The interaction of freedom, choice, and responsibility, which are intertwined and interdependent, is what I call the “circle of life.” God’s Kingdom rests on these three elements. “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) “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.” (Galatians 5:13) Without freedom, there is no choice. Without the ability to choose, there is no 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. Without responsibility for our choices, freedom evaporates, and on the circle goes.
Satan offers us counterfeits for these three elements. Instead of freedom, he offers control. Because control feels safer and more secure to us (someone or something else will determine the outcome for us), we are easily persuaded to abdicate our freedom in exchange for that illusion. Instead of choice, Satan presents fear; instead of responsibility, Satan offers shame. Like God’s circle of life, Satan’s counterfeits are interdependent and interconnected. When I try to control, such as trying to save myself or create my own protection, I realize I have no control and feel fear, which leads to shame because I believe I “should” be more capable, and so on. I call this triad the “circle of death.” Satan attempts to restrict our freedom to choose, because he knows that limited choice means limited love, both in giving and in receiving. Shame also limits love, because we soon believe we do not “deserve” to be loved, and reject the gift freely offered to us of God’s love for us. Satan will tell you repeatedly that you “should,” you “have to, “ you “can’t,” you “must,” each of which limits our choices, and ultimately he will use this circle as proof that you are worthless, without value, and unloved.
Whenever we step out of the circle of life, we enter the circle of death, and begin a spiral into our destruction. However, Jesus always offers us a pathway onto the circle of life through His truth. If you find yourself believing fear or shame, or feeling either in control (self-determination) or out of control (powerless and trapped), turn to Jesus and ask Him for His truth. When reduced to its foundations, every truth has its origins in the love of Christ for us – for example, He loved us enough to make us partners and co-creators with Him, to give us the freedom to choose Him so that we can truly love Him and receive His love, and even to choose to experience death to restore us to Him. Love is Who He is, and loving Him such that His love also flows from us into others is the ultimate result of His love for us.