Freedom! How sweet and precious is the sound! Everybody wants to be free! However very few are truly free! Why? Some are not truly free due to their misunderstanding of what freedom is! Others due to systemic weakness where they are enslaved by wrong systems. Misunderstanding often leads to abuse of freedom. Systemic weakness amounts to involuntary enslavement.
What is freedom?
One needs to know what is freedom, before one could live free! To some, freedom is the unhindered opportunity to do whatever one feels like doing. Freedom is the absence of resistance. However, any sensible person could realize that such freedom is destructive in nature. If someone feels to steal, to kill, to rape, etc. and if he is finding no kind of resistance, what will be the society like?
So freedom is the opportunity to do what is right. Immediately arises the question, “who will decide what is right and what is wrong?” How could we know for sure the right and the wrong? If every individual is to decide subjectively what is right and wrong, then right and wrong will be a subjective thing. Everybody will have his/her own rights and wrongs.
Moral Code within man
Right and wrong needs to be decided objectively, then only we could definitely say that right is right and wrong is wrong.
Had there been a universal consensus as a result of a universal council decision? No! Definitely not! It seems that in the heart of every person there is written a moral code to which he is expected to conform to. This moral code is inscribed in every mind by the creator Himself. Man is conscious and aware of such a moral code. Some call it the moral consciousness of God’s law in man’s heart. The creator has carefully inscribed in every individual’s mind a set of moral principles so that the individual could carefully follow his conscience. No one really needs to confront a person to convince him that he has violated God’s law.
Response to the moral code
When a person is not allowed to do what he/she knows to be right/true, that person is not a free person. The prevention could be by anyone or any system. When a person is prevented to do the right, there is some kind of slavery. We cannot call such a person a free person.
If someone is forced to do something he knows is not morally right, again there is slavery or bondage.
So a free person is free to do the right he wants or knows to do and he could avoid the wrong he knows is wrong, then there is freedom. So freedom has to do with our response to right and wrong.
Response to moral absolutes
Everyone could know what is right only when there is moral correctness. We call them moral absolutes. Freedom is to do with moral absolutes. These moral absolutes are binding upon everybody.
Moral absolutes relate to a moral absolute person. His will decides what is absolute. We call it the absolute authority. What is right and what is wrong are decided by this moral absolute being whom people acknowledge as God.
Freedom refers to our response to moral absolutes which are absolutely binding on man.
Response to truth
Freedom is our response to truth.
The Bible says: “Truth shall make you free” (John 8:31,32). What is not truth shall make man a slave. The liberating power of truth and the enslaving power of untruth are mutually opposing values.
How easily people are enslaved to evil. Even something like tobacco has enslaved millions. Nicotine rules the lives of millions. Everyone knows smoking is injurious to health. But they smoke. Why? Vices enslave. Man has lost his freedom to various evils.
Absolute truth is not an impersonal virtue. It is personal virtues related to an absolute person. To overcome the enslaving grip of vices and falsehood, one needs to respond to the will of the Absolute person.
Revelation of the Absolute Will
How could we know this absolute will? The absolute being has to reveal. God has to communicate with man what is true. Man cannot search and find out the absolute truth.
Has God revealed His will to man? Has God communicated to man the truth man has to obey? Is there a historical, propositional revelation of Truth? Yes, There is God’s word which is available to man. The holy scriptures commonly called The Bible is God’s written, propositional revelation of God. It tells man what is Gods will for man. Responding to God’s will revealed in the Bible makes man free.
The Bible being the absolute word of God, Bible does not call relative witnesses to testify the truth of the book. But Jesus Christ, the Absolute God incarnated, has testified to the absoluteness of the Word of God. Jesus said: Thy Word is Truth (John 17:17).
Why people go wrong in their thoughts and deeds? Because they do not know the scriptures. Jesus said to Jewish leadership “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures….” (Mathew 22:29) Jesus Christ, the Absolute person give true freedom through His absolute book, the Bible. “If the Son shall give you freedom, you shall be free” (John 8:34-36). Jesus said “Now you are clean through the work which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3).
Bondage to sin
Bondage to sin is the worst kind of bondage. The dilemma of not being able to do the truth one wants to do and the dilemma of ending up doing the evil one wants to avoid doing, is the result of the enslaving power of sin. Man is truly in bondage of sin.
Man could be free only when he yields to God’s Truth. Yielding means to accept the Truth and to act the Truth. Since man is under the grip of sin, he needs an outside force to liberate him from the clutches of sin. By self- help man cannot liberate from sin. Absolute Being alone could liberate man. The relevance of Jesus Christ is that He is the Absolute God incarnated as man. He is rightly designated the Saviour of the World.
Some erroneously think sin as a metaphysical problem. Man, according to such thinking, has lost something essential to humanness and has become another kind of a being due to sin. No man remains man. Sin has separated man from the holy God. Sin has enslaved man. A slave is as much a man as he was before becoming a slave.
Sin is ethical. Man has done what he was not to do. Sin is disobedience to God. Sin is a moral problem. Man has lost his relationship with God. Man has lost his sensitivity to sin. Man, instead of being the Lord over sin, has become the save of sin. But man is no animal. He has the capacity to respond to Truth, of course, he needs help. Sin is not a problem related to man’s ability but related to man’s will. It is not he can’t but he won’t.
The story of three men driving on the highway explains how the bondage to sin affects his values. The first driver’s eyes are on the police. His philosophy is “thou shalt not be caught, even if you overspeed”. He does not care for the traffic rules. The second drivers eyes are on the speedometer , his philosophy is “Thou shalt not break the speed limit”. The third drivers eyes are on the road, watching for people who cross the road, animals wandering in the streets. His philosophy is “Thou shalt not hurt anybody”. Who among the three drivers is actually free, enjoying the freedom of driving in a super highway? Definitely the third driver. He knows and abides by the intentions and the purposes of traffic rules. He knows that rules are made for man’s welfare; man is not made for rules.
True freedom requires true knowledge: knowledge of God’s will for man. Ignorance is bondage. Until one knows and acknowledge the Truth, one remains in bondage. Truth shall make man free.
Truth is not a set of deadly rules. Truth is the will of God. Jesus said, “I am the Truth”. Jesus also said, “Thy word is truth”. The absolute truth given by the Absolute person, propositionally to man so that he could know, acknowledge and obey to be free.