The Christian and Liberty, pt. 1

trumphillary

The two mainline candidates of this year’s election represent similar strains of national government authoritarianism, if just from slightly different angles. Both were chosen through a democratic process demonstrating that they represent a large section of the American electorate. The American motto of the U.S. being “the home of the free and the land of the brave,” has been subverted as the country’s prosperity has produced (as it tends to do) a population more and more willing to trade its liberty for security. Not only that but “liberty” has been largely redefined in our progressing times from classical liberal ideas such as the rule of law and private property rights to the notion that freedom is the ability to give in to the more base elements of human nature.

The Bible offers an alternative view of freedom. Because the Bible already guarantees Christians complete security in the things that really matter they can freely pursue the calling on their lives. Free association and property rights are part of the Biblical concept of freedom but more than that the Bible defines freedom as the supernatural ability not to give in to our passions as well as the ability to find contentment in all circumstances. God, not government, provides this freedom in Christ Who died on the cross to free individuals from the penalty and power of sin. From a Biblical standpoint, freedom in regards to sin is of supreme importance.

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are the only truly free individuals that exists. In Christ, positionally, the Christian is utterly free, forgiven, and blessed beyond measure with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3 [ESV]);[1] experientially, however, his freedom is only provisional. Christians must “work out” their own “salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).  Romans 6 explains that the Christian has a choice, and a duty, as to how he will live: as if he were not bought by Christ remaining, then, a slave to sin; or as he is, free in Christ and, therefore, as  an instrument for righteousness (Rom. 6:13).[2] Paul’s encouragement to the Galatians applies to all believers: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).

The liberty that the Christian possesses, he possesses in Christ, not in his American citizenship, not by virtue of a strong national defense, and not thanks to brilliant and charismatic political leaders. In Christ, the believer suffering in a North Korean prison camp[3] is just as free as the Christian walking the streets of Oklahoma City.

[1] The best accounting of just how richly blessed the Christian is that I am aware of is Lewis Sperry Chafer’s, “The Riches of Grace in Christ Jesus (33 Divine Accomplishments in and for the Sinner upon Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ),” available from Wholesome Words Christian Resources, http://www.wholesomewords.org/etexts/chafer/saved.html

[2] The word for “instruments” is  opla, which can also be translated as “tool” or “weapon.” So, those inclined more toward the arts can see themselves as an instrument to decorate the world in a display of righteousness, and those inclined more toward violence can view it as a battle with themselves as the weapon in the fight for righteousness.

[3] Freedom in Christ does not mean that those experiencing the injustice of Communist North Korea are not enduring immense suffering. Ted Thornhill and Luke Garratt, “Shocking sketches emerge of life in North Korea’s gulags showing how prisoners resort to eating mice and snakes and were beaten until they vomited blood,” Daily Mail. 18 February 2014. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2561992/Shocking-sketches-emerge-life-North-Koreas-gulags-showing-prisoners-resort-eating-mice-snakes-beaten-vomited-blood.html

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