Having the practical boundaries of rules and accountability in your life will help protect you from your own poor decisions. But they cannot prevent you from them entirely, because in every situation, sin is your choice—yours and yours alone. Even a life hemmed in by boundaries can become eaten up with a rebellious heart. Maybe you come from a home where your parents were extremely strict and you had rules up the wazoo. I’ve seen both good and bad fruit come from strict homes, and the deciding factor is usually a young person’s attitude, not the parents (aren’t you surprised?).
One girl I know has two of the strictest parents I’ve ever met, but I have never heard her bad mouth her parents or complain. In fact, when she was given the choice to move into the dorms of the college a few blocks from her house, she chose to continue living at home to save money. Most people would have been out the door in a heartbeat, but this young lady had kept her heart right toward her parents. In fact, I will not be surprised in the least to watch her go on to be a huge success in her life because she has honored her parents as her spiritual authority, even when their rules may have seemed overwhelming to her at the time. “Honor your father and mother that it might go well with you.” (Matthew 19:19, NKJV).
Rules, boundaries, accountability that hurts at times, these things are not always fun. Allowing yourself to be subject to the wisdom and authority of others may not always be an easy experience. If you don’t guard your heart against rebellion, it won’t matter what rules you do or don’t keep. Your own rebellion will lead you down a path of stupidity before you know it.
For example, a young lady came to me once and asked me to keep her accountable in a certain area. I observed her life and met with her weekly. I saw several issues in her daily decisions that created very convenient “loopholes” to disobey the guidelines we had come up with to help her walk free. Being my blunt self, I confronted her on these loopholes and strongly encouraged her to cut off the behavior that I knew would only prolong her struggle. She sweetly said she’d consider what I said and thanked me for my “advice.”
Every week it was the same, and her stories only got worse and worse about how she had fallen in sin. She was in bondage to that sin for nearly a decade, and it greatly derailed and delayed her destiny in the Lord. She had a rebellious heart, disguised in a sweet demeanor. She thought she had everyone convinced that her intentions were honorable (even herself). However, I didn’t see her choosing obedience so she could find freedom. Her problem was not an issue of self-control, it was an issue of pride. Deep down, she thought she could figure it out herself.
This is important to understand: submitting to another person’s authority isn’t simply asking them what they think about your actions or decisions. Submitting is actually being willing to walk in obedience to the Biblical truth that someone in authority over you has challenged you with, even if it’s the opposite of what your flesh wants. It’s putting your trust in their wisdom concerning Biblical living, and giving weight to what they hear from Holy Spirit concerning your situation. It’s being big enough to realize that this person may see things from a more clear and mature perspective than you do (especially if sin has deceived you!). Going through the motions of “seeking counsel” is not going to help you one bit. Only if you receive the counsel with a humble heart and walk in scriptural obedience can you actually benefit from it.