Freedom!

Freedom

There are many kinds of freedom and many kinds of slavery. We can experience both at the same time. For example, we can be free in our spirit and souls, yet be physically enslaved by a government that does not recognize our God or our beliefs.

Recently, in the United States, executive decrees have been declared suspending or limiting the constitutional freedoms once enjoyed by its citizens. The government of the day has professed that such measures are necessary to protect citizens from the current Coronavirus.

I am concerned that such meddling with the civil liberties of citizens is a guise for powerful men and women with ulterior motives. Many, of these in power, announced in their campaigns for office that they wanted to change America. Some are openly admitting they don’t want to waste their opportunity with this pandemic to do just that thing.

As a result of their decrees, normal citizens are being watched as never before. Our computer traffic is monitored and in some cases blocked. Cameras are everywhere, even on drones, and people are arrested if they gather outside of their homes. Neighbors are turning in their neighbors if they think they are violating a lockdown order. The law is whatever a governor, judge, or mayor declares it to be instead of what Congress or the Constitution says it is.

This is not the same freedom-loving America I grew up in. At one time, people celebrated their freedom and died to retain it. But now, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and the right to bear arms are in danger of being reduced to no public expression of religion, only 10 people can assemble, only politically correct speech is permissible, and only the government can have guns.

Prayer has been taken out of the schools and Jesus is being taken out of public prayers and religious holidays to keep from offending unbelievers. The day is fast approaching when even those who serve in the pulpits of our churches will be censured by the government or suffer severe consequences. Already, such a censure was attempted by the homosexual community. They also tried to pass laws making parts of the Bible “hate literature”.

Ronald Reagan said, “I believe with all my heart that standing up for America means standing up for the God who has so blessed our land. We need God’s help to guide our nation through stormy seas. We can’t expect Him to protect America in a crisis if we just leave Him over on the shelf in our day-to-day living.”

Brothers and sisters, this country is in trouble. Unless God intervenes with a supernatural movement, bringing repentance, America will continue to decline. We will lose our freedoms, and ultimately submit to slavery to avoid imprisonment or death.

In 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, said this about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2000 years earlier, “A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”

His research showed that nations always progressed from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy, and from apathy to bondage.

I believe that we, in America, are about to complete this cycle and that we may be witness to a sequence of events that leads us into bondage or slavery to a tyrannical government.

However, there is hope. As we can see from this research, the key to preventing bondage is spiritual faith. That is what will make America great again.

But, is the American Christian Church faithful and courageous enough to prevent this decline? Or, has it become so lukewarm to Christ, so complacent with sin, and so apathetic to this decline that it has no power left to affect current events?

The answers lie within ourselves. God promised to heal our land if we would humble ourselves, repent, and pray (2 Chron. 7:14). I hear talk about praying, but I don’t hear anything about humbling ourselves and repenting. Each of us must examine ourselves.

Romans 6:1-7 What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with that we should no longer be slaves to sin because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

Our forefathers gave us the freedom we have in America. Jesus gave us the ultimate freedom: to be free from sin and to live in God’s Kingdom.

Galatians 5:1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

We must guard our freedom in Christ. Let us never shrink from the Master’s call when He commands us to battle the enemy of sin wherever it raises its ugly head against the Truth of God’s Word.

John 8:31-36 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Jesus enables us to be free from the bondage of sin. He frees us from the deceptions and temptations of the Devil. He gives us the freedom to become all that God the Father wants us to be. But to remain in the freedom He gives, Jesus tells us to abide in His Word. Obey what He said and we will remain free. If we disobey, we will become a slave to sin again.

Jesus’ messages were down–to-earth, practical, meaningful, and covered all facets of life. Whenever Jesus was talking to the crowds or preaching to them, they knew He was concerned about their welfare and the oppression they experienced because of sin and Roman rule. He told them about a better way of life in the Kingdom of God.

Matthew 6:33 Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

However, the people did not understand the Kingdom of God.

Luke 17:20-21 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

We don’t have to go anywhere to be in the Kingdom of God. But you say, “I can’t see it.”

John 3:3-8 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Clement of Alexandria explained being born again of the Spirit this way in the 3rd century: “But when one joins God’s people, one has a different country and a different lawgiver.”

1 Peter 2:9-12 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

We are ambassadors of the Kingdom of God, in a strange land. We are to proclaim Jesus Christ with everything we say and do. But, we are ineffective if we continue to sin.

Therefore, instead of looking to our constitution for our rights and freedom, we have to look to Scripture. We have to live by Biblical commandments instead of constitutional amendments to be truly free in the Kingdom of God.

For too long, we have clouded the pursuit of happiness with money and possessions. This is incompatible with the Kingdom of God. As believers, we must remember that anything we have is never really ours in the first place. We are simply trustees of what the Lord has given us. True happiness and joy are found in Christ alone.

We have “rights” in this strange land, called America, only because the government has said we have them, but notice how quickly these same rights are taken away, or abused?

One of those imperiled rights is the freedom of speech. The Church must speak God’s truth even when the government of the day no longer wishes to hear it.

Acts 4:18-20 So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

When we come to Christ, our speech is no longer our own. It is no longer a freedom to be used at will. Our speech is to be tamed and bridled by the Holy Spirit, not by government, as a means to speak life. That life is Jesus Christ, and we have to speak about Him.

James 1:26 If anyone considers himself religious, and yet does not keep a tight rein his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.

Our right to freedom of speech is subject to God’s eternal purpose as are any other of our “rights.” Many times there is more wisdom in silence than in speech. Jesus told us He only said what he heard the Father saying.

John 12:49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak.

For the follower of Christ, it is not only a matter of ‘saying or not saying’, but also what we say and how we say it. For us, it is about saying “in like manner” as the Lord would say. Our speech should be loving, uplifting, and wholesome.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Our mouth and speech are for praising the Lord and strengthening His Body. Listen to what the Psalmist says about his “freedom of speech”.

Psalm 39:1 I said, “I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle while the wicked are in my presence.”

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.

And Paul reiterates these sentiments in Colossians 3:8-10 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

While God gives us immense freedom, He also demands obedience. Christ calls us to obedience to His commandments rather than to constitutional rights and governmental decrees. Jesus told us how to balance living under man’s laws and God’s laws.

Luke 20:25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Romans 13:6-7 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Because Christ is our King and a higher authority than any government authority, we give honor to the government. We honor life because of Him who gives life. We honor freedom because it is for freedom He set us free. And we honor the pursuit of happiness, because we understand that there is no greater joy than the pursuit of Christ.

Romans 12:9-10 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.

However, just because the government says you can’t do something doesn’t mean you honor it by not doing it (i.e. pray and witness about Jesus in public).

Likewise, just because the government says you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it (i.e. abortion, homosexuality).

When you begin to look at your “rights” through the lens of Eternity, Scripture, and God’s eternal purpose, it changes your perspective of freedom and “right and wrong”.

God is looking to create something more than a group of American loyalists. He is building a spiritual Kingdom, with believers from all across the globe. We are to be loyal to Him and to honor one another in His Kingdom.

Therefore, let’s look to Biblical commands for our way of life, instead of societal constructions. That is the only way we can affect society. We must not let society dictate how we live.

Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who is doing more than we see through our fragmented lens of current events. The King of Kings is arranging all things for His return.

Remember John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Has Jesus set you free? Are you free from sin, fear, the world, and the devil?

If not, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son who sets us free by His atonement on the Cross. Give your life to Him by repenting of your sin and dying to your self-rule by following Jesus in baptism. You will be born again of the Spirit into the Kingdom of God, where true freedom reigns.