When I was a boy, I played a lot of yard football and baseball. The first thing we did was mark off boundaries for our field of play. Without boundaries, we could not play the game without chaos.

The creation story in Genesis teaches that God set boundaries, bringing order out of chaos.

God separated the light from the darkness (1:5). God separated water (1:7) from the dry ground "land."

God placed living creatures on the land according to their kinds. He placed livestock and wild animals according to their kind (1:24). He did the same thing for plants.

When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, God's boundaries were designed to keep them safe, not to limit their freedom.

As long as they did not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were fine. Beyond that, they had considerable freedom.

When we are growing up, most of us looked at boundaries as a negative thing: curfews, speed limits, dating rules, drinking ages, movie ratings, the list seemed endless. When boundaries are well-placed, they keep us safe. It's when we do not think that we need them that we find ourselves in trouble.

When Adam and Eve thought the boundaries God established were foolish, and they crossed over them, they ended up reaping the consequences for their mistake. This same is true for us.

Any time we break the boundaries God has set for us, there will be consequences.

We must learn that God's boundaries are for our benefit. God wants what's best for us. God isn't a killjoy.

While there may be pleasure in sin (crossing God's boundaries) for a season, the Bible teaches that the result is destruction.

We do not even have to understand all God's reasons for setting boundaries to obey. We need to trust that his boundaries are for our benefit.

We may not always be able to see or know all the consequences of stepping outside of God's boundaries. We might only see the pleasure it brings. Sometimes, we are enticed to come in closer and closer until we are wrapped up so far that by the time we realize it, the life has been squeezed right out of us. This is the reason we must trust God and remember that God knows best. He's set boundaries for a reason.

The Genesis story says that when Adam and Eve ate the fruit, their eyes were "opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves." Gen. 3:7 (NIV)

The good news is that when we step outside the boundaries God has established, God's grace is available.

Before God cast Adam and Eve out of the garden (which was part of their consequences for stepping over God's boundary,) God also performed an act of grace. The subtle text is in Genesis 3:21.

It says, "The Lord made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." NIV

Making garments of skin was an act of grace and mercy on God's part.

The awareness of their nakedness shows the shame of their sin.

In a figurative sense, God was covering their sins when he covered their bodies.

Did you notice how he did it? He used garments made of skin.

The implication is that animals died to cover the sins of Adam and Eve, a faint echo of the sacrificial system that became part of the religious life of the ancient Hebrew.

A sacrifice was necessary to get back within the boundaries of God's good grace. It was a way of saying to God, "I'm sorry for my sins."

On the cross, Jesus died for our sins. The death of Jesus became the sacrifice that God accepts that covers our sins when we admit that we have crossed the boundaries God has set for us.

If you know you are not living within the boundaries God has set for your marriage, your speech, how you handle your money, what you see, where you spend your time, what you put into your body, who you spend your time with, then it's time to stop hiding from God.

God sees and knows if you are not living within His boundaries. Not only is this hurting you, but it hurts others and separates you from God.

God only wants your freedom to increase, and your life to be blessed. God wants you living within His boundaries to experience His blessings, and so you will not bring harm to yourself and others,

Allow God, and the grace of God to cover you and begin the healing process from the damage done from crossing the boundaries God has set for your life. Enjoy the great freedom that comes from staying within the boundaries God has set for us.

Michael Helms is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jefferson.

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