During my teenage years, I struggled with following the speed limit. Between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, I received a number of traffic tickets for excessive speed. My parents would take away my driving privileges for a month here or there. They’d warn me of the dangers of driving fast. They’d remind me that I could lose my license. Still, I didn’t listen and continued to get speeding ticket after speeding ticket. I wasted lots of money and put myself and others in danger.
Many years later, my father and I participated in the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. First we went through a stock car training class. Then they turned us loose on the Indy 500 track. The drivers who were in line in front of me were turning in speeds of more than 160 miles per hour.
Wow! I thought. This is what I’ve always wanted! No tickets, no limits. I can drive as fast as I want!
Interestingly, though, as I got out onto the track and put the pedal to the metal, I started thinking some surprising thoughts: I should be careful. The wall is only a few feet away. I don’t want to do something stupid and hurt myself or this car. I’ll play it safe and just have a good time out here.
After several laps, my fastest speed was 132 miles per hour. That was slower than a lot of the other drivers. And, ironically, it was slower than some speeds I’d reached as a teenager out on America’s highways! Why so conservative on the Indy 500 track? I’m not exactly sure, but I think the fact that it wasn’t illegal to go fast made it less appealing. Once the sky was the limit, I could truly decide for myself.
Laws and rules actually cause sin to increase, not decrease. Laws arouse sinful passions (Rom. 5:20; 7:5). Even rules, although they have the appearance of curbing sin, don’t really restrain us (Col. 2:20–23). In fact, God tells us, “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14).
God wasn’t acting blindly when he liberated us from the law. He did it for a reason: so that, by the Spirit of his Son in us, we might live a life the law could never give. He invites us to a life freely chosen, not one of duty or obligation. Just as I chose freely out there on the Indy 500 track, we are intended to live out the idea that “everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial” (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23). When the sky’s the limit, we discover what we really want.
(from Andrew’s bestselling book, “God Without Religion”)