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Have you noticed the “three’s” of life? It’s a universal law: the good, the bad and the ugly.
As an example, in interaction we behave assertively (the good), submissively (the bad), or aggressively (the ugly). Like the fork in the road, the straightway is the best way.
I find it fascinating that this truth anchors us to a safe homeland—if we will—where a very powerful life is lived enshrined in the narrow way. This is a way many people don’t see or know about, or if they do, they’re not tempted there. But this narrow way is the way to life. 
The narrow way is the way of balance—not over to the left; not over to the right; no, it’s in the “lonely” but well-placed middle—for most people prefer to skirt the edges.
What I want to highlight is the specific cycle that takes a spiritually slothful person through slavery finally to sense. They come from the ugly left and go to the bad right and finally rest in the good middle—balance.
From the spiritual person’s viewpoint this is how it looks. He or she started out keen but green. In their increased knowledge, they soon became legal. Finally, they become mature, but only through fervently and continually seeking their God—a sacrifice of a poor and broken spirit and a contrite heart. 
Let’s now focus on that significant years-long micro-journey of slavery to sense for a moment.
Slavery is bondage to something; controlled externally or internally, but not by God. Spiritually we’ve been released from that. Let’s take an excited look at “sense.”
The outcome is this: Breaking the conventions of legalism, which is being bound in chains to the whim of a God-assisted but still mainly self-imposed rule, yet having already mastered most aspects of worldly self-discipline, the person is achieving the better of one world without reaching out to the other. They’ve dealt effectively with the negative aspects of life, but now they need to embrace the positive, life-giving components which bring real freedom.
The only thing that stands between them and freedom is embracing both worlds simultaneously: controlled desire plus freedom from rules. This is the ultimate “freeing” discipline.
This person has disciplined their vagrant worldly desires yet they’ve learned not to be hemmed in by the chastening aspects of discipline, for too much discipline makes life rule-bound and takes all the fun and zest out of it. This person has gone past the bad and into the good to find life balance and spiritual maturity.
This is the hope for character development we profess.
The test: It’s the ability and personal capacity to do most/all things but with discreet restraint so as to regulate our application of life so no real noticeable weakness of desire exists.
Nothing but the Spirit of God, for the greater part, controls this person.
The final test is routinely letting go of anything that has the ability to hold us back. It’s positively the ability or capacity to move on—never desiring to look back on what was passed by (i.e. now without much of a thought or second thought).
This balance that we run into as if an enduring season of life—after many years of trial, error, humbling and developing, applying and learning—is the sweet victory of the soul saved to God as a truly spiritual person.
This soul has realised the freedom for which Christ came to give, and in Christ’s saving name he or she goes on, never being restrained to haranguing legalism again. To the glory of God.
© 2009 S. J. Wickham.
 This ‘narrow way’ is, of course, the narrow gate and way of Jesus’ in Matthew 7:13-14.
 See Matthew 5:3 and Psalm 51:17.