Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Jesus Christ = Freedom

Bondage: "restraint of personal liberty by compulsion; involuntary servitude; slavery; captivity."

I think it would be safe to say that when most people think of the idea of bondage, they picture slavery via human trafficking, sexual crimes, hostage situations and such.  However, bondage goes much broader than that.  In 2 Nephi 2 says: "And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon... Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself."

This is one of the most effective and all encompassing summaries of the God's definition of freedom I know.  So bondage, if considered in contrast with this definition, would mean anything that inhibits our ability to act for ourselves.  That opens up a whole different can of worms as to what it means to be in bondage.

Whether it be bondage to sex, power, money, games, drugs, alcohol and other substance abuse, social status, materialism or even the self (narcissism), it destroys the freedom of choice.

For this entry:
#2 Jesus Christ = Freedom

Now let's go back a bit.  According to the scriptures, the plan of God, our Heavenly Father, was to send us to earth to "prove [us] herewith, to see if [we] will do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command [us];".  We loved Him like we loved nothing or no one else before this life and the plan was to send us here to see if we would still make choices that show our love for Him while on earth. However, God knew that we would not do so perfectly, that we would fall short and therefore render ourselves permanently incapable of returning to His presence, being unclean before Him, so He said He would provide a Savior for us to enable us to return.  Two ideas were presented.  Jesus Christ said: "Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever."  The other idea was presented by Lucifer who said: "Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor."

Whoa! Hold the phone! Did you see the problems with idea number two?

There was an investigator the missionaries had been teaching here in our area about whom I heard an interesting thought.  As best I remember being told about it, this individual was asking what we believe about grace and the conversation veered towards divine potential.  The missionaries said that our God given potential is to become like Him, to which the investigator responded something like: "Whoa! Whoa guys! That's what Satan wanted, remember? And look what happened to him!".  Their response was that while Satan didn't end up well, what he wanted was not to be like God.  He wanted to be God.  He wanted the glory of the Father all to himself.  The missionaries are quite right.

Satan said it quite directly, "give me thine honor."  That's why Satan became a son of perdition.  He didn't want to share it.  He wanted it all to himself because his mindset was "I will make sure not one soul of God's family is lost by forcing them to obey without any option to choose for themselves.  Therefore I deserve the glory because I'm going to be the one to do it."  On the contrary, God, in all His love for us, wanted us to be able to choose.  Said He: "Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;"

Satan wanted us to become mindless, thoughtless drones, bound and subject to his every whim and will.  One thing he refused to acknowledge is that the freedom to choose God has given us was the only way whereby we could become like Him.  Notice that word, become.  I have written a whole different article previously about this subject matter and you can read more about that here. But God's plan was to make us truly free and allow us that gift of choice and that gift could only be preserved and still allow us a chance to return to our Father in Heaven through Jesus Christ.

Satan, of course, tried his hardest to persuade us to misuse this gift and do things that our loving Father has told us will bring us misery because he is jealous of our freedom to choose.  The power of God, granted more liberally to us as we obey His commandments, keeps us free.  He knows what choices will keep us free to use our ability to choose and which ones will enslave us and destroy that gift.  His power and love are infinitely greater than all things evil and wrong.  Any time we give in to temptation and indulge in ungodly things and behaviors we become a slave to them.  

I can add my personal witness of the dangers of pornography.  It nearly destroyed my marriage.  Ever since I cut it out of my life completely I have continually felt a greater and greater amount of self control and greater personal freedom.  How often do you hear someone say "I get to go have my coffee now" as opposed to "I GOTTA have my coffee!!!"?  Honestly, I don't even think it's worth compare.  Coffee is addicting and enslaving.  So are alcohol, smoking (no matter what you're smoking), energy drinks, gambling, and maybe innumerable other things.  Heck, things like gaming, food, socializing, alone time, reading, facebook (I have to work on that one), work, travel, working out, dieting, studying, photography, T.V., music, research and any thing that is not evil in and of itself - and even really good things - can become an addiction that robs you of your ability to choose if used in excess.  Even thought patterns can be addicting if we choose to entertain the wrong ones.

Now don't get paranoid.  Don't be ridiculous and think "Oh man!  Everything I'm doing and thinking could be destroying me inside".  That's crazy.  The Lord doesn't want you to be so hyper analytical of yourself and your circumstances that you enslave yourself with an addiction to ridding yourself of addiction itself.  That's just stupid and really self defeating.  What He does ask you to do is take things one day at a time, even one hour, one minute or 10 seconds at a time if you must and work on making yourself a little more free every day be holding tight to the gospel of Jesus Christ and living by it a little better every day.

God continually and lovingly reminds us of the benefits of following His Son, Jesus Christ.  As we willingly, joyfully and lovingly choose to follow Him our ability to choose will be magnified; more of the rewards He has in store for us, purchased with His own flesh and blood, with His own soul, will become ours and our freedom will be enhanced more than we could ever imagine in this life.

I can personally promise you, in the name of the mighty God, the Lord Jesus Christ, that as you follow His word, as you live by it more consistently, completely, lovingly and willingly every day you will become truly free.

I've heard some people talk with an attitude of "God's commandments are so restrictive and limiting. I want to be more free." Those people have completely misunderstood.  Think of this.  When you follow the norms of society or the media, are you not obeying them?  When you see a commercial for a product or an online advertisement that tells you to do or buy something and you do so, are you not obeying them?  Even when you do something that you just want to do, entirely of your own accord, are you not obeying yourself?  The point is, whether you're obeying God, obeying trends set by society, ads on T.V. or the internet or something said by a friend or acquaintance or anyone at all, you're still obeying something or someone.  Since everything we do is in obedience to something or someone anyways, why not show obedience to Someone - Jesus Christ - who can and wants to give you and help you become more, through faith filled obedience to Him, than anyone or anything else ever could and be truly set free in the process?

Picture yourself in a room where you have an someone representing each of the following speaking to you in this manner.

You in your head: "Go do that one thing that makes you feel good."
T.V. "Don't go anywhere, stay tuned for what happens next!"
News Station: "This person did something bad! Don't be like them and certainly don't love them!"
Your friend: "You need to relax, just focus on you."
Politicians: "Vote for me because look how awesome I am."

and then off in the background you here the Holy Ghost: "I love you. I want you to be free. Would you like to [insert commandment here]? I promise you true freedom and peace if you choose to do that."

Some huge differences there are a) all the other voices are more demanding, b)the voice of the Holy Ghost asks/invites, not demands and c) only the Holy Ghost actually offers you something of eternal worth for obedience to Him.

One last note to finish this off.  I'm referring to Jack R. Christianson's The Mortal Christ again.  He mentions in that lecture the symbolism of the Jews having Barabbas released at the Jesus' expense.  Do you know what the name Barabbas means? Bar = "son of". Abba = "Father". Barabbas = "son of Father".  The sons and daughters of the Father go free because of Jesus Christ.

You want to be free?  Follow the Savior.  Live like Him.  Work every day to become as He is with faith in Him and His atonement for us.  Then, regardless of your circumstances, you will still truly become free.

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