If ye love me, keep my commandments.
“Trading tyrannies “
There are a myriad of smaller third world countries ruled by tyrants. These tyrants are continually opposed and sometimes deposed by the next tyrant to rule. While the leaders change, that does not affect the citizenry at large. They have simply traded tyrannies. They are still in bondage. Every up and coming dictator appeals to the people to support him and his changes. They promise freedom and change. They promise a better life for all. However, when they come to power, the force required to reach the throne is the same force required the keep it. Therefore, nothing changes to the common man. They are still in bondage. They are still controlled by a fearful force. The simplest aspects of their lives are controlled by the whim and will of the newest tyrant.
The scripture tells us that too whom we yield our members, we are the servants of. We are all born into sin. Our flesh is the servant of sin. The author of sin is Satan. When we yield to sin, we are the servants of Satan. He is a tyrant. While we are servants to him, we are in bondage to his tyranny. Even the simplest aspects of our lives are controlled by his force. We are driven by his will and desire. We are headed to his destination. Yet, there is one that seeks to free us. There is one that seeks to deliver us. He offers us a freedom we cannot understand.
The freedom God offers, is not a freedom to do as you will, per say. It is a freedom to do as you will in they you can choose to follow God and His commandments or you can choose to return to or stay in the bondage of Satan. There is a time in your life where you are offered this choice. The choice is to begin anew in the service of a loving, benevolent, caring God or remain in the service of a selfish, lying, cheating, deceiving tyrant. God offers you this choice, freely.
You can find the place where this choice is made is as varied as the people that make the choice.
Some come to the choice as a child. Others come to it as adults.
Some come to this choice during a trying time. Some come to it in peaceful times.
Some come to the choice at a church. Some come to it at home.
Some are led to the choice by friends. Some are led to the choice by strangers.
Some hear the call loud and booming. Some hear the call as a whisper.
There is no precise way it has to happen. There is no exact place it must happen. There is no concise time for it to take place.
Each choice, to stay or begin anew, requires the following of a spirit. We can choose to follow a spirit of freedom or a spirit of bondage. It really doesn’t seem like a very hard choice. We might even call it a ‘no brainer.’
However, in his efforts to keep that which is his, Satan uses trickery to accomplish his goal. He disguises his bondage as freedom and God’s freedom as bondage. His freedom to do as you will is not doing your will at all. It is the will he has led you to believe is your own, but it is controlled by fashion, friends, peer pressure, society, and general human rebellion. He paints the church as a prison with bars of do’s and don’ts. He will give you a litany of the things you “can’t” do anymore. He focuses your attention of the things you have to ‘give up.’
Let me be straight up with you. There are commandments in serving God. There are rules of conduct. There are expectations of Godly conduct. There are things you cannot do. There are things you are required to do. In this, there is the merest glimmer of truth in Satan’s advertising.
There are rules like, “love the Lord thy God will all thy soul, mind, and strength,” and “love your neighbor as yourself.”
When Jesus was traveling and preaching, He was asked, in an effort to trap him, which was the greatest of the Ten Commandments. His response was to boil the commandments down into two basic commandments. The first was to love the Lord with all you have. The second was to love everyone else as you love yourself. If we can just learn these two, we do very well.
If we love others as we love ourselves, think of the world in which we would live. There would be no wars. There would be no crime. There would be no poverty. There would be no child abuse or spouse abuse. There would be no racism. There would be no tyranny. There would be no need to be afraid. There would be no health care crisis. There would be no greed or avarice. There would be no malice.
What a utopia we would have.
I recall a dream someone supposedly had and reported. In the dream, this person went to Hell. In Hell there was a table spread with all manner of food. Every delicious food to be imagined was there. The people around the table had a six-foot spoon tied to one hand and the other hand tied behind their backs. They were all starving. They could not get the food to their mouths. All the food they could want and they were unable to eat it.
Then the dream continued and the person went to Heaven. In Heaven there was a table spread with all manner of food. Every delicious food to be imagined was there. The people around the table had a six-foot spoon tied to one hand and the other hand tied behind their backs. Everyone was healthy and full. When the dreamer asked what the difference was between the two, as both people in both places were subject to the same conditions, they discovered that in Heaven, they fed each other. Every man met the needs of the others around him.
If we could live by the Godly principles written in His Word, we would live in just such a utopia.
The problem comes, when those in the church world grab hold of the idea of the flesh world. I cannot worship with you, because you do not wear the same color uniform that I wear. I cannot fellowship with you anywhere because you do not read the same books as me, you do not listen to the same music as me, you do not dress the same as me, and you do not live the same as me. We are asking sinners to trade tyrannies. We are asking them to leave one form of bondage for another.
I am not dismissing the commandments of God. I am not saying there are no rules in serving God. I am not claiming there are no ‘thou shalts’ and ‘thou shalt nots’ in the service of God. God does have expectations. Many of these expectations are as written in stone just as the original Ten Commandments were written. The Word tells us that He now writes His laws on the tables of the heart. (2 Corinthians 3.3)
It is the right of every Pastor to shepherd the flock that God entrusted into his care, as he feels God instructs him. It is his right as an undershepherd to lead the sheep as he is led by the Spirit of God. He will use his God given authority to set a standard based on biblical principles. Those he uses in the ministry and function of the church must agree to live by this standard. This is his/her line in the sand. Anyone can come and worship. Any person can come and stand in the congregation and lift hands to God in praise and worship. There should be no restraint in who is welcome to offer praise in the place of the congregation. However, to lead in worship or praise, a standard must be abided by. To minister in word or deed, there must be an agreement to adhere to a standard. There must be a reasonable expectation of action for membership. This should not, however, in any way prevent anyone from worshiping or praising God freely.
