The Illusion of Freedom
The misery and consequences of rebellion not only impacts the life of the rebel, but the lives of the ones they hurt and disappoint along the way.
Anyone who has been a rebel him/herself or has had to deal with rebellious family members will concur that telling a rebel what he or she "has" to do is received as an open invitation to do just the opposite. The tighter the grip that authority places on a rebel, the more he desires to rock the boat and to break free. It can be a heart-breaking and very frustrating season for godly parents to endure.
On the other hand, the longer the leash, the more freedom the rebel has to do as he or she pleases. The longer the leash, the greater the chance of entanglement.
Parents walk a thin line between exercising too harsh (Colossians 3: 21) and too little (Proverbs 23: 13,14) discipline.
A kissing cousin to a rebellious spirit is the spirit of invincibility. Rebels deceives themselves into thinking they can engage in reckless and self-destructive activity without consequences. They acknowledge that bad things can happen, but deceive themselves into thinking it won't happen to them. Hardcore rebels are willing to take chances.
When dealing with rebellious family members, keep in mind that our battle is NOT with them, but with the forces of evil that are influencing the negative choices they are making (Eph. 6: 12).
The sovereignty of God delegates authority to secular governmental officials (Romans 13), ecclesiastic personnel (Heb. 13: 17), husbands (Gen. 3: 16/Eph. 5: 22 - 24), parents (Eph. 6: 1 ), employers (Eph. 6: 5 - 9), etc..
Short of remaining in a situation of physical endangerment or being pressured into sin (Acts 5: 21), Scripture calls us to comply with authority even when it makes unreasonable demands (1Pet. 2: 18). In balance, these types of delegated authority are not without limitations. All such systems must have the means to remove those who would abuse to authority with which they have been entrusted.
There are God's laws of nature that govern the natural environment and activities here on Earth and throughout His created universe. If we choose to challenge the laws of nature by engaging in dangerous activities, WE place ourselves and others in harm's way that can result in physical trauma, illness, and death.
Throughout human history, Man to his own hurt, has sought to circumvent laws that God has established. Man also has a long history of neglecting and or abusing the delegated authority that Man has been given.
Many who neglect the authority given to them want the "title" (e.g. head of the house), but not the function or responsibilities that go along with it. Abusers of authority become tyrants. As Sir John Dalberg-Acton put it, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Persons in positions of delegated authority aren't any "better" than his or her subordinates. It is NOT the individual, but the authority (when properly exercised) that he/she has been given that deserves our respect and compliance.
Here in the Church Age, the religious organizations of Man have created positions of leadership and function that do not have the endorsement of Scripture. Advancing disciples have seen the need to risk their freedom, life, property, and limb to oppose, resist, or flee from the persecution that such religious institutions have imposed with and without the collaboration of secular authority.
To challenge legitimate authority is to challenge God (Romans 13). When one chooses to take a stand for God by defying an abusive authority, he or she must be prepared to deal with whatever Earthly consequences there may be that come along with it (Acts 25: 11).
If no ONE has the final word, then no ONE is in charge. When no ONE is in charge, then everything is open to debate and compliance is arbitrary promoting an environment of manipulation, rebellion, and anarchy with the perceived idea that everyone is free to do his own thing with little or no concern for God for people in positions of delegated authority.
In the real world, there has to be checks and balances in order to prevent the abuse of authority, but until the status quo is legitimately amended or dissolved, there can only be one source or person in charge so that, when necessary, certain decisions and actions can be taken.
The checks and balances in Christian marriage, for example, are found in comparing the different principles found in such passages as Gen. 2: 18, Gen 3:16, Eph. 5: 25, Col. 3: 19, Titus 2: 5.
For a husband to love his wife as Christ loves His Church, he must put her personal interests ahead of his own, p-r-o-v-i-d-i-n-g such a commitment does not promote a Luke 14: 26 or Genesis 3: 17 scenario.
On the other hand, the primary function for which God created the position of wife was to provide the husband with a companion and a helper (Gen. 2: 18), not a competitor.
Godly husbands and father's will always solicit and take into full consideration the interests and input of all concerned when making marital and familial decisions.
Such input are recommendations, not a binding vote.
In most cases, an agreement can be reached to the satisfaction of all THREE (God, husband, wife) partners in the marriage. Such agreements that leave God or the things of God out of the recipe will be regretted.
