Volume 20, Issue 42 (October 21, 2018)
Freedom or Bondage?
By Kyle Pope
Freedom is a quality that all men hold dear. From the wealthiest Wall Street financier to the impoverished beggar on the streets of Calcutta, every human soul yearns to be free. Yet, what is often misleading about this lust for freedom is the fact that we can fight and struggle to throw off any type of binding restraint only, in reality, to enslave ourselves to other, more restrictive bonds without even realizing it.
Let’s say that we decide that we will refuse to recognize the power civil authorities have over us and we begin to do whatever our heart desires. The first time that we steal we will be forced to learn how to hide. Then, the first time we lie we will have to lean how to “cover our tracks” so that our lie will not be discovered. If we choose to kill, abuse or rape someone, we will be forced to try and escape from the very authority that we refused to recognize in the first place.
What if it is nothing quite so dramatic, but we simply decide that we will say whatever we choose, to whomever we choose? Before long we will find ourselves slapped, cursed, ignored, or alienated from even the most forgiving soul around us. If we decide that we will spend our time purely as we choose, within no time we will find that we have lost our job, had our possessions taken from us, and we will find ourselves clothed in rags and despair. Even when it comes to something as basic as the food that we eat, if we fail to recognize certain basic dietary restrictions we will find ourselves sick, malnourished, grossly overweight, or perhaps even dead. We cannot escape the fact that the world in which we live only stays a step ahead of chaos because of the liberating power of restraint.
Sadly, many people reject this idea. When I was in college I remember studying about a 20th century artist who believed that all modern problems came from the restraints imposed upon society by modern conventions. He believed that if modern society would return to a life controlled by “primitive passions” a utopian existence would be created. As foolish as such a notion sounds, we don’t have to look very far around us to see millions of this man’s unknowing disciples. Who does our culture revere and esteem? Those who are examples of virtue and self-control—or those who indulge themselves in the most vile and carnal conduct one could imagine? We ask such people the question—Are the problems we witness in society really the result of too much restraint or too much unbridled passion?
When my wife and I lived in Missouri many young couples were able to get into their first home through buying older houses that had been refurbished in an older section of town. Although the area itself was beautiful, the shift of new businesses to other areas of town had left this area of town subject to high crime rates, vandalism, and drug abuse. The years that we lived there were very educational. Sadly we saw many people around us who lived their entire lives subjugated to their own passions and lack of self-restraint. We saw teenage, single mothers and little children with vulgar and obscene mouths. We saw full-grown adults captivated by their own anger, covetousness, depression, lust, or intoxication. We saw plenty of “primitive passion” but no Utopia came from their lack of restraint.
The Holy Spirit declared centuries ago—“Where there is no revelation the people cast off restraint; but happy is he who keeps the law” (Proverbs 29:18 NKJV). When mankind chooses to ignore the revealed truth of God’s word, what results is not Utopia, but chaos leading to punishment. To ignore the revealed law of God through Jesus Christ leads mankind not only to a miserable, chaotic, and unhappy lives here, but in the age to come, punishment and eternal separation from God. While all of us like freedom, we must realize that true freedom comes when we free ourselves from the enslavement to the corruption of this present world by submitting ourselves wholeheartedly to Jesus Christ (see 2 Peter 1:2-4). In the Gospel of John, Jesus told some Jews who believed in hum—“If you abide in My word you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (8:31,32). Their reaction, was similar to the reaction we might expect to here today. They said—“We are Abraham’s descendents and have never been in bondage to anyone” (8:33). Today we might have put it—“We are Americans – it’s a free country!” Jesus revealed to them what people often fail to realize—“Whoever commits sin is a slave to sin” (8:34). People may think that they are free but it is just an illusion. Whenever we sin, we place ourselves into slavery to sin to obey its will and its wishes and to ultimately reap its rewards—“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
You may go through your entire life feeling that you are free because you haven’t “restricted” yourself with all that is involved in service to the Lord, but if you have sinned (which all of us have – see Romans 3:23) then you are really enslaved. Please open your eyes before it is eternally too late. Submit yourself to God, in Jesus Christ. Only in Christ can you hope to find true freedom and in the end eternal life. Jesus said—“If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 6:36).