Liberty

By Robert Farrish

 It is 9:30 p.m., July 4, 1986. The Washington fireworks are about over, while the New York Statue of Liberty fireworks celebration is soon to begin.

The words, “freedom” and “liberty,” have been spoken and heard often today. It would be interesting to know how many times the words have been used in the last twelve hours. It is doubtful if any person in the United States has not used the word, liberty or freedom, today! What are my rights or liberties? “Rights” are frequently claimed which are based upon selfish “license” rather than proper liberty. The word “liberty” is often mis-used by selfish interests. What is liberty? How would you define the word?

One hundred and twenty-two years ago Abraham Lincoln commented, “The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and the American people, just now, are much in want of one.” The “reasoning” of the worldly-minded demonstrates that the true definition of liberty is rejected in favor of a selfish concept. Daniel Webster said, “Liberty exists in proportion to wholesome restraint.” There is no such thing as true liberty, where there is no restraint.

The practice of substituting licentiousness for “liberty” has been around a long time. Over nineteen hundred years ago, Jude wrote, “For there are certain men crept in privily, even they who were of old, written of beforehand unto this condemnation,  ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (Jude 4). This language shows that such practice is not just 1900 years old, but was “of old written of before!” Long before Jude’s time, men were abusing the grace of God, by claiming “rights” entirely foreign to the provisions of grace. Ungodly men, then and now, presume on the grace of God. Their attempt, then and now, is to stretch the grace of God to include what they want, irrespective of the will of God and the rights of their fellow men. Brother H. Leo Boles, in preaching on liberty, would swing his arm around, saying, “I have the right to swing my arm around, but my right ends where the other person’s nose begins.” The person who contends for certain things as his rights, without considering the rights of others, is ignorant or utterly indifferent to what constitutes true liberty.

Article one of the amendments to the Constitution of the United States of America forbids Congress making laws which denies freedom in certain areas of human activities. The Article states, “Congress shall make no laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of people peaceably peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Frequent attempts have been made to prostitute each of these freedoms to serve selfish interests and lusts. Space limitations will not permit a detailed discussion of each, so this paper will deal briefly with the “freedom of speech.”

How should a Christian talk? The answer to this cannot be learned from the Constitution of the United States of America, nor from the interpretation of that Constitution made by the Supreme court of the United States. The bounds of freedom for the child of God are found in the Scriptures. Not all the passages bearing specifically on the freedom allowed the Christian can be examined, so the reader is urged to look up and examine all the passages that prescribe the kind of speech approved for the child of God by our heavenly Father.

 The name of God is bandied about on TV, radio and in conversation. Characters on various shows seem to go out of the way to use the name of God in vain. Profanity is popular with those who “fear not God and regard not man.” And sad to say, there are some who claim to be Christians who will take the name of God in vain.

But what is the law of God here? Exodus 20:7 “Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain…” Matthew 5:34-37 “… but I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by the heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black, but let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay; and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one.” Not only is the name of God blasphemed on TV, radio, press and in many conversations, but lying, vulgarity and other speech styles reflect a lack of refinement and utter disregard for the rights and feelings of others.

One of the characteristics of the unrighteous is, “With their tongues they have used deceit” (Romans 3:13). Jesus identifies liars as children of the devil. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do . . . when he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father thereof” (John 8:44). God through John declared that for “all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). Note also some other passages which limits our speech to truth. “Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak ye truth each one with his neighbor” (Ephesians 4:25). “All liars” surely include lying advertising. Corrupt speech, filthiness, foolish talking, jesting, etc., are prohibited. “Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying. . .” (Ephesians 4:29). Corrupt speech does not become pure speech by reason of being used on TV, radio or magazines. “He that would love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, David prayed, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Jehovah my rock, and my redeemer” (Psalms 19:14).

Another passage of scripture which is a restraint imposed upon our speech by God is Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one.” It makes no difference that society tolerates lewd, profane, and lying speech, the Christian must obey God rather than man. David prayed, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Jehovah my rock, and my redeemer” (Psalms 19:14). Another passage of scripture which is a restraint imposed upon our speech by God is Colossians 4:6: “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one.” It makes no difference that society tolerates lewd, profane, and lying speech, the Christian must obey God rather than man.

 Searching The Scriptures Vol 47, Sept 1986