Freedom with Security
“The creation itself also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.”—Rom. 8:21, NW.
1. What success has man had in gaining freedom for himself?
VAIN have been the efforts of men to secure real freedom for themselves and their children. Much treasure and blood have been sacrificed on worldly altars of freedom. Their many causes and wars fought in the name of freedom have ended either in retaining the same old shackles or in coming under still greater bonds of restraint. In the 1940’s Christendom’s politicians, admitting that men were not free, put forth the cry ‘Fight for the Four Freedoms’, enumerating the four as freedom of worship, freedom of speech, freedom from fear and freedom from want. Then in 1950 there was the Freedom Crusade in the Western countries, in which contributions were taken to place the “Freedom Bell” (Freiheitsglocke) in Western Berlin. There in Berlin the so-called “Freedom Bell” rings out daily to actually remind men that in fact they are not now free. All these human efforts and demonstrations end in futility. It is just as the apostle Peter said, “While they are promising them freedom, they themselves are existing as slaves of corruption.”—2 Pet. 2:19, NW.
2. What interest do Jehovah’s witnesses have in freedom?
2 The Christian witnesses of Jehovah, found in the four corners of God’s beautiful footstool, the earth, form a nucleus of the incoming new world society, which is a society of freemen. They are lovers of freedom and they serve the great God of freedom, Jehovah, the sovereign Author of freedom and Ruler of the universe. They champion the real freedom to others who are longing for deliverance. Thus for the year 1952 their theme text is, “Say to the prisoners, Go forth.” (Isa. 49:9) As a society of free people true Christians desire to know exactly what comprises this freedom they now enjoy, where does it come from, what is its extent, what are its securities, its future possibilities and what safeguards must be taken to preserve this precious gift which the servants of God now possess in quite some measure. A consideration of these vital matters is important to enable the Christian freemen to follow Peter’s timely admonition, “Be as free people, and yet holding your freedom, not as a blind for moral badness, but as slaves of God.”—1 Pet. 2:16, NW.
WHAT IS FREEDOM?
3, 4. (a) What is freedom? (b) Describe the field wherein governments grant controlled liberties.
3 The word freedom in its broad sense as used in the Bible and in the field of government means merely “acting at will”. “Freedom is the state of being free; liberty; self-determination. The power of acting, in the character of a moral personality, according to the dictates of the will, without other check, hindrance, or prohibition than such as may be imposed by just and necessary laws and the duties of social life.”a The word “liberty”, as generally used, is practically synonymous with the word “freedom”. “Liberty is freedom; exemption from extraneous control. The power of the will to follow the dictates of its unrestricted choice, and to direct the external acts of the individual without restraint, coercion, or control from other persons.”b
4 Freedom, therefore, is the acting and the performance of acts freely according to one’s will, with or without restraints, for the general welfare. Accordingly, the subject of freedom involves the faculty of “free will” which God as the Creator Superior has given to angels and men so that they can conduct themselves voluntarily in a way pleasing to their Maker. It is in this area of action where man is allowed to exercise his free will that the use of freedom comes in. It is this field of “free will” action wherein governments, both theocratic and man-made, grant controlled liberties and freedoms.—1 Cor. 7:37, NW.
5. Describe the freedom that Jehovah God enjoys.
5 From the foregoing it can be seen that where one is able to act at will without any restraints or bounds whatsoever, such a one enjoys what might be described as total freedom. One who has total freedom obviously must be one that is completely independent of every other. There is only one who is in that totally independent position. That one is Jehovah God, the Sovereign Superior of the universe. All others, be they spirit creatures in heaven or humans on earth, are works of his hands and thus are dependent inferiors. For this reason Jehovah God is the sole one who is free in the absolute or complete sense. He uniquely enjoys what is known as absolute freedom. None can question, limit or direct this Fountainhead of freedom who singly lives and dwells in the unlimited climate of free action at all times. “And would you question me about the future? Would you dictate to me about my work? says the Eternal [Jehovah, AS], Israel’s maker, Israel’s Majestic One, I, I who made the earth, I who created man on earth, I who stretched out the heavens with my own hands, I who ordered all their host!”—Isa. 45:11, 12, Mo.
‘GLORIOUS FREEDOM OF GOD’S CHILDREN’
6, 7. (a) What climate of freedom has God purposed for his faithful sons? (b) Describe the freedom that God grants his creatures.
6 Jehovah, dwelling everlastingly in the climate of freedom, has lovingly purposed that all his faithful sons dwell in a similar climate of freedom. This climate of freedom Paul calls “the glorious freedom of the children of God”. In this text he refers to all faithful men on earth as “the creation” who find themselves handicapped by enslavement to sin, death and corruption. These are promised to “be set free” in God’s due time when they receive in fullness this “glorious freedom”. (Rom. 8:21, NW) Man, being made in the image and likeness of God, was surely created to exist forever in this element of freedom.—Gen. 1:26.