In the few cases when the husband and wife can not agree AND there is the need for an immediate decision to be made, it IS the place of a Christian wife to submit to the Gen. 3:16 authority of her husband. Under such conditions, the husband takes full responsibility for the outcome.
In addition to the children, a Christian wife's respect (or disrespect) for her husband's authority does not go unnoticed by angels (1Cor. 11: 10) who observe human behavior in the midst of spiritual combat of the Church Age. It certainly does not go unnoticed by the omnipresent, omniscient God.
Wives, who by example, demonstrate that compliance with marital authority is arbitrary, shouldn't be surprised when children disrespect her own parental authority since both marital and parental authority come from the same source (Romans 13: 1).
For Christian wives and children, compliance with marital (Eph. 5: 22 - 24) and parental authority (Eph. 6: 1) are NOT suggestions or options, they are commands. When authority is questioned, a "Because I said so " should be the only explanation that a Christian should need to hear.
The interests of all the children and the input of older children living under the parents' roof will be taken into consideration when making familial decisions, but children do NOT have a binding VOTE.
The blessings or consequences of the marital and familial decisions that a husband or father makes rest squarely on his shoulders. The blame game (Gen. 3: 12) didn't work in Garden. It won't work now. It won't work when we give an account of ourselves (Romans 14: 12) in Heaven.
The family unit that God designed is not a democracy. It is a theocracy in which there is delegated authority and clearly defined roles for husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children living under the same roof.
In many cases, it will not be until one finds him/herself in positions of authority that he or will experience the challenges that goes along with the position.
A degree of freedom is surrendered upon entering into "Christian" marriage (1Cor. 7: 32 - 35). If one is not prepared for to do so, he or she is not prepared for Christian marriage. Christian Marriage can be a major asset, but alternative marriage and relationships can or a major distraction (1Cor. 7: 35) in the post salvation spiritual life of an advancing disciple.
Accordingly, there are two basic questions that should be asked at the start of pre-marital counseling for those who wish to embrace Christian Marriage.
To the husband to be, "Are you prepared to love your future wife, as Christ loves His Church?
To the wife to be, "Are you prepared to obey your husband ?"
Should the answer to either one of these two questions be "NO" or "Yeah, but...,'" the couple would be well advised to reconsider if they are ready for "Christian" marriage.
For an advancing disciple, his or her marriage is only one of many areas of life that must be surrendered to God, but in many cases, will be prove to be the greatest blessing or the greatest obstacle on the road to spiritual maturity (Luke 14: 26/1Cor. 7: 34).
One cannot truly commit to Christian marriage without first really getting to know the other person well enough to have seen them in action under circumstances when their fallen nature gets the best of them.
Engaging in intimate premarital sex can blind one's spiritual eyesight, which is precisely why the devil promotes such things.
Pushing the warnings and principles of such passages as Hebrews 13: 4 aside, people have lived together or engineered alternative types of marriage. Under such alternatives, as long as each partner gets (or expects to get) what he or she wanted from the relationship or marriage, it will "work for them,"but denies God His glory.
Human viewpoint says that as long as they are happy, that's all that counts. But, no advancing disciple (Luke 14: 26) will be happy knowing he or she is denying God the glory due Him through his or her disobedience.
Without God, the seasonal happiness that the alternatives that human viewpoint have to offer is vanity (Eccl. 12: 13, 14). Even if one lived hundreds of years (as did many in the first generations of Man) and enjoyed all that the world (human viewpoint) had to offer throughout that extensive lifetime, it would still be "seasonable" in comparison to never-ending Eternity to come.
"For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul (Mark 8: 36 NASB)?"
Is the seasonable happiness that the alternatives of human viewpoint have to offer a born again beIiever going to worth forgetting his or her heavenly reward (1Cor. 3: 15) or privileges (Revelation 2/Revelation 3)?
Such freedom (independence from God) comes with a very expensive price tag and a debt, that in either time or eternity, WILL come due.
After the Fall of Man, the first recorded round of the Blame Game in human history took place. The man blamed God (for giving him the wife) and the wife blamed the serpent (Gen. 3: 12, 13). Adam, Eve, and the serpent were all disciplined, receiving consequences that would remain in force throughout the course of human history.
When the devil is done using people or things, he couldn't care less what becomes of them.
