It has been a wonderful blessing to enjoy the freedoms of the United States of America. Our land has been a blessed land of prosperity, opportunity, privilege and advancements in a level of comfort few in man’s history of enjoyed. Shelves are filled with a bounty of food, technology, wares, apparels, and almost everything imagined in the human desire. The foundation of our country was founded upon a need to allow the individual to express himself within the boundaries of his own desires and needs. As the young country grew it experienced the birth pains of a nation filled with a youthful spirit of promise and hope for a better life. The pursuit of happiness was the American dream. “Let freedom ring” was the mantra on the voices of millions. And for many years, “God bless America” had meaning.
In the process of growth there comes pain. Often this pain comes from the natural needs of change. More often the pain comes from the abuse of freedom in the process of growth. The ideals of the founding fathers were based upon a simple idea of self-determination and were guided most frequently by a knowledge of the Creator. The Bible was a respected source of knowledge both as a guide and a book of law that helped form the foundation of our constitution. The more freedom was given the more freedom man took. Our world today looks little like the pursuit of self-determination envisioned in 1776; it represents more the relativism of a society that Thaxter Dickey described as “necessary for those who put their own pleasures above everything else … [eliminating] a standard moral compass and lets people plot their own random but convenient course through life’s ethical issues” (Challenges of Our Times; Florida College Annual Lectures, February 4-7, 2008; pg 12)
Freedom cannot be defined by a simple idea that I am free to do what I desire. Freedom to live as we wish is an allusion; a myth; a lie! There is no absolute freedom. When we loose ourselves from the supposed bondage of God we find ourselves entrapped in the slavery of Satan. Paul writes, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness” (Romans 6:16)? We are a slave to either the righteousness of God or the ungodly nature of the devil. We serve in the army of one of those camps. There are two paths to walk in life: the narrow way and the broad way (Matthew 7:13-14). It is mere propaganda to believe that freedom has no consequence. Freedom comes with duty.
Adam and Eve were free in the Garden of Eden to eat of every tree of the garden “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Their freedom came with the duty to obey the Lord. While the focus is given to the tree of knowledge of good and evil and how Eve and then Adam took of the forbidden fruit; lost is the reality their freedom allowed them to eat of 99% of the trees in the garden. Satan convinced Eve that God was being unfair to limit the 1% and she should ignore the law. She did. He did. The freedom they wanted was an allusion because when they gave up their allegiance to Jehovah God they were enslaved with a cruel task master referred to as the “Great Serpent” (Revelation 12:9).
The Lord has always given man freedom but this freedom comes with the diligence of duty. We are free to drive our machines on the highways but without laws there would be chaos and death. Freedom has restraints. Freedom has duty. In our relationship with God we are free (John 8:32) but that freedom comes with our obedience to the will of God (Luke 6:46). God desires all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and within the grace of His laws man is preserved in peace and contentment. John reminds all men the character of God’s law: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).
Freedom is not freedom from law. Every ship needs a compass and every society needs a moral compass to guide them. The red-white-blue of freedom is not without cost and requires law keeping. Through the grace of God Jesus Christ set us free and yet enslaved our hearts to the will of God. “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18). Freedom in Christ does not free one from the law of God but binds him to the covenant with the Lord. “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).
Thomas Huxley wrote, “A man’s worst difficulties begin when he is able to do as he likes.” Freedom without law becomes chaos. The heavenly hosts of sun, moon and stars are not free to roam about where they wish or the world would have never survived. The design of nature is in an orderly fashion and chaos ensues when men try to circumvent the natural pattern (Romans 1:26). Freedom to the American mind is likened to the days of judges when it says, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). That is not freedom – that is lawlessness.
The mantle of freedom can only be worn by those who are subjected to the will of that freedom. To be in Christ is to live in the grace, mercy and will of the Father. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:21-23).