Tag Archives: Freedom

Rebellion Judged

Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you. (Psalm 5:10 ESV)

God does not tolerate rebellion against His will. From Adam and Eve to the present and into the future until time ends, people mutiny against God. Those who strive against Him, who disobey His will, are finally separated from Him. God told Adam to not eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17 ESV). God actually said, “die die.”  Eat this fruit and you will die spiritually after you die physically. Spiritual death is separation from Him who gives spiritual life, while continuing to exist. To exist eternally without spiritual nourishment is hell. Psalm 5 is God warning people of the consequences of rebelling against Him.

People do not commit just one sin. Those who are enslaved to sin can only sin. Everything they do springs from the thinking of their hearts, which is corrupted. Every thought, emotion and motivation is against God. Jesus tells those who would believe in Him the truth about sin and salvation. Everyone sins because it is their nature and are therefore under the judgment and wrath of God. In Jesus, God sets people free from the eternal consequences of sin. “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36 ESV). Instead of accepting freedom from sin people chose continued bondage.

One sin brings separation from God. One act of righteousness brings God’s grace and forgiveness to all. “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men”  (Romans 5:18 ESV; see Romans 5:12-21). After there is an understanding of what God has done, and God’s grace is rejected, only one sin is enough to separate the unrepentant sinner from God.

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (Hebrews 6:4-6 ESV)

God gives everyone His image because He wants a relationship with everyone. It is the image of God, through the prompting of the Holy Spirit, which draws people toward God, commanding them to turn away from sin. Those who reject the prompting of the Holy Spirit disobey the command of God. They continue to mutiny and fight against God.

Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.  (Matthew 12:30-21 ESV; see also Mark 3:28-29, Luke 12:8-10, 1 John 5:15-16).

God does not ask for obedience, begging those who are His by creation to stop sinning and be holy. He commands obedience. God never ask any to obey. He expects obedience because He is God. For any to continue to rebel, after knowing what God expects and demands, is an in-His-face act of insubordination.

People are without excuse in their rebellion. Those who are enslaved by sin are given the opportunity of freedom and choose continued slavery. It is the image of God in each person that is the catalyst for change. This change is ignited by the Holy Spirit, who wants relationship, who shows all their place before God. Choosing sin over God means separation from God.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:18-21 ESV)

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Rebellion

Meditations on the Psalms

“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” (Psalm 2:3 ESV)

People do not understand freedom. This is because everyone, whether they realize it or not, are enslaved to sin. Freedom is not the ability to willfully decide to do either right or wrong but the natural, since we are created in the image of God, ability to always do what is right. God determines righteousness according to His divine character. Originally, He embedded this natural ability for righteousness in those created in His image. However, because of Adam’s sin all are corrupted and now only rebel against God with their whole being. People want to be something other than as they were created by Him. How absurd.

God emphasizes the inflexible thinking of those in rebellion against Him with metaphorical language. To burst bonds apart means to snap or violently separate, to tear apart. To cast away means to throw as far as possible, to hurl or shed, the cords, which is a rope or line like that which binds together, as in removing the shackles which have bound and throwing them away in anger. These people view God as a malevolent despot and tyrant, who has and will never give them anything good, nor allow them to pursue their own desires.

Jesus, declares Himself the only way to God. There is no other way. A rebellious worldview and mindset demands Jesus be wrong. Yet, He, being God the Son, cannot be wrong. He upholds God’s justice and declares emphatically that anyone who naturally sins, is a slave to sin.

Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father. (John 8:34-38 ESV)

It is the enslaved, sinful world which views obedience to God as unnatural, abnormal and untenable. And it is the leaders and teachers of the world which train people to rebel against God in specific ways. The natural tendency to sin is found within everyone from birth. Everyone sins because everyone has the bent to rebel against God. But, there are those who train and encourage people to rebel in distinctive ways and by precise means, justifying their rebellion with intellectual and emotional arguments.

Everyone teaches and trains others. Everyone leads and directs others. They may not think they do but every motivation and action coaches people who you are and, in some minor or major way, affects their inner person.

People think freedom is defined by what they believe is true and their decisions to act in a individual way. Our world has trained its population to believe truth, and the perception of truth, is an personal matter which affects no one else. Yet, everything we see, hear, read, think, feel either directs us toward God or away from Him.

The image of God in man is the natural, eternal essence to do that for which God designed people. He gave the image to people so He might have a relationship with them and so they might intimately know Him. He made us a particular way and for any to not fulfill the original purpose of God for them does not mean they are a free agent but are broken, bent in a way which precludes them every doing that for which they were designed.

Those who are rebelling against God want to reduce Him to insignificance or nonexistence. They want to kill Him, if they could. His righteousness and justice are odious to them. There is no one in hell who wants to be with God just as there is no one in heaven who hates being in His presence. The world believes that abdicating the eternal, created relationship with God will bring freedom, which has no evidence in reality.

God allows sin to continue so those who are called by Him and drawn into His presence will know thoroughly the power of corruption brought by sin. They seek truth and are directed by the Holy Spirit to know and embrace truth with the thinking of their hearts. Those who embrace sin have turned truth on its head, demanding and teaching that which is true is a lie and the lie is the truth.

True Freedom

Studies in Genesis 2

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)

God’s first recorded words to Adam were not those of a friend or acquaintance. Nor were they the words of a father to a child. His words were of a God, who owns all He has created, to a created being to whom He has giving authority over part of His creation. “Command” means to give a charge, or a commission, an assignment, a boundary. God spoke to “the man” (adam) setting the wide parameters of what he could eat, not where he could go or what he could do. Adam’s natural inclination is to work, taking care of the creation under his God ordained authority. Part of his work is to grow more fruit-bearing trees. He couldn’t possibly eat all of the food growing on these trees. Adam could eat anything he wanted from any tree except one tree.

