In order to live life to the fullest, we all need boundaries. God has blessed the creation with boundaries. The sun has its place and so does the moon. The water and the land provide boundaries for one another as well as the creatures that live within them. Most fish don’t live very long on land.

Without a boundary, life is chaotic and more stressful. Imagine driving along the side of a cliff. A well-marked lane with a guardrail and a speed-limit makes for a much more enjoyable driving experience. Boundaries create a sense of safety and God knows we all need them.

God gave Adam and Eve a boundary. “The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Why would God place something off-limits? Wouldn’t paradise be the freedom to indulge in whatever way, and to whatever extent, that one chooses? Actually, no. Enjoyment does not come from excess or from a lack of rules. Enjoyment and pleasure are derived from staying within the boundary.

Imagine that you had all the food of the world at your disposal—lobster, steak, cakes and pies, whatever you like, it is there. And suppose that you are not inhibited by time. There is no sense of morning or evening. You can eat an infinite amount for an infinite amount of time. Would this be an enjoyable experience? Maybe at first it would appear to be, but in actuality, it would be torturous. Imagine eating rich food for days without end. It would be painful. A thing is only enjoyable when it is enjoyed within the proper boundary. Enjoyment comes from knowing when to stop, and knowing when to say No. If we say Yes to everything, then we are unable to recognize when we are actually enjoying something.

The problem with us—adults and children, alike—is that we tend to test the boundaries. We tend to ask, “Did God really say…” (Genesis 3:1). On the surface, life without boundaries looks enjoyable, but it never ends well. Boundaries should not be seen as a result of sin. Instead, sin is the overstepping of boundaries.

Adam and Eve were given dominion. Basically, they were made King and Queen of the Garden. They had everything at their fingertips and yet they trespassed beyond the boundary, seeking the one thing which was not rightfully theirs. Similarly, King David used his position of power to take the “one little ewe lamb” (2 Samuel 12:3) from a poor man.

In contrast, the Lord Jesus Christ (or put another way, King Jesus) stayed within the boundaries. The tempter tries to get King Jesus to use His power to provide for Himself—“tell these stones to become bread” (Matthew 4:3). Jesus says No. The devil tells Jesus that He should not have to suffer if He is God’s Son—“throw yourself down” and the angels will make sure you don’t get hurt (Matthew 4:6). Jesus says No. With one more slivery scheme up his sleeve, the tempter tells King Jesus that He can have all the kingdoms of the world if He will “bow down and worship” the king of deception (Matthew 4:8-9). Jesus says No.

May we have the wisdom to recognize the boundaries in our lives, viewing them as a blessing rather than a curse. May we say Yes to God’s blessings and No to the voices that want us to transgress. Otherwise, we’ll be like a fish out of water. It usually doesn’t end well for the fish.