Liberty and the Bible: New Testament (KJV)

Date Posted: January 28, 2015

Jesus Christ is the focus of the Bible’s New Testament, the Messiah promised in the Old Testament, the Son of God granting us liberty. In II Corinthians 3:17b we are reminded that “…where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

OnlyWay Editor David McElroy gives scriptures and commentary.

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Truth and Liberty

In John 8:31-32, Christ promised (31b) “…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; (32) And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” God sent His Son to teach us the principles of liberty, to grant us liberty, so we might in truth be free!
So, “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed,” Christ assures us in John 8:36. Truth and Freedom are integral, and that is why we face deceit and “The Father Of Lies” at every turn.

Many use Romans 13 to insist we must blindly obey all government laws and officers, that even obviously corrupt governments can only exist with God’s granting them existance. Read these Romans 13 verses so frequently cited and think:

(1.) “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Are not the souls of government officers and rulers to be subject to God? Is God not the highest power? Should corruption in government not be punished?

(2.) “Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” What was that ordinance again… was it not to be subject to God? Was Peter not correct when he said “We ought to obey God rather than men?” in Acts 5:29 where he and other apostles rebuked the council prosecuting them for preaching the Gospel?

(3.) “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.” Rulers, government authorities, are to exercise their powers for good and against evil. Do you see godly people in high places? Has evil come to usurp what God has ordained as proper government? Have our rulers become a terror to good works?

(4.) “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to wrath upon him that doeth evil.” God has intended godly men to lead us as His ministers to us, like Moses or Samuel. Instead we have suffered men like Caligula, Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and Barack Obama. It is due to our lack of vigilance in standing for God’s principles of liberty that such evil men were able to come to power.

The Apostle Paul speaks to these principles in the rest of Romans 13.

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Our “liberty teeth“, our weapons, are vested in our right to self-defense, which the Bible speaks of. Our Lord Jesus supported it.

Yes, we are to live peacefully in brotherly love as much as we are able. We are to “turn the other cheek” to slights and avoid senseless violence. We are never to murder. But if a clear and present lethal danger confronts us, we should defend ourselves. Offense is prohibited, defense is a duty.

In early Israel, each man was expected to provide and carry his own weapon, usually a sword, to defend himself, his family and community in case of an enemy attack. This was a militia type of defense system. However, as Israel came under increasingly centralized government, especially under Caesar’s dominion, Roman law prohibited civilian ownership or use of swords.

In Luke 22:36, Jesus Christ told his disciples “…he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

Jesus was saying having a sword, prohibited by Roman law, was even more important than having a cloak or a coat! He wanted his disciples to have the means to defend themselves against evil and remain at liberty.

Our pacifist Christian friends speak of Christ’s example, of his telling Peter to sheath his sword after he wielded it in Jesus’ defense when he was arrested in the garden. In terms of following Christ’s example, one must recall that his personal nonresistance going to the cross was intertwined with his unique calling. He did not resist his arrest because it was God’s will that he fulfill His prophetic role as the redemptive Lamb of God (Matthew 26:52-56). During his ministry, however, he refused to be arrested because God’s timing for his death had not yet come (John 8:59). Jesus’ unique nonresistance during the Passion is not a mandate against self-defense.

A plain reading of Luke 22:36 informs us that Jesus approved of self-defense.

Self-defense can be one of the greatest examples of love. Jesus Christ said, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). When protecting your family or even a neighbor, a Christian is unselfishly facing lethal danger for the sake of others’ well-being. We should resist murderers.

Theologians J. P. Moreland and Norman Geisler say that “to permit murder when one could have prevented it is morally wrong. To allow a rape when one could have hindered it is an evil. To watch an act of cruelty to children without trying to intervene is morally inexcusable. In brief, not resisting evil is an evil of omission, and an evil of omission can be just as evil as an evil of commission. Any man who refuses to protect his wife and children against a violent intruder fails them morally.”

Keep your liberty teeth sharp.

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The Law Of Liberty
In James 1:25, we find that “…whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”

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Liberty and Rulers

Did Jesus Christ speak in support of liberty in Mark 10:42-44 when he advised his disciples after hearing them argue about which of them was to have the greatest honor in Heaven? (42.) “But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, ‘Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. (43.) But so shall it not be among you, but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister. (44.) And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.'”

First, Jesus spoke of how the world has rulers who exercise authority over others, “lording it over” them. Then, Jesus said his disciples were not to seek lordship and authority over others, but to serve them as ministers.

If you look into the Greek dictionary portion of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, you will find the root of the word translated as ruler is archon, the same root of words like monarch, oligarch, plutarch, etc. Christ was telling his disciples to avoid seeking their own “archy”, or to live in “anarchy”! A Christian community was not to have a ruler. This does not mean having no rules. Christ was not telling his disciples to be wild, unprincipled, selfish, sociopathic sorts, but free men at liberty within God’s law, serving others in the love of Christ and caring for the needs of their people. They were to be brothers in Christ, not kings nor governors.

Liberty is restrained by the rights of others in a disciplined life exemplified by the “Golden Rule” cited in Matthew 7:12 , in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.

In Matthew 22:35-40 Christ answered a lawyer’s crafty question about which of the commandments was greatest in the law. (37.) “Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (38.) This is the first and greatest commandment. (39.) And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (40.) On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.'”

That is the basis of the Golden Rule. It makes God’s law simple and grants us much liberty. Simply love. But men so often want to complicate and obfuscate matters seeking control over others. Remember, anything less than the Ten Commandments is licentiousness, anything more is tyranny.

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