The devil, who was behind the whole scheme was undoubtedly, at least for the moment, pleased with the outcome (Luke 4: 6). I say momentarily, because he would later learn that the Fall of Man did not take the omniscient God by surprise, and that He had His solution (John 3: 16) in mind BEFORE the creation of the world (Eph1: 4), let alone the creation of Man that came along later.
Disobedience was what the devil was after. After being deceived, the woman was convinced that by eating the forbidden fruit she could improve their lot in life (Gen. 3). It was not only the fruit itself, but what she had been led to believe the eating of the fruit would do for her and Adam (Gen. 3: 6) that appealed to to her.
Throughout the course of human history, the devil has has had considerable success leading humans to believe that freedom from the limitations imposed by authority would improve their Earthly experience.
There ARE pleasures associated some with forms of sin (Heb. 11: 25), but not without consequences (Gal. 6: 7). Whenever we shake hands with the devil, he always comes out ahead.
We may very well get the freedom and or the prosperity we want, but we may not want what we get when the hidden costs are revealed and come due in time or in eternity for unbelievers (Mark 8: 36/Rev. 20: 15) and believers (1Cor. 3: 15) alike.
Most of us would be surprised to learn just how much the devil would offer to get us out of the plan of God (Luke 4: 6). It all cases, however, it would place us in servitude to the devil (Luke 4: 7, 8).
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Preventing or seeking liberation from abusive authority has been a human objective throughout the course of human history. But when we throw the babe (the need of . .authority) out with the wash water (the abuse), the seedlings of anarchy flourish.
Without divine and secular law and order, the sin nature is unleashed reducing the human environment to that of the animal kingdom, where without any sense or regard of right, wrong, or accountability, prosperity and survival are in the hands of the more powerful.
Left alone to his own devices, the human environment would return to the violent, immoral, pre-flood days of Noah. It's the (fallen) nature of the beast.
Note that when the Rapture takes place, the world as a whole will return (if not there already) to a violent and immorally wicked environment similar to the days leading up to the Flood.
These events give rise to the Antichrist who will rule on Earth after the Church has been raptured away, until Christ returns at the Second Advent.
For many, it will be life as usual (Matt. 24: 38) right up to the split second when "in the twinkling of an eye (1Cor. 15: 52)" the Church is Raptured away.
"For the coming of the Son of Man (*in the Rapture) will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the (unexpected) coming of the Son of Man (in the Rapture) be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left (Matt. 24: 37 - 41 NASB parentheses mine)."
If the Rapture takes place in the middle of a worship service, I believe there will be many (Matt. 7: 13, 14) left behind sitting in the pews and or standing behind the pulpits.
*It is important to distinguish when Scripture is talking about the Rapture and the Second Advent. The Rapture takes place in the air ABOVE the Earth when the Church is taken away, whereas the Second Advent takes place ON the Earth seven (some teach 3 1/2) years later when Christ returns.
Once the Rapture takes place, the timing of the Second Advent (*seven years later) will be made known to all.
*Some interpret end time prophecy to teach that the Second Advent will take place three and one half years later. In either case,they are two separate events, in two different locations, serving two DIFFERENT divine purposes.
In the seven years on Earth between the Rapture and the Second Advent (especially in the last three and a half years), it will prove to be the worst time in human history to be alive (Matt. 24: 22), but that's a lesson for another day.
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In a democratic republic there are checks and balances designed to avoid abuse of power. Even in a monarchy or dictatorship, the wise ruler will take into consideration the interests of all concerned to avoid civil unrest, civil war, revolution, and his or her own personal well-being.
The degree of freedom that the various forms of government affords its citizenry varies. The more freedom it allows, the greater the need for voluntary submission to authority if laws and order is to be maintained.
The form of ANY type of government is only as stable as the one(s) in charge and the population within its domain. There can be both godly and ungodly monarchs and elected officials that bring will about divine blessings or discipline on a national level.
A lack of freedom generates rebellion. Unrestrained freedom generates violence, immorality, oppression, and anarchy.
One can choose to rebel, ignore, defy, and deny authority, but that does not make it (or our accountability to it) go away, nor does it remove any of the potential consequences.
At the end of the road, no one gets away with anything. All accounts will be settled in Court of Heaven.
Here on Earth, God has given us the free will with which we are to make decisions, but we are NOT free from having to make those decisions. The decisions we make during our time here on Earth is what determines WHERE and HOW we will spend ALL of eternity.
As long as we are here on Earth, freedom from one form of authority puts us under the requirements necessary to maintain the new one.
Total freedom is an illusion.