The Truth About Freedom

Most of us have heard the often used cliche that ‘Freedom isn’t free’ and it will cost you something if you truly desire to be free. The world quickly looks upon us and immediately categorizes us into a group labeled ‘bondage’. The religions of the world (even many within our own so called Apostolic groups) call us ‘legalists’ because of what they deem as unnecessary constraints or rules to living for God. We are in bondage because we can’t (or won’t) do the things they get to do. We are legalists like the pharisees, they claim, because we live for God by rules (as though there are no rules because Jesus already paid the cost). Although these two accounts are somewhat shallow in depth concerning their ‘views’, in a nutshell, they summarize their vicarious perspective of what they ‘see’.

Over the years while teaching US History and Government classes to my high school students I have tried to pound a certain point home concerning the truth about freedom. It is a saying that most of my students hear over and over and over throughout the school year. It is something our Founding Fathers understood. It is something that generations of Americans understood for many years until just recently. It is a principle that most religions understood until about hundred years ago or so. But somewhere along the way, combined with the dumbing down of the American mind and the advent of a pleasure seeking generation, we lost this basic understanding….There is no such thing as an immoral free man!

I’ll say it again. There is NO such thing as an immoral free man. The more that a person is left to himself and allowed to follow his appetites and lusts, then the more laws have to be passed to make sure his lusts are kept in check. Therefore with the creation of more laws comes the creation of more government agencies to make sure those laws are enforced. The creation of more government agencies means government gets bigger and when government gets bigger the people become oppressed and lose their liberties and freedoms. These things do not happen by accident, but all these things happen because of the immorality in the people. This inability of the people to discern between good and evil leaves them laying in a bed of unbridled passions. The more unbridled their appetites become without restraint, the more oppressed society becomes with an overbearing burdening system of government regulation. Solomon said it this way, “For the transgression of a land many are the princes thereof: but by a man of understanding and knowledge the state thereof shall be prolonged.” (Prov 28:2) The way of the transgressor is not only hard for the individual but also for nations who turn their backs on God. George Mason said it this way, “As nations can not be rewarded or punished in the next world they must be in this. Sadly enough, usually the punishment involves the gradual growth of an over zealous and burdening government.

I want to try and back up what I am saying here by quoting some of our Founding Fathers, so bear with me here as we step into their world and their mind set at the time of the American Revolution and a few years after:

Noah Webster

“All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.” [Noah Webster. History. p. 339]

James McHenry

Signer of the Constitution
“Public utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience.

Jedediah Morse

“To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. . . . Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.”

Charles Carroll

signer of the Declaration of Independence
” Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion, whose morality is so sublime and pure…are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments.” [Source: To James McHenry on November 4, 1800.]

Thomas Jefferson

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.” (excerpts are inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial in the nations capital) [Source: Merrill . D. Peterson, ed., Jefferson Writings, (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., 1984), Vol. IV, p. 289. From Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII, 1781.]

Governor Samuel Johnston

“It is apprehended that Jews, Mahometans (Muslims), pagans, etc., may be elected to high offices under the government of the United States. Those who are Mahometans, or any others who are not professors of the Christian religion, can never be elected to the office of President or other high office, [unless] first the people of America lay aside the Christian religion altogether, it may happen. Should this unfortunately take place, the people will choose such men as think as they do themselves. [Elliot’s Debates, Vol. IV, pp 198-199, Governor Samuel Johnston, July 30, 1788 at the North Carolina Ratifying Convention]

Thomas Paine

 ” It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences, and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles: he can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.”
” The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools, in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence. They labor with studied ingenuity to ascribe every thing they behold to innate properties of matter, and jump over all the rest by saying, that matter is eternal.” “The Existence of God–1810”

Benjamin Rush

“I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them…we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government; that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible; for this Divine Book, above all others, constitutes the soul of republicanism.” “By withholding the knowledge of [the Scriptures] from children, we deprive ourselves of the best means of awakening moral sensibility in their minds.” [Letter written (1790’s) in Defense of the Bible in all schools in America]

George Washington

Farewell Address: The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion” …and later: …reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle…

James Madison

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.” — (Federalist No. 51, 8 February 1788)

What powerful words and understanding of the necessity of having a nation flowing with moral principles that can only be derived from the Word of God and Christianity. As James Madison said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary….” but seeing that men are NOT angels and governments are made up of men, there is of a necessity to create checks and balances to check and balance the passions, appetites, and lusts of the men who will obtain any office of political power. The beauty of the Constitution is not that it is so concise and well written, but within it’s make-up is this eternal understanding that permeated through all the minds of the men who wrote the document: It is of a truth that government is made up of men and if left to himself, with no checks on his lusts, he would oppress his fellow man and enslave him. The true beauty of the Constitution is that it incorporates this fact. True freedom can only be derived when human nature is checked and controlled. This is the inherent genius of the Constitution; it was written by our Founders with the intent to maintain a vigilant check upon human nature. John Adams said,

