Freedom: A Christian’s Privilege

​There is hardly such a thing as being so free as to be able to run your own life in absolute independence — free from the influence and sway of all circumstances; independently free. A man is enslaved to the limitations of this world and his own self, so he cannot claim to be master of these very limitations that hold him back somehow — that is daring to grasp at Deity! Yet, men have managed to figure out innovative ways of postponing the effects of sure circumstances, even if they cannot escape the inevitable hand of such occurences. This postponment has however not taken care of the problem of man’s limitation. Man, sooner or later, has to play to the uncontrollable tune of nature — he has a will that he exercises freely, but only according to its nature. The nature of a corrupt man is a corrupt will; the will does not govern the heart but is governed by the heart’s desires. A man cannot will to stop hating if in his heart he has not desired to stop hating — the heart is the source of the spring of the will. The will is bound to the heart and is a steadfast reflection of its desires. This is why man’s will can never be free to fly as it pleases — because it has a root, that is, the heart. Furthermore, mankind is a moral agent. This means that he is responsible for his own action, and he is accountable to the Moral Law-Giver — the envisioned will gives birth to performed action and this action is measured against a fore-set standard. It’s always back to square one for man — call it limited freedom, if you so wish. Man cannot escape responsibility because he is accountable and he cannot then will freely as his natural acts testify to his corrupt heart. So, where do we then find the libertarian freedom that men so boast to possess? 

Here is how Scripture views it — man is either a slave to righteousness or a slave to sin. A man’s freedom is constrained to whichever state he’s in – freedom to do righteousness or freedom to do sin! Hence, a man can only be either righteous or a sinner. There is no other condition in which a man may be in. To be in sin spells only disaster — a man is bound in it, and thus bound to death. Sinners have absolutely no freedom — they may create multiple illusions which lead only to death and call them free options, yet in truth they have only chosen what was available to them, that is, death. The highest freedom man can ever and shall ever attain is the freedom of the will IN CHRIST (which actually means that he is still bound, but now to Christ Jesus through righteousness). This can only be as a person yields to the Holy Ghost and to the bondage of obedience to the Sovereign Lordship of Christ. This happens only when the man’s heart is changed; given new desires — hence the will is able to choose that which leads to life. The notion of libertarian freedom is destroyed in the sense that men actually either abuse it (those who use their perceived freedom as a license to sin) or they do not have it (those that are still bound to sin). How is it that Christ would tell men who would have freedom of will that they have to deny themselves? If men were free, they would have been encouraged all the more to embrace their nature. Moreover, they would not deny themselves because they could not will aright — they refused because they could not receive; they did not have the power in their will to accept Christ’s words and perform them. That beats the whole notion of libertarian free will of man. Had we such a potent will, Christ would have told us to save ourselves – to hasten and come out of our sorry state using our own power and by our own selves. If we had such free will, the death of Christ was, then, of no use whatsoever. But if we are slaves who needed to be set free from our deep bondage to sin – then, it follows that Christ Jesus came to ransom us, poor and defeated race of Adam, from sin’s bondage. And at what price? His very own blood! 

We have read of a man like Nebuchadnezzar, the great Babylonian king of old, who conquered the whole world but in his bondage could not see how much of a prisoner he really was — a prisoner to his own self and to sin! Did God violate Nebuchadnezzar’s free will when He had the evil king go mad? He was still bound to self — he was in no way free to save himself from his own conceit that he indulged in! It was Ravi Zacharias who rightly said, “We are too possessed by ourselves.” Look at man — take a good look at him. He is too bound up in the current affairs of this world; the temporal peace of this world; the social state of this world; the corruptible treasures of this world; the material goods of this world; the abominable idols of this world; the seductive powers and manipulative influences of this world; the greedy profits of this world; the carnal respect and short-lived approval of this world; the sexual pleasures and temporary comforts of this world; the abusive might and vain knowledge of this world; the crooked dreams and indulgent ambitions of this world. Natural, unregenerate man is too concerned with the present life of this world that is soon to pass away. He wants to rule the world and take of its pleasures — whatever the cost. The result is that he ends up being more wound up in this poor world. Man is a slave to this carnal world and he cannot see his prison until he is set free by God! In fact, he not only cannot set himself free but even this – he willingly entangles himself more and more in the fleeting pleasures and rebellious sin of this wicked age. When it comes to the willingness and the ability to be free, man is dead! Give man true freedom and do you know what he will choose? Filth! Rubbish! Vile and detestable dung is what he desires and so shall have. Corruption! Bondage to wicked sin! Oh, do not be fooled by the outward morality and the kind gestures of civilization; the modest grooming that modern unregenerate man shows to you. He does so because there is a law etched into him that yet holds him back — that reminds him of his moral agency. Were it not for conscience, which God, for His own high purposes and for the sake of preserving man has placed in him, man would long ago have perished! O, the wisdom and mercy of God — who can understand His ways? Man still has some sense of justice and righteousness – but again, being carnal-minded, he holds it in unrighteousness! If left to his own, without the threat of justice and punishment; without the law of God; without the restraining hand of the Almighty; without the reality of death and the torments of hell, mankind would long ago have consumed himself. Which sin is it that man is incapable of doing? All the vile acts that we have heard happened throughout history – were they not committed by a man just like you and I? They certainly were not committed by a demon, or a phantom, or some primitive god, were they? Absolutely not! Man would go as far as killing God — he had the chance and he did not hesitate to take it! Man is the chief perpetrator of sin — bound to it as a slave, he is fully mastered by it. And would he be the corrector of such fault? Can man correct his damnable error? How can a slave correct his master? How can sin destroy itself? Man is incapable of righteousness without the intervening Almighty power of Jehovah! Man, I repeat, is dead — dead to righteousness for he is dead in sin. He is dead in his wretched and damnable sin and Divine Justice requires him to rot in hell for all eternity — justifiably so, for man did commit eternal injury upon the commands of God. Hell and destruction are every man’s portion by right of fairness and justice — BUT GOD. Yes, “but God” — what a sweet conjunction we come across in Holy Writ. God is rich in mercy and loving-kindness. He greatly delights in gloriously displaying these to the universe by saving bound men — by setting the slaves of sin free! What a wonder; what a blessing; what Grace. How indebted to God is the man that is set free indeed. It is that freedom that is only found in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who died that His people might be saved. Truly, whom the Son of God sets free is free indeed. Shall you remain in your bondage, O sinner? Shall you not cry out to this great deliverer of slaves; shall you not beg Him on your knees like a man begging for dear life; shall you not turn to Him by faith and ask that He may grant you this freedom? Has He granted you this freedom — be ever thankful for His grace. May God have mercy upon sinners today, in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen!

