Chapter 12: Boundaries

I wish to set before you, beloved child of God, the idea that authentic love, as portrayed in scripture, has as much to do with respecting boundaries as it does meeting needs and caring for people.  There is an incredibly important characteristic of love that must not go unnoticed in our daily Christian walk, and that is the fact that love is eternally bound to righteousness—translation: love always respects boundaries; personal boundaries, social boundaries, moral boundaries, legal boundaries, and most importantly, God’s boundaries. Remember the Apostle Paul’s description of authentic love when he said that it “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (I Corinthians 13:6, NASB).

Sadly, in today’s contemporary society, we are surrounded by virtually every kind of unrighteousness. There are times, in fact, when I’m all but certain that we are coming upon those end times described by the Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy when he said:

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power…

(2 Timothy 3:1-5, NASB)

 That doesn’t sound like a very loving society. In fact, that looks very much like a world that has little or no regard whatsoever for boundaries of any kind. But here’s something to consider: I don’t know about you, but my experience in this old world has wised me up to the fact that unrighteousness, hatred, and rebellion against God will not hesitate to cloak itself in the garbs of love whenever possible. The prophet Isaiah spoke of this very thing when he said:

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!

(Isaiah 5:20-21, NASB)

As this prophecy indicates, people who are walking in rebellion against God are often pretty adamant about their beliefs. They are “wise in their own eyes” and think they know better than God what is right and what is wrong. But they are deluded because, “even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21, NASB). And so, in their delusion, they “call evil good, and good evil” while, at the same time, claiming that they love one another and humanity in general; and some even claim to love God.

Let me give you a first class example of just how this delusion operates. Remember that Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” and, “He who does not love Me does not keep My words” (John 14:15 & 24, NASB). From these statements we learn that love is more than an emotion or a feeling of goodwill; love obeys. In other words, love conforms itself to the will of God by observing the boundaries of right and wrong that have been established by God. It is important for us, the new covenant children of God, to always remember that authentic love for God respects, and even celebrates, those boundaries.

However, the Bible gives us some frightening examples of people who, though they may have claimed to love God, did not respect God’s boundaries. In the book of Jude we read:

And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

(Jude 1:6-7, NASB)

You may be wondering, as have I, how is it that some of the angels “did not keep their own domain”—realm of jurisdiction and responsibility—but, in fact, “abandoned their proper abode”—dwelling place or realm of habitation? And how did their actions correspond with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah so that it could be said that, “in the same way” they “indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh”?

To answer that question, we need to note that Jude is referencing another literary work that was well known to Jewish society, and to many Christians as well, in that day and age. He says “It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied…” (Jude 1:14, NASB). When we look into the Book of Enoch, we read there about fallen angels and just how it was that they fell. Enoch says:

And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: ‘Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.’ And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them: ‘I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.’ And they all answered him and said: ‘Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.’ Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it … And all the others together with them took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants. And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells: Who consumed all the acquisitions of men.

(Charles, 1917, Enoch 6:1-6 & 7:1-4)

Regardless of how people view the Book of Enoch, or debate its authorship, still, Jude seems to be very familiar with the book and has no problem alluding to it and using it as a warning to us. Enoch illustrates just how it was that angelic beings rebelled against God; or at least one aspect of the form the rebellion took. In essence, they simply did not respect God’s boundaries. They blurred the lines.

Would you call this rebellious angelic behavior “love”? I would not—”lust,” maybe; “narcissism” or “self-love,” perhaps; “sensuality” and the “pursuit of pleasure,” yes; but let’s not call it “love”! In fact, regardless of how they may have felt about the matter, or how they may have tried to justify their behavior, there is nothing angelic about their decision to transgress God’s boundaries. Their decision was completely demonic. Their alleged love for God extended only to the point of keeping the commandments with which they agreed. But when it came to something they desired more than God’s approval, they stepped over the boundaries—they “did not keep their own domain,” but “abandoned their proper abode” and “went after strange flesh.”  In reality, that’s no kind of “love” at all.

Interestingly enough, the Bible appears to confirm Enoch’s story, or, more likely, Enoch’s story was taken from the Biblical record, wherein we read:

Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

(Genesis 6:1-4, NASB)

As mind-bending as it seems—that God would actually permit angels to abandon their proper abode in the spiritual realm, come to earth, and have sex with mortal women, thereby producing a race of giants—still, it is the Biblical story; embellished, perhaps, by whoever wrote the book of Enoch, and used by Jude as an example of ways in which God’s children ought never to walk. In fact, the consequences of such actions are spelled out in scripture as being quite dire. The Bible says that these fallen angels who did not respect God’s boundaries but “went after strange flesh,” God has “kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 1:6, NASB). Furthermore, Jesus taught that everyone who chooses to imitate their selfishness and rebellion will share their fate when, in the final judgment, God will say to them, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41, NASB).

Nevertheless, as of this moment, our world seems to be filling up with people who, wanting not only to gratify the lust of the flesh, but to be accepted by society, or even popular in the eyes of the world, think that they—like those self-willed angles of old—can blur the lines and step across God’s established boundaries with impunity. Despite the Biblical admonition that, “Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4, NASB), still, people not only willfully transgress that boundary, but even celebrate fornication and adultery as a normal and regular way of life. It has become common place, and even expected, that men and women will have sexual relationships outside the holy bonds of matrimony. In our society, people think there is something wrong with you if you are not having your sexual needs met, whether you happen to be married or not. Promiscuity is the order of the day—people having multiple sexual partners—men moving in with one woman after another, having babies, then moving on to their next girlfriend; leaving a generation of fatherless children in their wake. Sexual immorality is streamed to us daily and called “entertainment.”

Despite the Biblical admonition saying, “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9-10, NASB), still, like those arrogant angels who went after strange flesh, people today, and even whole societies—enforced by government mandate—willfully step over those boundaries and celebrate homosexuality as simply an alternative lifestyle; even legislating special rights and protections for those who engage in these kinds of sinful activities. One wonders just how far away our society is from becoming a Sodom and Gomorrah. The Apostle Paul speaks to this situation, saying:

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

(Romans 1:26-32, NASB)

Believe me, these rebellious people have little respect for the children of God and they do not give their “hearty approval” to our desire to maintain His boundaries with regard to good and evil.  Rather, they are intent on stepping over God’s boundaries, calling “evil good, and good evil.” They throw the word of God to the wind and establish themselves as their own authority and thereby “substitute darkness for light and light for darkness.” They look at God’s new covenant Children, who love God and keep His commandments, with disdain; calling us evil and bigoted because we do not agree with them, and thereby they “substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter”—all as Isaiah prophesied. And, while cloaking themselves in what might look like garbs of love, tolerance, and acceptance, they have no great love for truth or for God’s standards of righteousness and show very little love or tolerance for those who do. As the Apostle Paul points out in his letter to the ekklesia in Thessalonica, these people have fallen prey to:

…all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

(2 Thessalonians 2:10-12, NASB)

Can we agree, beloved child of God, that to imitate the behavior of fallen angels—thereby rendering ourselves servants to Satan’s schemes—is not really love in any true sense of the word. Rather, love is respecting God’s established boundaries and leading people—especially our dearest loved ones—ever closer to truth; and, prayerfully, into their own loving relationship with the Lord.

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