God does not treat Adam like all of the other creatures He has created. He speaks to him face to face. “Saying”, in its various forms, means to speak one’s heart, to show intention and promise, to be told, to answer. This is not casual conversation. Yet, God’s words are not mysterious to Adam either. God spoke clearly. Adam understood completely.

God makes a promise in His command. We think of God’s promises as positive, yet He recognizes the propensity of the negative in those created in His image. His intent is to train those who are His to restrain and control the negative they will encounter in themselves, not to suppress the negative. Ultimately, He wants those who have an intimate relationship with Him to know the difference between good and evil and have the freedom to always choose the good. This is true freedom.

His words are not a threat but a statement of fact. This is not a covenant. A covenant is an agreement between two where the greater blesses the lesser, guaranteeing a promised outcome when certain criteria is met. God promises an outcome for disobedience but not for obedience. God’s expectation is for obedience from Adam, not disobedience. He did not create Adam for disobedience but for relationship. God’s omniscience gives Him the foreknowledge that Adam will disobey but this does not mean God created Adam for disobedience.

Adam, like everyone, must grow in his intimate knowledge and intellectual understanding of God. But he had an advantage we cannot ignore. He saw God. Before the fall, Adam was sinless and able to come into, or be in, God’s complete presence. God spoke to Adam face to face. God enjoyed His creation and was intimate with Adam, who was created in His image for relationship and intimacy. Adam enjoyed God. Growing and maturing is not limited to his natural surroundings but to the spiritual realm in which God dwelt. Adam could see there was more than the physical world every time he was in God’s presence. Thus to “eat, eat” shows more than physical food and nourishment just as “die, die” implies more than physical death. There is a spiritual second death just as there is a spiritual food, and by implication, life. Eating from the tree of life brought a second life just as eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as an act of outright rebellion brought spiritual death. God was training Adam to live.

Life and Death

Studies in Genesis 2

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17 ESV)

God uses the word “die” twice in this verse. Many have translated the verse “you shall surely die.” But God actually says “die die.” What does He mean?

“Die” means to have someone killed or executed, to intentionally take the life of another. But, it also means to simply die, or to cease living, because of natural causes. The former is a deliberate act of one person against another while the latter is a natural consequence of mortality. Thus, the phrase probably means that first is physical death followed by execution by God for rebellion. How can anyone die more than once?

From the study of the word “day” in Genesis 1 I have drawn the conclusion a “day” is not a 24 hour period of time. A “day” is a period of time determined by God with a specific beginning and ending time. God accomplishes specific acts of creation on each of the first six days. I also believe God, who exists outside of time, created life mortal, with a beginning and an ending. Birth is the beginning and death is the ending of physical life. He set in motion life according to specific and well defined laws. He is intentionally involved in creation and all created things exist according to His determination. He knows the beginnings and endings of every created thing.

Because the beginning of time suggests an end of time, so the beginning of life, physical life, suggests there is death, or an end of life. Plants, fish, birds and all land animals live, reproduce and die. There is no indication in Genesis 1 that either flora or fauna were created to live without dying.

There are two immediate implications to this line of thinking. First, Adam would know about death. Dying would not be foreign or unexpected but something he had seen firsthand. Death would not have startled him. Secondly, Adam knew he would eventually physically die. His body would live as long as God determined and then he would cease to physically live. He was not afraid of death because he knew death was not final but the beginning of a different life. How did he know this?

Of the uncounted trees in the Garden there were two trees named by God. Adam had permission to eat from every tree but one. Adam had the freedom to eat from the tree of life at any time. Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was prohibited. Disobedience to the single prohibition would bring, not physical death, because he will already die physically, but a different kind of death, an execution where God deliberately caused his further death.

There is a second death.

 

Volition, or, Our Will

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (Genesis 1:26 ESV)

Man is conscious and rational, intellectually aware and able to understand truth. Man has a moral compass, knowing the difference between right and wrong. Combining these pieces of the image of God given with the will gives Man the ability to act in a manner consistent with his function and purpose. Just as God acted upon His determined will so Man is able to put his creative abilities into action and do that which he determines. This is another part of the image of God given Man.

God creates everything with a designed purpose and intellectually precise function. God’s works all have moral excellence and goodness. God acts according to His eternal being which includes perfect intelligence guided by justified and righteous morality.

Through each of the six days of creation, God worked, building a universe specifically designed to show His greatness to Man. We can know only what God has told us about the universe and Man’s place in creation. But, that He created the universe and built the environment of the Earth to sustain and encourage life to prosper, shows willful intent.

God made light. On the Earth, He separated the elements making an environment. He made water, rain, oceans, lakes and rivers. He made vegetation, grasses, trees and plants which needs light and water and an environment to grow. He made the Sun and Moon and determined the days and nights and seasons, showing the progression of time. He made sea creatures and the birds of the air. He made animals. Finally, he made Man.

Man is not an accident of nature.

Giving people a will means they have freedom to act according to the determination of their intelligence and guidance of their moral compass. With the image of God comes the freedom to exercise that image according to the purpose and function of the Great Designer.

Many great people have made deliberate statements about freedom, from Augustine to Peter Marshall. They all talk about doing what is right, not deciding to do that which is wrong. Freedom is not the ability to choose between what is right and what is wrong. Freedom is the predisposition to always choose what is right. We are free to fulfill the purpose and function for which we are designed. Divorcing our wills from our created purpose and function will never give more freedom. For those created by God there is no such thing as more freedom. Our actions are determined by what we think and our understanding of morality.