Editor's Note: This article summarizes the practical applications of Philip Carlson's recent bookLove Written in Stone: Finding God’s Grace in the Boundaries He Sets(Bethany House, 2011).

Our culture in this fallen world tries to convince you that the “good life” – the life you’ll most enjoy – comes from pursuing pleasure. But God’s biblical commands often stand in stark contrast to pursuing pleasure, so God can seem like a cosmic killjoy who wants to hinder your pursuit of the good life.

By asking you to follow His commands, God isn’t trying to prevent you from living the good life; He’s trying to prevent you from falling victim to dangers He knows can harm you. As your loving Father, God wants what’s best for you – the ultimate “good life” – and that’s only possible when you recognize the love behind His commands and start following them.

So don’t settle for anything less in your life than what’s truly best. Here’s how you can change your perspective on God’s commandments to start living the good life that God intends for you:

Diagnose the problem. Acknowledge the reality that, just like every other human being in our fallen world, you struggle with sin. Understand that God loves you too much to leave you without help to overcome sin, because sin can hurt and destroy you. God intends for you to keep growing in holiness, which will lead you to greater freedom in the process. God’s laws are meant to help you see your need for His help to overcome sin and experience freedom, which He offers through a relationship with Jesus Christ. So realize that your problem – what’s truly holding you back in life – is sin, but God stands ready with the solution if you decide to trust Him.

Forgive. Once you understand your sinful condition, you can understand your need for God’s forgiveness. You don’t deserve forgiveness and can’t earn it, yet God graciously gives it to you anyway whenever you confess and repent of your sins. Since God is always willing to forgive you, who are you to withhold forgiveness from other people? Ask God to help you obey His commands to forgive the people who have hurt or offended you, and to ask the people you have hurt or offended to forgive you. Keep in mind that the forgiveness process involves both the initial decision to forgive and the constant decisions afterward not to let your relationships be defined by the past pain you’ve experienced in them. Pursue forgiveness whether or not others are willing to reconcile with you, since forgiveness is vital for your spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional health.

Be grateful and joyful. No matter what circumstances you’re currently going through, you can choose to be respond with gratitude and joy. While your feelings constantly change just as your circumstances do, you can always count on God to give you the gratitude and joy you need to transcend your feelings and manage difficult situations in faithful ways. Ask God to give you the right perspective on every challenging situation you encounter so you can choose the right attitude about it. Avoid comparing your circumstances with other people’s lives, taking your blessings for granted, and worrying, because those habits will interfere with your ability to experience gratitude and joy. Refuse to allow any circumstances – no matter how difficult – to rob you of the joy of living or keep you from appreciating the gift of God’s presence with you.