Some Thoughts About Freedom

Wayne Jackson

 

Freedom is a word that frequently falls glibly from our tongues. But how often do we take time to reflect upon some of the valuable truths about freedom? Please consider the following observations.

 

Freedom Is Often Taken for Granted

If one considers the world’s history, one might be surprised to learn that freedom is a rare commodity. Man has enslaved his fellows from time immemorial. The legislative documents of the Old Testament (Exo. 21; Lev. 25; Deu. 15), along with the private and public literature of the ancient Near East, reveal that servitude was a common phenomenon in antiquity. In the Roman Empire, during the New Testament era, it has been estimated that there were as many as sixty million slaves. Even today, in our enlightened modern world, millions are enslaved to various forms of tyrannical systems. Unfortunately, it is probably true that many of us in the United States and some Western European countries take our freedom lightly. Almost flippantly, we just assume that freedom is the natural thing. It is not! We serenely assume that we will always enjoy it. We may not! In the past, thousands who have lazily relaxed in the joys of freedom have been rudely awakened to find it wrested from them! Freedom can be transitory for those who fail to appreciate the responsibility connected with it.

 

The Responsibility Connected with Freedom Is Great

One of the Bible’s frequently emphasized truths is God’s sovereignty over the world’s nations. Jehovah rules in the kingdoms of men (Dan. 4:17), removing kings and setting up kings (2:21). He is “ruler over the nations” (Psa. 22:28). The inspired Paul affirmed that God determines the nations’ “appointed seasons” (i.e., how long they endure) and “the bounds of their habitation” (i.e., the extent of their conquests) (Acts 17:26). Moreover, the Scriptures indicate that the Lord judges nations according to their moral character. The writer of Proverbs declares that “Righteousness exalteth a nation; But sin is a reproach to any people” (14:34). The Psalmist exclaimed, “The wicked shall be turned back unto Sheol, Even all the nations that forget God” (9:17). When a nation upholds Jehovah’s principles of truth, justice, and moral integrity, He can grant it freedom and national prosperity. When a country ignores those noble traits that are an intrinsic part of the eternal God and by which He expects men to deal with their contemporaries, the Lord can drive them to their knees by removing their freedom and subjecting them to bondage. Old Testament history is filled with examples of such. The wicked people of Canaan were dispossessed of that land when the cup of their iniquity became full (Gen. 15:16). The Israelites were delivered from the bondage of Egypt and given Canaan. Still, tragically, they lost it when they departed from the Lord’s ways (Jos. 23:15-16). Nineveh was warned of destruction if her citizens did not turn from their evil. By Jonah’s preaching, they turned and were spared for another century and a half until they became corrupt again. The prophet Nahum was dispatched to proclaim their “full end” (Nah. 1:8). Who can forget the great lesson of history that, for lack of six righteous souls, Sodom, Gomorrah, and their neighboring cities were burned from the face of the earth? (Gen. 18:20, 32).

 

The dramatic impression made by these historical facts is this: The greatest contribution any person could make toward the freedom of their country would be to maintain and promote the principles of righteousness consistent with the character of God! If there is a truth that literally shouts from the pages of the Bible, it is this: Freedom is not achieved by military might. The providential care of Almighty God bestows it!

 

Freedom Has Been Greatly Abused

The First Amendment of the Constitution declares:

 

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 

The initial design of this amendment, of course, was to prevent the establishment of a state religion and to inoculate against the type of politico-religious despotic systems so prevalent in much of the world. A modern judiciary has, however, given a woefully foreign interpretation to these words, and freedom has become a license for every type of wickedness imaginable. Consider these examples: (a) Under the guise of “every woman is free to control her own body,” some one million unborn babies are annually deprived of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (b) Sailing under the flag of “freedom of speech and press,” the vilest forms of pornographic books, movies, stage shows, etc., undermine the moral fabric of our nation. (c) A proliferation of “no-fault” divorce laws has ignored God’s timeless principles for the home and has promised a new freedom, which is no freedom at all! (d) “Freedom of religion” is now viewed by many to mean “freedom from religion (and morality)” so “no God,” “man’s naturalistic origin,” and “amorality” are now the order of the day in thousands of classrooms across the nation.

 

All these things, and other such matters, are sterling examples of the abuse of our great freedom bestowed by God. And the bitter fruits of this libertine irresponsibility will inevitably be forthcoming.

 

The Ultimate Freedom That Transcends All Others

God has granted a freedom that surpasses all temporal freedoms, for it pervades man’s heart and provides tranquility of spirit regardless of the difficult circumstances in which one may find himself. It is freedom from sin and the clutch of Satan (John 12:31f; Rom. 6:3-4, 17ff), freedom of anxiety over the frail things of this world (Mat. 6:25ff), and freedom from the fear of death and the uncertainties of the future (Heb. 2:14). This freedom no one can take from you; you only can surrender it! May we be thus determined to maintain this sweet liberty for ourselves and point others to it?

 

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