v 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”
The most fundamental of all Christian relationships is the awareness that we are children of God, and are free to call Him ‘Father’. He has not called us into some form of unthinking religious slavery, demanding obedience depending on fear of some kind of retribution. Sadly, that is how even some human families operate – ‘Do as I tell you, or else…. ‘ God has made us His children and we respond in obedience out of love, not fear. But we are still children; we are subject to the will and purposes of a heavenly Father.
Within this framework of love, our heavenly Father sets boundaries that are for our own good and the welfare of others around us.
He sets boundaries in our social behaviour; love requires us to respect others and seek their welfare. There are boundaries in our working practices, honest dealings and integrity are involved. There are boundaries in our civil conduct; paying our taxes and observing the regulations for driving for example. There are boundaries in the way we handle our money; so that we respond thoughtfully to the needs of those who lack the bare necessities of life. There are boundaries in sexual behaviour; I am not free to make off with someone else’s wife or husband.
These boundaries are set so that we begin to conform to the pattern of holiness of life exampled by Jesus Himself. We are all at different places on our spiritual journey towards this maturity of living and so lovingly accept that mistakes made by others (and ourselves) on the same journey will occur.
What we cannot do is accept that failure is normal, and that we are free to go on making the same mistake by our wilful disobedience.