Our general membership standard must be Biblically teachable. It must adhere to God’s Word. It should produce freedom.
In Deuteronomy, the Word gives provisions for those that through mismanagement or other reasons have lost their inheritance and have sold themselves as servants to pay a debt. At the end of the six year period, the master must free them. In the seventh year, they are to be freed. However, if the servant chooses, he or she may remain with the master. If that is the choice, they are taken to the door post and an awl is thrust through their ear. This piercing signifies their willingness to remain a servant past the seventh year wherein they would normally receive their freedom. Their servitude becomes one of choice rather than debt.
We are not trading tyrannies.
We are not trading bondages.
We are accepting freedoms terms.
If you will be free, these things you must do ..
As we get closer and closer to God, more and more flesh will be peeled away. More and more of our Adamic nature will be stripped away. Paul said, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3.30) Although it is not our motivation, there is nothing you will give up for God that He does not bless you manifold times more in return.
Some Christians get caught up in telling people what they are doing that will send them to Hell. We need to spend the more time on telling them what they need to do to go to Heaven. I am a firm believer in the old-time Hell fire and brimstone sermons. My father, a great pastor, told me that it is more important to preach sermons that make people cry than to preach sermons that make them shout. Both have their place. Neither will ever replace the need for the other.
If you can scare people in, the devil can scare them right back out.
If you love them in, he cannot love them back out.
2 Timothy 1:7-8
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear ; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
The word for fear is 'deilia' which means 'timidity'. It is derived from deilos and deos which means dread or fearful. God has not given us the spirit of living under tyranny. When a person lives under tyrannical rule, they become fearful and timid. They are afraid of everything. They trust no one. They suspect everyone. Their fear guides their thoughts and actions. This is the rule from under which God wants to deliver us. He wants to take away our spirit of timidity. He wants to relieve us of our fearfulness. The first things that Adam experienced when he sinned were shame and fear. When God came in the cool of the day into the midst of the garden and called for him, he said, “I was afraid .. and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3.10)
God has given us a spirit of power. He has given us ‘dunamis’. This is a force of miraculous power. It is the power to do great and mighty works. It dispels timidity. It empowers the powerless. It gives strength to the weak. It gives courage to the fearful. It gives liberty to the captive. It gives hope to the hopeless. It gives freedom to the prisoner. It is the power of God unto salvation.
Satan is a power taker. God is a power giver.
Satan is an imprisoner. God is a liberator.
Satan is a discourager. God is an encourager.
Satan is a heart breaker. God is a heart mender.
Satan is the destroyer of hope. God is the hope of the world.
We are not trading tyrannies.
God has given us a spirit of a Love. He has given us the spirit of ‘agape’. He has given us the example and spirit of a sacrificial love. “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13.35) “Greater love hath no man than this that a man would lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) While we were yet enemies of the cross, Christ loved us and gave Himself for us. This is the love that gives without expectation of return.
In John 21, Jesus has a discourse with Peter where three times He asks Peter if he loves him. Three times Peter tells Jesus that he does in fact love Him. A closer look at this conversation reveals some interesting facts. In the original text, (Greek) the words used for love in the conversation differ. Jesus asks Peter if he loves (agape) Him. Peter replies that he loves (phileo) Him. The second time is the same as the first. Finally, the third times Jesus asks Peter if he loves (phileo) Him, and Peter responds that he does (phileo) Him.
Jesus asks Peter if he has a sacrificial love for Him. Peter responds that he does have affection for Jesus.
When Jesus tells his disciple how they will be identified, it was through the sacrificial love they would have for and toward each other. The world is replete with ‘I will love you if you love me’ types of love. God’s love is far and above love like that.
We are not trading tyrannies.
Satan’s love is destructive. God’s love is constructive.
Satan’s love is conditional. God’s love is unconditional.
Satan’s love is fleeting. God’s love is everlasting.
Satan’s love is binding. God’s love is freeing.
We are not trading tyrannies.
God has given us a spirit of a sound mind. The word is ‘sophronizo’ which means to make of sound mind, to discipline or correct. God wants to teach us. God wants to disciple us. God wants to give us knowledge and wisdom. He is not afraid of the truth. He is not afraid of revelation. He is not afraid of scrutiny. He is not afraid of logic. His truth will stand when all others fail. His Word will outlast all its detractors. We need not fear the knowledge of the world. True knowledge will align with the truth of God’s Word. We are not carried about by every wind of doctrine. We are built on a firm foundation. Jesus is the chief cornerstone of our building.
The word used refers to a disciplined life. This ties the terms disciple and discipline together. The word tells us who he loves, he chastises. We can readily understand that we discipline our children out of love. We train them. We teach them a respect for proper authority. We take no pleasure in the act of discipline but understand the far reaching ramifications of not doing so. Disciples are created by discipline. Tyrants use force and discipline to break their foes and followers. Christ uses discipline to build up His followers. The rod of His correction is a blessing. “He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” (Proverbs 13:24 NIV)
Satan’s freedom is not freedom at all.
God’s bondage is not bondage at all.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)
We are not trading tyrannies.
In the story of Aladdin and the magic lamp, the evil Grand Vizier in his efforts to gain the magic lamp, goes through the town in disguise, crying out “New lamps for old.”
Christ stands at the edge of your life. There is no deception in His claim, as He calls out, “New lives for old.”
He offers you a new life.
He offers you a new spirit.
He offers you a new power.
He offers you a new love.
He offers you a new mind.
We are not trading tyrannies.