Monday, March 2, 2015

Realizing There is No Choice "C"

"Well, when I grow up and have my own house..." or "Well, when I have my own kids..."

These are phrases I hear quite often from my three little ones.  In their innocence, they believe the lie of childhood which views the world of adults as a veritable theme park wonderland of freedom and fun.

Being an adult means having to answer to no one but themselves.  It means making their own rules versus following the ones mommy and daddy set forth.  In short, being an adult is ultimate power and control over their lives. 

I just smile, sometimes explaining the impossibility of such dreams and other times just playing along, all the while knowing when they cross the great chasm into adulthood, they will be smacked in the face by a much less brilliant reality.

Most adults know something these children can't possibly understand--everyone is always serving someone, always following someone else's set of rules.

And yet, despite the seeming obviousness of this fact, it seems more and more that I see a nation of adults reverting to this dream of ultimate freedom once again.  The concept of being one's own boss is ever appealing--no time clock to punch, no boss to report to, no rules to constrain.  In America alone, 10 million workers reported self employment to the Census.

The problem with this philosophy is that it is as much a lie as it was when we were children.  Even if we work for ourselves, we still aren't free. We become slaves to ourselves...and much worse.

Scripture reminds us of this very fact that we will always be slaves, that we will never be our own boss.  There are merely two choices as to who we will serve under. 

For those who refuse the headship of Jesus Christ, who have chosen to not make Him the Lord of their lives because they find God's commandments to be too oppressive, there is still no freedom to do as they wish.  Instead, these persons are enslaved by their fleshly desires, which control them.

Paul says, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts" (Eph. 2:1-3).

The image here is of someone incapable of true freedom because those desires, cravings, and disobedient thoughts are so magnetically powerful that the person has no choice but to follow them, no matter how hard s/he fights against them.  

The lost person is not a leader of his own life, not his own boss.  That is an illusion.  Instead, the above verses show that he is a follower of the world and Satan, "the ruler of the kingdom of the air."  In essence, even though the lost person insists on his own freedom to act as he chooses versus submitting to God as a hard taskmaster, this person is actually under the control of Satan whose spirit is "now at work" in those who disobey God.  Modern vernacular would say that Satan is that person's boss.

Choice B requires a person to follow the commandments of God as set forth in the Bible.  As Jesus says, "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him" (Jn. 14:21).  

For this person who lovingly submits to the Lordship of Jesus, who gives up his will and rights to himself, who makes Jesus his master--this is the person who finds the true irony of life is that the most freedom is found in the greatest submission to authority.  

No longer will the person be tossed to and fro by the desires of his flesh.  Instead, the person submits to God in order to be freed from the flesh for his ultimate benefit: "But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life" (Rom. 6: 22).

Paul summarizes this choice a person must make in regards to his freedom: "Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (Rom. 6:16-18).

A man can be a slave to sin and his flesh or a slave to righteousness and God.  With our every action that we convince ourselves we have "freely" chosen, we serve Satan or we serve God.   There is no "Choice C" in this life.  There is no choice of "Self" as our own boss, our own master.

It is the ultimate irony--only by submitting ourselves completely to God will we achieve the freedom we desire.

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