Def: A paradox is a logically self-contradictory statement or a statement that runs contrary to one’s expectation.
As I sit outside reading and thinking, I look up and see a jet-passenger plane, probably full of people, flying away to the North. They are enjoying their freedom to travel.
But how does this freedom relate to the Christian? Sadly, very few of us truly understand the freedom we have in Jesus. Even those who claim to know it often fall back into bondage and confusion. We may stumble across this “hidden treasure” (Mat. 13:44; Proverbs 2:1-5; Col. 2:2-3) and, not recognizing its value, we continue our worldly pursuits. We are like a slave who was set free but chooses to remain in bondage or like a dog who returns to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11; 2 Peter 2:22).
The Illusion of Worldly Freedom
Are those travelers who are disappearing into the North really experiencing freedom? They think so! But even among those passengers who profess to be Christian, most are likely not living in the freedom that Jesus gave them. Why is that? What is Christian freedom? Is it just a declaration we made when we were saved or baptized? Unfortunately, our freedom is seldom explained from the pulpit and is often redefined to enforce institutional conformity or political liberty.
The Rejection of Divine Freedom
This freedom is illustrated in the story of Moses’ escape from Egypt and his leading the Israelites through the desert. This story, and others like it, are God’s repeated attempts to show His children their privileged status and to make it effective for us today through the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. The sad part of the story is that it is a gift that people have rejected. Psychologically, real spiritual freedom seems unattainable and creates a fear that is associated with insanity. It challenges our human attempts at independence and political power and encourages us to believe that this elusive Christian freedom is impossible or even ridiculous. What this freedom implies is beyond our reach and refused by the majority, which is their rejection of real biblical freedom. Christ has asked us to perform a daring feat of trust without a safety net and we decline.
The Distortion of Biblical Revelation
Our human way of thinking is almost exclusively used to understand biblical revelation, at least since the 2nd century. We dissect, divide, and compartmentalize it so that we can make sense of what we read with the veiled idea that we now understand it. Everything must be logical and make sense to our human minds. In our temptation to make sense of something spiritual, we deceive ourselves and unconsciously align ourselves with the world. Our human goal is to manipulate and mold this spiritual revelation into something acceptable, applicable, and accessible to our fallen nature; in doing so, we have falsified and inverted the revelation.
The Desire for Human Unity
Humans want to be accepted; they want to be part of something: a family, a club, a fraternity, a people, a nation, etc. Isolation is anathema. Unity is a basic human desire. This desire is what drives cults, denominations, and whole communities. All of this is driven by the human spirit and not the Holy Spirit.
The Corruption of the Church
How has Christianity gone through such a transformation? Didn’t Jesus say, “I am with you always even to the end”? And He also promised to send His Spirit to help us. How, with such guarantees, has the Church been so misinformed and corrupted?
The Failure of End-Time Christianity
I cannot accept the references to the Anabaptists as the invisible Church. Nor can I accept that God is present in the many wars of liberation and revolutions and parades His saints around in military uniforms stained with enemy blood, medals of valor, and the stench of death. No! A hundred times no! All these human presentations are the opposite of what God has accomplished in Jesus Christ. Where is the true representation of Christ in the world? Why are we experiencing the exact opposite: a Christianity modeled after the world? All this failure does not represent what God has done but rather confirms the prophesied end-time failure of the Church. We can interpret the current condition however we want, but prophecy illuminates a massive end-time failure of the Church!
The Challenge of Living in Freedom
The question remains: what impact has the revelation had on your life? Have you been liberated, or are you a participant in a grand scheme to keep you imprisoned? How do you understand the freedom you have in Christ? The action of Christ takes effect in our daily lives as we “work out” (Phil. 2:12-13) our salvation and freedom. But this means that we can also make our lives sterile through ignorance of His gift. Because of this enduring freedom, there is always a renewed possibility of attaining freedom.
The Misunderstanding of Christian Freedom
When people find confusing elements within the revelation of God, they will invariably resort to intellect, doctrine, and theology to understand it. Very quickly, the Church, after the first century, found itself questioning a supernatural understanding and resorting to natural human logic to decipher what appeared to be coded language. The natural man demands an understanding that is easily applicable to his mere human mind. Consequently, the demand of Christ to “Be ye perfect” (Mat. 5:48; Heb. 6:1) is incomprehensible and reduced to something more easily consumed. Jesus must be exaggerating and merely exercising a little stagecraft for effect. Perfection is impossible so He must have meant “just try really hard”. So commentators and theologians convince us to use a little creative interpretation to supplement our reading and understanding. And this is where human logic has gotten us today. And this is the reason the Church is powerless (there may be other reasons also) and hungry and satisfied with a bowl of potage and disinherited, while a few who appear unworthy are ushered into the kingdom ahead of them.
