Definition: A condition in which a person is not, or claims not to be, dependent on others, not subject to their direction or influence. Being endowed with free will, humans have a natural desire for a measure of independence. Carried too far, however, this desire gives rise to disobedience, even rebellion.
When people cast aside Bible standards, do they really gain freedom?
Rom. 6:16, 23: “Do you not know that if you keep presenting yourselves to anyone as slaves to obey him, you are slaves of him because you obey him, either of sin with death in view or of obedience with righteousness in view? . . . The wages sin pays is death, but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Gal. 6:7-9: “Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap; because he who is sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but he who is sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit. So let us not give up in doing what is fine.”
Sexual morality: “He that practices fornication is sinning against his own body.” (1 Cor. 6:18) “Anyone committing adultery with a woman . . . is bringing his own soul to ruin.” (Prov. 6:32) (Regarding homosexuality, see Romans 1:24-27.) (Illicit sexual relations may, at the moment, seem pleasurable. But they lead to loathsome diseases, unwanted pregnancy, abortion, jealousy, a disturbed conscience, emotional turmoil, and certainly the disapproval of God, upon whom our prospects for future life depend.)
Materialistic pursuits: “Those who are determined to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and many senseless and hurtful desires, which plunge men into destruction and ruin. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of injurious things, and by reaching out for this love some have been led astray from the faith and have stabbed themselves all over with many pains.” (1 Tim. 6:9, 10) “I will say to my soul: ‘Soul, you have many good things laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink, enjoy yourself.’ But God said to him, ‘Unreasonable one, this night they are demanding your soul from you. Who, then, is to have the things you stored up?’ So it goes with the man that lays up treasure for himself but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:19-21) (Material possessions do not bring lasting happiness. Efforts to gain riches often lead to unhappy families, broken health, spiritual ruin.)
Overindulging in alcohol: “Who has woe? Who has uneasiness? Who has contentions? Who has concern? Who has wounds for no reason? Who has dullness of eyes? Those staying a long time with the wine, those coming in to search out mixed wine. At its end it bites just like a serpent, and it secretes poison just like a viper.” (Prov. 23:29, 30, 32) (Drinking may at first seem to help a person to forget his problems, but it does not solve them. When he sobers up, the problems are still there, often with others added. When overused, alcohol ruins a person’s self-respect, his health, his family life, his relationship with God.)
Drug abuse: See pages 106-112, under “Drugs.”
Bad associations: If a gang were to tell you that they knew how to get plenty of money without a lot of work, would you go with them? “Do not go in the way with them. Hold back your foot from their roadway. For their feet are those that run to sheer badness, and they keep hastening to shed blood.” (Prov. 1:10-19) If a person is not a worshiper of Jehovah, but he does seem to be really nice, would you view him as a suitable friend? Shechem was the son of a Caananite chieftain, and the Bible says he was the “most honorable of the whole house of his father,” but he “took [Dinah] and lay down with her and violated her.” (Gen. 34:1, 2, 19) Should the fact that other people may not believe the truths you have learned from God’s Word make a difference to you? “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.” (1 Cor. 15:33) How would Jehovah feel if you chose as your friends those who do not love him? To a king of Judah who did that, Jehovah’s spokesman said: “For this there is indignation against you from the person of Jehovah.”—2 Chron. 19:1, 2.
Who urged humans to feel free to make their own decisions without regard for God’s commands?
Gen. 3:1-5: “Now the serpent [being used as a mouthpiece by Satan; see Revelation 12:9] . . . began to say to the woman: ‘Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?’ At this the woman said to the serpent: ‘Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat. But as for eating of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, God has said, “You must not eat from it, no, you must not touch it that you do not die.”’ At this the serpent said to the woman: ‘You positively will not die. For God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.’”
What spirit is moving an individual when he ignores God’s will in order to satisfy personal desires?
Eph. 2:1-3: “It is you God made alive though you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you at one time walked according to the system of things of this world [of which Satan is ruler], according to the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience. Yes, among them we all at one time conducted ourselves in harmony with the desires of our flesh, doing the things willed by the flesh and the thoughts, and we were naturally children of wrath even as the rest.”
What independent attitudes is it vital for those who profess to be serving God to avoid?
Prov. 16:18: “Pride is before a crash, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”
Prov. 5:12: “You will have to say: ‘How I have hated discipline and my heart has disrespected even reproof!’” (Such an attitude can lead a person into serious problems, as the context shows.)
Num. 16:3: “So they congregated themselves against Moses and Aaron [whom Jehovah was using as overseers of his people] and said to them: ‘That is enough of you, because the whole assembly are all of them holy and Jehovah is in their midst. Why, then, should you lift yourselves up above the congregation of Jehovah?’”
Jude 16: “These men are murmurers, complainers about their lot in life, proceeding according to their own desires, and their mouths speak swelling things, while they are admiring personalities for the sake of their own benefit.”
3 John 9: “Diotrephes, who likes to have the first place among them, does not receive anything from us with respect.”
Prov. 18:1: “One isolating himself will seek his own selfish longing; against all practical wisdom he will break forth.”
Jas. 4:13-15: “Come, now, you who say: ‘Today or tomorrow we will journey to this city and will spend a year there, and we will engage in business and make profits,’ whereas you do not know what your life will be tomorrow. For you are a mist appearing for a little while and then disappearing. Instead, you ought to say: ‘If Jehovah wills, we shall live and also do this or that.’”
When a person’s desire for independence leads him to imitate the world outside the Christian congregation, under whose control does he come? And how does God view this?
1 John 2:15; 5:19: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.”
Jas. 4:4: “Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.”