example, protects you from the guilt and fear of punishment and the shame, embarrassment, and real punishment that would result if you got caught! His command not to lie protects you from being trapped by a web of your own lies, spun from having to invent new lies to cover up the old ones. It also keeps you from losing the trust of your friends and family. His command to forgive those who have hurt you protects you from becoming a bitter, resentful person.
God's commands are not designed to cramp your style or spoil your fun; they're intended like a suit of armor to protect you from harm.
REFLECT: Do you ever feel cramped by God's commands? Do you ever feel like they limit your freedom? How can you become more aware of the ways in which God's commands protect you from the Devil? Remember that he "prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
PRAY: "God, thank you for your love and for the way you protect me by demanding my obedience to your commandments. Please help me with the weakest part of my armor right now, which is..."