Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Meaning of Freedom - Remembering Indian Freedom Struggle (65th Anniversary of Glorious Independence, 2011)

The word “Freedom” is a popular word and has been used more than ever since the decision to dismantle the Berlin Wall. The United States is often referred to as “the champion of freedom.”  Since the waning of the cold war, it could be said that there is truth to the statement. Certainly, Americans believe this to be true as each year, around July 4, they wave flags, plan cookouts, and quote George Washington and Patrick Henry.

Psychologists tell us that one of the vital ingredients of mental normalcy is an innate sense of freedom. Man has a built-in yearning to be free. Since we love the word “Freedom” and have a need for freedom, what is it? Allow me to present three views of freedom from St. John 8:31-36:-    

We have this political freedom in democracies. Today, many interpret the freedom that our Founding Fathers gave us as a licentious freedom. But that is not our heritage! The Pilgrims came to North America “in order to have the freedom of worship according to the dictates of their conscience, free from governmental oppression”.  Later, millions came from Europe for political freedom and the chance to make a living. They came to escape Nazi oppression. Then, they came from Communist countries to gain political and economic freedom. The inscription on the Statue of Liberty says,

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free

We are also seeing it in Eastern Europe. With elation we watched the Berlin Wall coming down as the winds of change swept through Communist Europe. Now, we are seeing the domino theory in reversed Freedom has been making significant inroads even in the Soviet Union. What an opportunity the church has to extend our influence to world areas that have been closed to the gospel. Political freedom has always been good for the church. But, mankind yearns for a greater freedom than political freedom.

One sense of the word “Libertarian” can be characterized by this- “I can do anything that I please” expression, which speaks of boundless freedom.

In the name of freedom, people are saying, “I can have an abortion” or “I can indulge in any sexual practice that I please. Therefore, I can practice homosexuality (gay-sexuality or lesbian-sexuality)” or “I can enjoy pornography, even child pornography. Furthermore, I should be allowed to see it on television” or “I can simply get a divorce if I grow tired of my spouse” or “I can take drugs” or “I can burn my country’s flag” and on and on. It’s crystal clear, to these people, freedom means “license to do anything they desire or like.”

In Scripture, we have a classic example of the prodigal son, an individual who demanded liberty (freedom) to live without restraint (Luke 15:11-32). By the world’s standards, this young man had it all- plenty of money and no more rules by which to live. He left home and lived licentiously. That so-called “freedom only led to bondage” and he became a pigpen.

Just like the story of prodigal son, this is always the end of licentious freedom. The freedom to use drugs leads to terrible bondage. The freedom to get a divorce for no reason leads to broken family. Free sex leads to disease, pain, bondage and over-dosed or death. Pornography has proven to be one of the most enslaving devices in the world. Jesus has already warned us, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34).

The prodigal son could have said, “This is my life. Therefore, I will do as I please! What I do is my business. My sin doesn’t hurt anyone but me!”  Not so! He was breaking his father’s heart! Not only does freedom to sin hurt you, but also others usually get hurt. It breaks the heart of God. We do not sin in isolation; therefore, we are not free to sin.

As God has created a spiritual being, man possesses an innate need for spiritual freedom. People can never find complete satisfaction and fulfillment until this need for spiritual freedom has been satisfied. We can live without political freedom. Many have. But we cannot live without spiritual freedom. The Bible tells us, “If the Son sets (us) free, (we) will be free indeed” (John 8:36). We cannot be “free indeed” apart from spiritual freedom. Christians testify with statements like, “I am so glad that I am saved. Christ has set me free”  Free from what? What is spiritual freedom? Spiritual freedom means two things:-

4.1. Freedom from spiritual ignorance (John 8:31):-
Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (vv.31-32). Conversely, if you are ignorant concerning His teaching and truth, then you are in bondage.

Suppose a generous person said to me, “I want to give you a very special gift” Then, he blindfolded me and took me to the airport. And upon arriving there, he took the blindfold off. To my amazement, I saw before me a brand-new Lear jet. The person said, “The jet is yours! Go on, try it out!”

This would be wonderful but for a tiny little problem. I don’t know the first thing about flying! The best I could do is sit in the pilot’s seat. Beyond that, I would be lost. All of the instruments and dials would make no sense to me. I would be in bondage because of my ignorance. My ignorance would keep me earthbound.

Let me give another example. Suppose I respond to an advertisement seeking a computer programmer, and I go for an interview and say, “This job offers the pay that I need, so here I am.”  Then, the interviewer asks the basic questions, “What experience have you had? What do you know about computers?” If I say, “I don’t know anything about computers, but I do know a lot about vacuum cleaners!” It is highly doubtful that I would get that job. Why? Because, my ignorance concerning computers would hamper and bind me from getting the job.

In most cases, what is true on the natural level is also true on the spiritual level.  The person who does not know spiritual things is bound. You may be a mathematical genius, yet be bound by ignorance of spiritual things. The solution is to be set free from ignorance. That comes through knowing the truth, and the truth will set you free.

When man rejects truth, he thereby becomes willfully bound. That’s the situation in John 8. The Jews were rejecting the truth. In fact, they denied that they were in bondage or they had ever been in bondage because they were “Abraham’s descendants” (John 8:.33). They were wrong, of course, on two counts:- (1). They were in spiritual bondage, and (2). They had been in political bondage under Egyptians, Babylonians, and Romans. These people were not very wise. They had neither political freedom nor spiritual freedom. “Spiritual freedom means freedom from spiritual ignorance”.

4.2. There Is freedom from sin (John 8:34):-
Our Lord Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:.34). A sinner is enslaved. Deep down he senses this and yearns to be free. There is something about human nature and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that makes a sinner realize that he is not free. He tries to get over it, under it, or around it, but he cannot, because he is bound.

One of Satan’s biggest lies is the notion that freedom means, “I can do anything that I please.”  That leads to moral anarchy, which, in turn, leads to terrible pain and bondage. Even Socrates, a pagan philosopher asked a Bishop, “How can you call a man free when his pleasures rule over him?” The answer is found in the Scripture, read Romans 6:17-23, & 2 Peter 2:18-19.

Freedom is something that man yearns for. However, freedom does not mean that I can do anything that please. That’s moral anarchy. It leads to opposite of freedom-bondage. Deep down from my heart, I really thank God for the political freedom we enjoy in our country, but a far, far more important freedom is spiritual freedom. That only comes through knowing the truth that is in Christ Jesus. If we had to, we could live without political freedom, as many have, but we cannot live without spiritual freedom. So, live the real life, the everlasting life.



Popular Posts