The Danger of Giving Up Freedom
So, let’s say that we do understand the revelation of real freedom. But just because we have been freed doesn’t mean that we cannot restore power to the adversary. This is why we need to understand something about “hope”; we are saved in hope (Jeremiah 14:8; Hosea 6:4; Isaiah 43:3). We are really saved; salvation is real. But this salvation must be lived out in experience. If we backslide, we can once again become sterile. We are saved in the hope of glory.
The Power of Living in Freedom
Freedom is more than becoming a signpost that symbolizes something we have read in the Scriptures. Freedom is more than a Christian community that serves itself and separates from the world. Freedom includes going into the world, breaking up the fallow ground, tilling the barren soil, and planting seeds. Freedom is to risk real faith that Christ can bring forth life from death. We have been freed to use all our gifts to promote a kingdom not of this world. This freedom can only be real and actualized by the personal actions of professing Christians. Christians have the power to both open and close doors of opportunity and freedom. But if our hope is sterile, the door will remain closed and the signpost will be removed, and we slip into politics and organizational activities, regardless of our associations, dress codes, or separateness. Christian freedom is a manifestation of heaven that exists now in the present and is expressed in a real, living hope (Titus 3:7). Our inheritance in Christ is released in real hope. We have been freed from tradition and the law.
The Joy of Living in Freedom
In direct proportion to our personal revelation of Christ in our hearts, the veil is “taken away” (2 Cor. 3:12-18). This revelation and conversion set us free. Freedom has freed us to pursue a real future. We are no longer connected to the world through social structures or individual personalities or through confusing chains of events. Nothing is settled for us unless we choose to settle the account. We are free to elect a different future for ourselves.
The Responsibility of Living in Freedom
But freedom also comes with accountability. Didn’t Paul criticize the Corinthians for abusing their freedom and warn them that this freedom could lead to failure? Having understanding means that the Christian is necessarily placed in the position of constantly having to make proper choices. The world offers endless temptations and dangers to stifle the practice of this powerful gift. The result, for many Christians, is that this elusive freedom is very hard to maintain. In this regard, many expositors and professors have circled the wagons to restrict and hide any attempt at practicing Christian freedom in Christ. The result is that this freedom has been reduced to a formula as a means of sidestepping and discounting true Christian freedom in Christ.
To itemize all the different ways Christians discount true freedom is beyond the scope of this short article, so I will go right to the heart of the issue.
What is salvation if we have not been delivered from the absolute dictates of God’s legal system? We have been set free! Because of a lack of understanding of Christian freedom, we conceive of a freedom that is little different than the freedom experienced through politics, economics, or anarchy. But the freedom we have in Christ has nothing at all to do with freedom as defined by the world. The freedom attained through Christ is absolute and perfect.
To begin with, I will state that I am just as guilty as anyone of not fully possessing this freedom. We are too easily satisfied, like Esau (Gen. 25:29-34), with a cup of stew when we own the whole restaurant. Let me explain.
The Awakening of Christian Freedom
But after two thousand years, a few are beginning, again, to ask questions. Modern Christianity has become scarcely more than psychological conditioning and conversion than rebirth and new life. People are required to act in a certain way depending on their location and ability.
The Collapse of Christian Freedom in the Modern Age
“Christendom is an effort of the human race to go back to walking on all fours, to get rid of Christianity, to do it knavishly under the pretext that this is Christianity, claiming that it is Christianity perfected.”
“The Christianity of Christendom . . . takes away from Christianity the offense, the paradox, etc., and instead of that introduces probability, the plainly comprehensible. That is, it transforms Christianity into something entirely different from what it is in the New Testament, yea, into exactly the opposite; and this is the Christianity of Christendom, of us men.”