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A HOPE THAT DELIVERS!

It has happened to us all. A day has come to pass where a dearly beloved one has been taken away from us never to be seen again in this present life; we have painfully watched as someone we knew and closely, even intimately, related with (maybe someone we couldn’t imagine life without) suddenly succumb to some unexplainably mysterious sleep — the slumber of DEATH! The thing with sleep is that there is the hope of getting back up after a matter of hours (or days in some cases) — such a notion is completely alien to death! It grabs violently, indiscriminately, unexpectedly and with a heart-rending finality. When it speaks, the message is not only clear and resounding, but it cuts through the very hardest of hearts. Death is not a cup of sweet tea — it is more like a bottomless mug of malodorous black mud that has to be ingested; ALL to the last torturous drop! Those affected by it cannot escape the glaring display of its dark art nor the lingering punch of its awful power. Its natural effect is a sorrowful heart and an unsettled mind. “I am so sorry, my bleeding heart”, you pitifully say to yourself. We have all been victim to this giant’s oppression, and shall one day become its sure target. Yes, death in its element is one ugly beast; a leviathan that man has not as yet, in fact shall never (alone), successfully tame. Hence it is incumbent upon every living man to not only consider and prepare himself for this faithful occurence, but to go further if he must hope that death is not the end! Herein lies the crux of the matter — if man shall live after death, what must he do? Furthermore, how shall he go about such an unattainable task? How is it that man can and shall defeat death altogether and have eternal life? Hope, O lovely hope, where art thou?

Hope is a tranquil word. It denotes an optimistic expectation — it is pregnant with life and abundance. It does not only calm the human heart to have hope; it goes further to infuse joy into us. How blessed the hopeful are; how glad their hearts; how settled their minds; how focussed their aspirations; how unshakeable their confidence; how vibrant their life! Yet, mere hope, as it stands alone, disappoints many a time. It disappoints men of business; men of politics; men of tact and wisdom; men of sport; men of dreams and ambitions; men of charisma and influence; men of patience; men of honor; men of valor; men of all tribes of the earth; men of love; men of life. There is not a son of Adam who has not been disappointed by hope in this life. Shall we then put our trust; our confidence in such a hope against mighty and certain death? I ask, is this not hoping against a weak and impotent hope? Death hears no answer from such a penetrable shield. If your hope cannot assure you beyond all shadow of doubt that it shall bear fruit and deliver life to you alive — your hope, if it can even be so called, is swallowed in death! Death is victorious over you and shall continue to be so until you can assure your soul confidently that a hope exists which can clearly injure and kill death. If such a thought seems far-fetched, or even foolish to you, then you would be best suited to live life like a brute animal, for then, if we follow your logic, we all die and are forgotten in the ocean of endless time! Such a person sees no use in hope — what a shriveled life that must be! To all who yearn for the culmination of hope, however, take heart and be joyful. The hope that conquers and that does not disappoint is no myth — such a hope is there for all who see it. And how shall you so see it?

