Men and Women Always Strive for 'Freedom' - But What Is "Freedom"?
People have come up with some interesting definitions of 'freedom.'
George Hegel said,
"Freedom is to be in possession of oneself."
Albert Camus made the following very interesting comment,
"People are prepared to abandon freedom for social justice. But all that happens is that you get a new form of social injustice."
Karl Marx believed that freedom could be attained by destroying the received rule and authority of an elite ruling class over simple workers - just give the simple, humble "workers" the authority and remove it from the elitist wealthy and there you will have a perfect society!
But one of the most interesting quotes about 'freedom' comes from Charles Kingsley. Kingsley said,
"There are two freedoms - the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where a man is free to do what he ought."
Kingsley clearly grasped that "human freedom," seen as complete human self-interest, and/or combined with mental enslavement to a flawed philosophy of life, can be utterly disastrous.
Satan Encouraged Eve to Exercise Freedom...
Most people today are not interested in what happened in the Garden of Eden, since they view that garden as purely mythical. Little do "sophisticated" and "enlightened" moderns know that that garden is no myth and that what happened there has shaped people's attitude to the whole concept of 'freedom.'
The message which the lying serpent taught the first human couple is that human freedom and human independence - especially independence of any concept of the divine or supernatural - are worthy and meritorious ideals. Adam and Eve (literally!) 'swallowed' this belief when they swallowed the forbidden fruit!
The search for human freedom never stops but just as various societies have felt that true freedom was very close and they held out a hand to pluck it, it disappeared! Communism did not bring freedom, but only even greater enslavement; Nazism did not bring freedom although thousands of Germans were taught that it would; Neither did Darwinism bring freedom, indeed, the underlying atheism within this so-called "scientific" creed gave apparent justification to the hideous excesses of the two aforementioned political systems! Meanwhile, the 'permissive society' which liberals believed would finally bring true human freedom at last, has only brought moral depravity, wretchedness and youth suicide levels on a scale undreamed of - yes, even undreamed of in the most impoverished and harsh third world dictatorships.
The problem is that people have only sought 'freedom' according to their own ideals or according to their own wishes or needs. But certainly any concept that 'freedom' can only be achieved by the throwing off of all moral restraints has - in our own highly liberal and permissive age - been blown apart as a valid theory. Like all quests for "human freedom," all that has happened is that another group within society has come under enslavement.
But THERE IS a Way to Freedom...
The way to true freedom is, firstly, to recognise the great lie that "human freedom" may be found within the path of human autonomy and self-interest.
When the first human couple walked and talked with the Lord God they already had true human freedom. But the great lie which came from the Arch Deceiver is that freedom equals no responsibility. On the contrary, freedom can only be attained where people recognise human responsibility. In this, Charles Kingsley's concept of freedom was certainly close to the mark. Indeed, if men and women choose to do whatever they like, that is only the path to anarchy and to eventual Nihilism! But if freedom is sought along the path of bringing the greatest joy and blessings to our fellow men and women, then we at least start out on the right road. However, Karl Marx also believed that his version of freedom would bring the greatest blessings to ordinary men and women so we must make sure that the philosophy is right in the first place. But Marx's philosophy was distorted by hatred, envy and by the conviction that he alone was right. So what is the answer?
The answer is to reject the original satanic lie that men and women should seek their own human knowledge apart from any concept of the supernatural or divine. The "enlightenment" finally rubber-stamped this naive philosophy which it decided to call "scientific" - what the cunning serpent knew, of course, is that where God is rejected, demonic forces move in so Mankind can never operate outside of supernatural influence.
But Jesus of Nazareth came to offer us a road back to true freedom - that true path which - alone - can bring the greatest joy and happiness to men and women! Jesus said,
'...If you hold to my teaching, you really are my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you FREE' (John 8:31-32, NIV - my emphasis).
But the Jews revealed that they only conceived of freedom in human political/philosophical terms, so Jesus quickly clarified what true freedom really is:
'Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."' (John 8:34-36).
But the Jews continued to misunderstand Jesus throughout the remainder of John 8 - check out the entire chapter!
So the message is clear that IT IS SIN WHICH IS THE ENSLAVER. Yes, sin enslaves. It is the sinful tendency in people which makes them come up with their own independent ideas of "freedom" then want to impose those ideas on others. But all of those human conceptions of freedom are inherently flawed. The answer of Scripture is that human sin must be dealt with first - only then do we achieve clear spiritual sight! Jesus came to earth to make this clear spiritual sight available to those who accept the Gospel and who commit their lives to Him. Only with that clear and vivid spiritual sight can we correctly understand what freedom is - and just as importantly, what it is not!
So - just as John 8 tells us - if the 'Son' (Jesus, the Son of God) sets us free from sin, then that alone is true freedom. The eventual alternative is serious indeed: we finally perish and the prospect of Eternal Death looms large for those who continue to stubbornly deny God and refuse to acknowledge the clear reality of human sin!
'"...But unless you repent, you too will all perish."' (Luke 13:5).
Freedom, then, does not and cannot abide with human sinfulness. Satan's great lie is that "freedom" lies in the path of human autonomy devoid of any authority - but therein lies the path to Eternal Death! Yes, freedom - true freedom! - is certainly attainable but it may only be found in the path of sinlessness. Mankind lost the required 'road map' but Jesus Christ opens a door to get us back there. Thereafter Christians start to experience and understand this freedom even in this life whilst understanding that true freedom is the gift of Eternal Life, finally achieved (not by our own efforts, but through divine grace) - beyond the grave...
Is it not worth it?
Robin A. Brace, 2007.