“Power must NEVER be trusted without a check.” Why? Because when a man gains or acquires power, history shows that in the end, he cannot be trusted to maintain that power or office with purity. When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn. (Prov 29:2)

The cliche that ‘freedom isn’t free’ is clearly true and in the end, if we truly desire to be free it will cost us something. As a matter of fact, true freedom will cost us our lives. Which, sadly, is a price that many will not or are not willing to pay. We talk a good talk, but our actions do not match our speech. We enjoy great conversations about the Holy Ghost, but discussion of discipline and constraint is kept to low roar, if even discussed at all. The Apostle Paul said it this way, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” (Phil 3:10) YES! We want to know Him in the power of His resurrection, but we fail to connect these two ingredients. There is no resurrection without a cross. There is no power without stepping into the fellowship of His sufferings. And there is no freedom without a cost.

Most seem to disregard the words of Jesus or let’s just say, they may hear them, but to do them is a whole different story.

“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross , and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?(Matt 16:24-26)

Too many of us are caught up in saving our lives rather than losing our lives for His name’s sake. We find the Word of God too constraining in a world that is so liberal and seemingly ‘free’. We are so apt to shun any preacher that preaches a standard or doctrine that warns about what we put before our eyes and ears. Our images are more important then His image. The image of Jesus on the cross is too painful of an image. In agony He hangs there, looking forlorn, forsaken and all alone, with no one to help Him. We think to ourselves, ‘There is NO WAY that all that blood, guts, and gore will bring freedom!’ We have a hard time seeing beyond the cross. We have difficulty seeing beyond obedience. Our senses create images of eminent death and we buy into the pictures of despair. The voices inside us cry,

“I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?” (Gen 25:32)

This is bondage not to have my desires fulfilled! This is crazy that I can’t go here or do that? Who does that preacher think he is telling me what I can or cannot do? Edmund Burke said,

The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.

In our inability to see beyond the cross, we cave and give in to the appetites of the flesh. When I run, going up hill is always a battle but when I go downhill, there is a momentary reprieve and a certain exhilaration. Like the back slider who walks away from the Truth…it’s exciting…but the excitement is just that… fleeting and brief. That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment? (Job 20:5) Momentarily, we ‘feel’ as though we have obtained true freedom, when in essence we have unlocked the proverbial pandora’s box of bondage and enslavement. Soon we are encompassed with chains of darkness and our eyes have been plucked out by our enemies. I am sure that there was a sense of excitement in Lot’s bosom when he walked away from the oversight and rule of Abraham in his life. The ‘well watered plains of Jordon’ looked like real freedom. No more mountainous terrain to deal with. No more answering to his Uncle Abraham. But about thirteen years later, after being vexed day and night, by what he saw and what he heard, the freedom Lot thought he had obtained was really darkness disguised as freedom. A wolf in sheep’s clothing if you will. I don’t really believe in the beginning that Lot thought he would end up offering his virgin daughters to the queers of Sodom, but these are the things that happen when you don’t understand the truth about freedom. Another Founding Father said it this way,

“If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”

The scripture says that ‘a good man’s steps are ordered of the Lord’. A man who follows after God cannot afford to believe that his appetites and lusts are in any way shape or form the pathway to freedom. A man’s whose steps are ordered of the Lord knows that sin always paints a pretty picture. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth , that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess 2:10-12) This man knows if he gives into his appetites, he might as well put a knife to his throat. Because somewhere down the road, a good man knows he will reap what he has sown. He understands it is a walk by faith and not by sight. His passions and lusts must first be screened by the Word of God and he can not maintain this walk without a preacher. He must have a God called man in his life that will preach what God has sent him to preach. Benjamin Franklin said, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!I am glad the the Lamb of God came to contest the vote! While the religious wolves of Jesus’s day divided and conquered Israel for their lunch, there came a well armed Lamb who kicked open the sepulchers of death and deceit. The Strongman came, He conquered, and He showed us the way to true freedom. Today, in the midst of this untoward generation, we still have an opportunity to truly be free. The promise is still being poured out and if you feel bound today, maybe its because you have not yet examined the truth about freedom. Besides, what has that pottage of lentils really gotten you anyway???

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