KIERKEGAARD, “THE INSTANT” 5, 2-3
In Part 1 of this article, the emphasis was placed on defining freedom and the reality and neglect of this freedom in the daily life of the Christian. I now want to place the focus on the discernment and application of this freedom along with the confession and exposition of its almost total collapse in the age that we live in. There is a direct link between our Christian freedom and how we view and utilize technology, education, and science, in the world. The threat to Christian freedom is very real and has already, over the past many years, received irreversible harm to the proper Christian mindset. The harm is so complete that it is now viewed as normal and accepted without question in all Christian circles. Today, Biblical expositors and commentaries simply explain away the miraculous and difficult language of the text as suspicious and questionable. Even amongst those who should know better the truth is compromised and dismissed.
The Transformation of Christianity’s Book into a Designer Product
Why has Christianity become the parent of a culture that is opposite to the book it claims to follow? The Book has been transformed into a designer product and reinterpreted according to the progressive practices of modern-day Christianity and the Church. Meanwhile, critics remain silent.
The Role of Psychological Conditioning in Christianity
Christianity has been around for 2000 years, and few people will acknowledge a problem and ask questions. Instead of conversion and rebirth, Christianity has become just a psychological conditioning. People are required to act in a certain way depending on their location, denomination, and abilities. Some secular artists have written poems and songs searching for answers, like the Beatles’ song “Eleanor Rigby,” which was written by Paul McCartney and John Lennon in 1966. The song is a commentary on human loneliness and isolation that many people feel in modern society; it was an induced hallucinogenic vision witnessed through a veil of darkness. Psychological conditioning in Christianity, likewise, refers to the process of shaping an individual’s behavior and beliefs through various religious teachings and practices. It is a way of socializing people into the Christian faith by shaping behavioral thoughts and emotions externally. Some “Christian” psychologists argue that psychological conditioning can be used to help people develop a deeper relationship with God and others. Others argue that it can be used to manipulate people and control their behavior for any purpose. One of the modern and most dangerous and disheartening illusions is the confusion of true freedom in the fight against Liberal politics when the real enemy is Christian psychology, sociology, and technological conditioning by those who believe they are searching for real freedom. Their shifting position is the continual need to understand and realign their supposed freedom inside a closed system, not knowing the door of their understanding is locked and sealed.
The Dichotomy Between the World of Sight and Sound and the World of the Spirit in Christianity
Is it possible to achieve perfection and freedom as defined in the Bible? We are all different and free to choose our own path. However, if freedom is so wonderful, why don’t we hear more about it from the pulpit? Mankind lives in a world of sight and sound and looks for answers within the confines of a world that can be seen and touched. Christ calls us out of this world into a world of the Spirit which is seen and comprehended through other eyes, the eyes of faith and trust. The fleshly man is compelled by rules and laws, family and Church pressure, his environment, self-values, and self-worth, which needs to conform to man’s definition of freedom.
The Importance of Pleasing God in Christianity
Abraham was a free man who trusted completely in God. Abraham, who roamed wherever God led him lived in a moveable home called a tent, and he gave to Lot, his nephew, the choicest land without any reluctance or remorse. God had revealed Himself to Abraham, so he believed God and understood freedom. Therefore, he was free to give and please God through his own charitable gift. The veil of selfishness had been removed, so Abraham pursued a real future that he was able to see with new eyes. The tenacious grip of the flesh on this world was lost through a real revelation of true freedom. Abraham saw from a distance the Beautiful City whose builder and maker is his God. Freedom released Abraham to follow whomever he desired; he chose wisely.
David was a man who had killed many men, yet he was the apple of God’s eye. Associates of David also killed many men, but they were condemned. Why? David’s heart’s desire was to please God in everything he did. My wife and I live in the country and have cats who will occasionally deposit mice and birds at our doorstep to earn praise from their “masters.” They are thoroughly convinced that they have done something honorable and desire praise. They live to please their masters. David’s life was likewise wrapped up in pleasing his Master, God. Those others may have worshiped God, but they followed a man, David; for them to please David was their primary goal and desire. Therefore, God accepted David and rejected them.
David had freedom, even the freedom to make mistakes and do things incorrectly. God accepted David even though he messed up because his heart was right. However, David was held back from building the Temple because he was a “bloody man.” Like David, when we wholeheartedly surrender our own will, we too will experience acceptance and true freedom. And if we mess up (and we will), we have an advocate with the Father, the Lord Jesus. We may experience discipline but not rejection because our Father knows our hearts. If we allow ourselves to become subject to a man, rather than God, we turn away from our freedom, then even if we do something courageous or noble desiring and accepting praise from men, we may be disciplined or even rejected by God.