Do you see Christ upon the Cross groaning in pain and crying out to the Father in desperation? Do you see Him die like a mortal, even as graves are opened and many among the dead are brought back to life? Why, do you not see Him cut the illustrious mane of death and dash his goring teeth in with a rod of iron as He takes His rightful keys, burying our sin with death itself? Moreover, what do you make of His glorious awakening by which He condemns death and displays the potent evidence of His sin-swallowing death-vanquishing life-giving body? I submit to you that there are a class of men who shall not be disappointed by hope. Hope has marked them for a prize and a crown for itself. Hope ever lives to be gloriously fulfilled in them — but, in them alone! These blessed men are identified not by the color of their skin, or by an outward physical mark, or by shape or size or intelligence. In fact, these men are not merely identified by how “good” they are — what sets them apart is their Faith, resulting in love which blossom into good deeds and a holy life before God. Christians — we are such heirs, even now possessors of an eternal hope! Christ Jesus, a true Man, has succeeded where none can nor shall. Here is the crown of it — it was all for us; for the true believer. Jesus has ever been in existence, being true God. He never once needed deliverance from cruel death, seeing that He is the eternal One. Consider that there is no wisdom, solution or trap that we can use to overcome death apart from this one Man. He owns it all. Only He can and does save those He will from death. Only He can, if you shall believe, give you the conquering hope. Jesus Christ IS our Living Hope! Such a hope is grounded in Faith in God, Who alone holds and gives eternal life. It is, therefore presently, a confident hope; a delivering hope; an indwelling hope; a saving hope; a glorious hope; a bearing hope; a sure hope. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, with a repentant heart — ’tis the only thing that saves! May God grant you hope in Himself.

Amen!

THE CHRISTIAN’S FORTUNE!

The Christian’s great reward is not that he shall become some sort of superhuman or angelic being; it does not lie in the promise of 72 virgins or of men grovelling under his feet; it does not lie in controlling the elements and in being one with nature; it does not merely lie in tranquil peace and comfort as we are served like awesome gods of the earth; I dare say, it does not lie in glorification as its end! The Christian hunts for an infinitely richer and more valuable game; he forages the world in search of the eternal food. The Saint counts on a transcendent prosperity; his bounty stretches as far as His eye can look and see. This abundant reward is Christ Jesus Himself!

Christ is our great treasure; He is our supreme pleasure; the eternal wage of our quest; the goal of all our existence; the very end of our being alive; the perfect home of rest that we are ever seeking! O, be not mistaken — Satan shall offer you the satisfaction of this earth in exchange for Him; he shall offer all the exhilirating experience of fame and worldly acclaim; he shall offer us worldly thrones and mighty seats to judge his blind subjects and reign with him in the temporal; he shall offer the whole wide world for a prize; he shall give the tribes of lost men into your hand on a silver platter. The devil insists that you take up the successes of conquering an untamed earth at the seemingly trivial cost of following Jesus; he shall hide its wasting appearance and show you its devious allure; pockets full of corrupt money shall bombard your feeble mind; pleasurable experiences of past sin shall replay over and over in your weak heart; the laughter of young and loose girls drunk on wine shall be in your hearing; the temptation to be better than others in all things shall he have you consider. Yet, with what shall we compare the Lord, Christian? Is there a better reward than His very own self? Tell me of it and I shall hear you; speak it with your mouth, Saint, if you dare! Shall you forfeit the appearance of God’s own face for that ugly and filthy rotten system that shall be no more shortly? Shall you love the loose woman in your heart and inherit her wages of death? Shall you or I spend our goods in the summer and have the winter find us without food or shelter? Is that not to depend upon a stinging scorpion for pity? Shall we so sin against the Lord our God as to presently give in to our eternally miserable yet deceitfully short pleasures, whose fruit is sweet in taste but fatally poisonous to our eternal health?

No, beloved Saint of God! It is Christ Jesus that we pursue. That Christ Who is both God and Man, Who having been from eternal days stepped into time and took up the infirmities of the flesh in order to die for us; having died and been buried, He awoke in an undying and perfect resurrection on the third day, securing Salvation for us; Who even now sits at the right hand of power as He awaits the humiliation of His enemies; Who ever so joyfully pleads our case before the Almighty, having experienced our own infirmities, and become our true Brother; Who now knows no sin, no defeat, no pain, no sorrow, no humiliation, no hunger, no thirst, no hopelessness, no death — having undergone all these for our undeserving selves through His obedient life and shameful death; Who never changes nor can lie; Who holds all the world in His Almighty hand; Who is Sovereign Ruler over angels, Omnipotent Judge of all flesh and Gracious Redeemer of His elect; Who, in Glorious fame, lives and shall forever more live to be worshipped by all. This Jesus Christ we shall have, even if we have to give up all our material, even our own precious lives. He has overcome Satan; He has overcome the world; He has overcome sin in the flesh — it is surely done. He has performed these things not for Himself but for His own chosen people, that is, the Church. He has caused us to see Him; to love Him; to obey His Gospel call by Faith; to humbly do His bidding; to love one another in sincerity; to co-inherit the glorious promise of His Father’s vast and everlasting kingdom! Christian, see your Treasure! Saint, see your Portion! Friend, see your eternal Friend! May You have us, dear Lord Jesus. Amen!