God’s Kingdom rests on the three elements of freedom, choice, and love. The interaction of these elements, which are intertwined and interdependent, is what I call the “circle of life.” Freedom and choice are requirements for love to exist. Without freedom, we have no ability to choose. Without the ability to choose, we cannot love. The very character and definition of love requires that it be freely given as a choice and that it cannot be mandated or forced. In other words, God’s own nature cannot be extricated from this circle of life.
Scripture emphasizes the importance of our freedom, telling us, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (II Corinthians 3:17); “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1); and, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free” (Galatians 5:13). Scripture also establishes the importance of our choices, saying, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). Finally, Jesus made clear everything hinges on love when He taught, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
Everything in Love
Every action and response of God comes from His heart of love for you. Scripture tells us God is love (I John 4:8), and being Himself love, He could do nothing else but act in love. So, if something is not loving, it is not coming from God.
Let me repeat that: if anything is not love it is not of God or from God.
This concept is so powerful and so deeply meaningful to how we view God, and thus how we relate to God, it deserves serious contemplation. If we do not believe this truth, we are vulnerable to all kinds of deceptions which ascribe to God things that are actually the result of the actions of the enemy or are caused by the presence of sin in the world. Not seeing God through the lens of freedom, choice, and love causes us to misinterpret Scripture, to blame God falsely for bad things that happen to us, and ultimately to distance ourselves from God or even reject God.
Satan’s Counterfeit Offer
Satan offers us counterfeits for the “circle of life.” Instead of freedom, he offers control. He encourages us to try to “control,” or he deceives us into giving in to the “control” of external forces so we feel like victims. Because control feels more stable and secure to us, we are easily persuaded to abdicate our freedom in exchange for that illusion. However, Hebrews 6:19 tells us our hope in Christ is the “anchor for our soul, firm and secure.” Instead of choice, Satan presents fear and worry. We are convinced by listening to fear and following where it leads, or worrying about what is to come, we will keep ourselves from getting hurt, but Jesus tells us the opposite: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” (Luke 12:25). Instead of love, Satan offers shame and condemnation. He sets us up to judge ourselves and others, preventing love from flowing from our hearts or receiving love from God, and convinces us we deserve condemnation, are worthless, and don’t matter. Paul counters Satan’s argument by saying, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).
Like God’s “circle of life,” Satan’s counterfeits are interdependent and interconnected. When I try to control, such as closing off my heart to protect myself or hiding behind a false smile, I realize I have no control and I feel fear, which leads to shame because I believe I “should” be more capable. Out of my shame, I try harder to control, creating a self-reinforcing circle.
Through this “circle of death,” Satan attempts to restrict our freedom to choose, because he knows limiting choice means limiting love, both in the giving and in the receiving of love. Shame also limits love, because we soon believe we do not deserve to be loved and reject the gift of God’s love freely offered to us. Satan will tell us repeatedly we “should,” we “have to, we “can’t,” and we “must,” each of which limits our choices. Ultimately, he will use this “circle of death” as proof that we are worthless and unloved.
When we step out of the “circle of life,” we enter Satan’s “circle of death” and begin a spiral into our own destruction. Jesus, however, always offers us a pathway into the “circle of life” through His truth.
Replace the Lies with Jesus’ Truth
If you find yourself believing fear or shame or feeling in control or out of control, powerless, or trapped, go over the verses listed above to fight against the enemy’s lies, then turn to Jesus and ask Him what truth replaces these lies.
When reduced to its foundations, every truth has its origins in the love of Christ for us. He loved us enough to make us partners and co-heirs with Him and to give us the freedom to choose Him, so we can truly love Him and receive His love. The “circle of life” reflects the Kingdom of God in our hearts. When we live fully in our freedom, our choice, and His love, we are living in His Kingdom.
“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20