The Deception of False Prophets and Teachers in Christianity
The world is full of phantoms, lures, and temptations. Many voices proclaim safety, and many doctors prescribe many drugs for many ills that ail us. Many signposts claim, “This is the way,” and many false prophets and teachers offer beautiful shackles anxiously wanting to chalk-up a victory for their side.
The world is full of traps that offer freedom, and many of them are behind walls with stained glass windows. The world makes many and varied attempts at promoting its own brand of freedom. Consequently, most individuals’ opinions are not original but determined by the social structures in which they live and those form their definition of freedom. This individual’s whole life and thought are a product of concealed psychological manipulation. Man is a flesh and blood robot no different from AI robots other than man has a soul. It has been said that man is a machine, but more correctly, man uses a machine. This machine has two competing forces vying for control, one of which is evil and resorts to traps and marketing snares to gain conformity. The other offers freedom and makes no demands but rather offers real freedom. The dual nature of man shapes his personality. Personality is the resulting phenomenon of many inputs at the heart of man’s identity and problems.
The Illusion of Fighting Against Politics in Christianity
Securing a political advantage does not free us from bondage; it is much deeper than that. Fighting a visible enemy gives the illusion of understanding the battle and terrain, whereas fighting an invisible spiritual battle arouses little interest. For most people, including Christians, the real battle to be waged is material, at the ballot box, on the picket line, at school board meetings, or in associations right, left, or middle.
The Importance of Trusting Completely in Christ
As we grow in Christ and become aware of the increasing levels of freedom we possess, the veil is taken away. If we persist in the things that we determine are worthy of our attention, we should ask ourselves, “What value have I placed on the freedom purchased for me in Christ Jesus?” We must be careful; our environment conditions us to conform. Everything in nature adapts itself to nature, which becomes its own nature or character, and we conclude that certain things are only natural. We say, “I am only doing as everyone else is doing,” even Christians.
True freedom in Christ is a wonderful gift. The Apostle Paul was free to go under the Law and to go through the ritual of cleansing to make his appeal to those Jews who wished him harm. He stated, “I have become all things to all men that a few may be saved.” This freedom is a delicate gift that needs protecting. Man’s inclination to sin can easily abuse this freedom. Our freedom must not become an excuse to sin. Men are free to choose; we can choose how we will express our freedom, for good or for evil.
The Importance of Making Good Choices in Christ
Adam lived in an environment of perfection called Eden and did not have to make choices, although he was free to do so. His mind was crystal clear with no conflicting or competing thoughts. Life was perfect with all things provided for him, and everything was good. Adam loved his Father by nature, not because he chose to love Him but because he didn’t know any difference. However, Adam was not yet perfect, only good. God wanted Adam to freely love Him because he chose to love Him when given opposing options, and sin was an option. In the beginning Adam and Eve were not confronted with a choice; they had no idea what evil awaited them or what it even meant. God simply said not to eat the fruit of that other tree, and they obeyed Him, until tested with a choice. Now, something foreign to their senses arose in their hearts: temptation. They had no history of evil, so how were they to know? They knew because their Father had told them; He had revealed to them the consequences of choosing wrongly and until now they had easily obeyed. This was easy until a foreign entity appeared on the scene with a foreign offer. Now Adam and Eve were introduced to something about freedom that they did not naturally know: the option of an opposing freedom and disobeying their Father. They also would now learn about the consequences of bad choices, their high price, sacrifice, and redemption. They will learn about both good and evil and the importance of making good choices. Real freedom is something they had to learn in the School of Christ. “Know the truth, and the truth will make you free,” and keep you free.
The Importance of Choosing Freedom in Christ
To attain real freedom is not to mimic some person or group or to imitate them as is popular in the world. Freedom is to know the truth and to do the truth. It is not rules, guidelines, and regulations, memorizing creeds, attending classes, going to church, or becoming a missionary. Freedom is to be free, free as a bird, free to follow wherever the Spirit leads, free to be or not be, and even free to die if need be. Being totally free is to “put on Christ” and understand His mind and heart. Freedom is growing in grace and knowledge of the One who set you free, to be truly free, to DO freedom and not just talk about it.
You can have freedom, or you can have FREEDOM. It is important to know the difference. Choose FREEDOM!