By nature, we are wanderers. Do you know that about yourself? Even in times of closest intimacy with Christ, can you not sense that you are prone to wander? It reminds me of the old hymn: “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.”

There are two directions in which we tend to wander away from the cross of Christ—two errors in our thinking that lead to doing: Legalism and License.

The cross is offensive to our sin nature because we gravitate toward works. We live in a culture that is works-based. We earn our grades. We receive promotions based on merit. We post praise on social media for our kids’ works. We keep score as a way of measuring.  We say things like, “There’s no free lunch.” “You have to earn my respect.” “You get what you deserve.”

Daily, we are prone to wander away from the gospel of grace. There is no voice in this culture that is preaching completely free, unmerited grace. Only the Spirit of God is preaching that message of freedom in Christ.

You are free from being your own god. You are free from empty religion. You are free from having to earn brownie points and merit badges. You are free from obedience motivated by fear. You are free to obey out of love. You are free.

I once heard a question that left me undone—I think because it exposed the secret ways I unknowingly work to gain God’s favor:

If Jesus were to walk into this room and look directly at me, do I think I would see delight or disappointment in His eyes?

If I’m trusting in my works at any level, the answer to that question will depend on the day. Instead, we must stand on the gospel! Believe that the cross is wholly sufficient to bring you into God’s glad presence forever. Believe God rejoices over you with singing. Believe He delights in you. He pursues you. He fiercely loves you. Oh! Don’t wander—even in the other direction—toward license.

We can either be deceived into thinking that we’re not truly free (we have to do more) or we can be deceived into thinking that because we are free, we can do whatever we want. After all, “God will forgive me!”

But the freedom that faith in Christ offers does not mean that believers move through life without restraint or without surrendering to God’s holiness. Quite the opposite. We are actually now free to choose obedience, because we are no longer enslaved to sin. We now have the power to live out the gospel, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We were not just set free from eternal death, but we were set free for life—a life in which we choose to humble ourselves, and love even the most undeserving in a radical, sacrificial, gospel-centered way. We will never be more like Jesus than when we choose to use our liberty to serve.