7 God created none of his servants to bondage. While he grants them the gift of free will, their freedom is relative; it does not exist apart from their Father, Jehovah. Hence spirit creatures and men have what is described as relative freedom. Their freedom lies in living and acting in harmony with the laws and conditions which the Sovereign Superior has made to apply to them. Their field of acting at will is hedged in or limited by boundaries. But within that area of freedom God’s faithful servants have a wide range in which to exercise their free will for good to themselves and their faithful associates. What, then, happens when one goes beyond the bounds of his relative freedom?
8, 9. (a) What happens when one goes beyond the bounds of his relative freedom? (b) How does James outline the steps which lead to rebellion, and what is the net result?
8 One who knowingly goes beyond the set boundaries of relative freedom commits sin. Such a one is a rebel. He is lawless. (1 John 3:4, 8, NW) He becomes displeasing to the great Sovereign Superior, Jehovah God. Those who ‘kick over the traces’ by going beyond their relative freedom may think they are making a break for greater freedom, perhaps attaining absolute freedom as great as God’s. (Gen. 3:5) By refusing to be bound by the right and very reasonable limitations set by God, the deceived one thinks to make himself an independent one like God. The apostle James explains how this happens.
9 It begins in the heart of the self-willed one. First he dwells on a self-willed desire to go beyond God’s set limitations. He thus is drawn out and enticed by his own selfishness. Next the desire becomes fertile when action is taken and an overt act is committed by actually going beyond what was forbidden. This wrong action then is sin. Sin or rebellion in turn brings the application of God’s sanction of punishment for disobedience which, in the long run, is death. Says James, “But each one is tried by being drawn out and enticed by his own desire. Then the desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin; in turn, sin, when it has been accomplished, brings forth death.” (Jas. 1:14, 15, NW) So instead of attaining greater freedom by making a break for independence, the foolish one finds himself in strong bondage to his uncontrollable self-willed desires. No freedom or security is this.
10. How did Satan, the opposer of God, originate? What sort of freedom campaign does he conduct?
10 Such was the exact course pursued by the “covering cherub” in Eden who made a strikeaway from Jehovah’s set boundaries for his safe angelic existence. He made a breakaway, he thought, for independence of action uncontrolled by God. His desire to be responsible to no one but himself, and his effort to exist apart from the universal organization of the great Creator and Life-giver and its fellowship regulations, was not the course of self-liberation. He was overcome by his own passion to have earthwide domination for himself and to be worshiped and served like Jehovah God. The only effect was to make him the victim and slave of his own selfishness, which is sin. His course made him the child of death, utter destruction. This one made himself Satan, meaning opposer of God, and Devil, that is, slanderer of God. From the time of his self-conceived corruption, this wicked adversary has posed as a liberating angel of light encouraging angels and men to free themselves from divine restraints. He has encouraged others to become satanic and corrupt like himself in opposing God’s set limitations. All who have fallen into his snare have become corrupt victims of deadly bondage to sin and death.—Ezek. 28:14-16; 2 Cor. 11:14, NW.
FREE MORAL AGENTS
11, 12. (a) How were Adam and Eve free moral agents, and what scope of activity was set before them? (b) How is it that all mankind finds itself in bondage to sin and death?
11 God made all his creatures free moral agents, with the liberty to choose either to live subject to His perfect and righteous will or to forget and deny their relationship to their Maker and to become a law to themselves. No creature desires to lose whatever freedom he has. It is solely his loss of understanding that could cause the creature to forsake the will of the One who created him and gave him life to enjoy. This was the situation in the perfect garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were created to enjoy endless life in the climate of relative freedom. This gave them scope for extensive expansion as to their earthly domain and for amazing development intellectually.—Gen. 1:27, 28.
12 Jehovah God as a wise, loving Father had the right to limit their freedom for their own good and spiritual growth. Doubtless God had in mind later to enlarge the field of relative freedom as man proved himself mature, able and worthy. Such would then enable man to perform still greater deeds in future ages. But alas! Our first parents, Adam and Eve, selfishly and with loss of understanding, cast their lot with God’s opposer, Satan. They were induced to make a break for a field of action greater than that which God allowed. So they lost their “glorious freedom” as children of God. Instead they came into bondage of corruption, of sin and death. (Gen. 3:1-19) That great bondage of corruption has been transmitted to all their posterity to this very hour. “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Rom. 5:12, NW.
TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE
13, 14. (a) What Liberator is provided, and what freedom does he bring? (b) How does Christ Jesus give Christians a freedom now which they may enjoy even before they obtain the freedom from death?
13 From the rebellion until now Satan has sought to keep mankind from returning to a knowledge of what their proper freedom before God is. He has sought to keep them in bondage and in a state of insecurity as to everlasting life. But thanks to Jehovah, in his due time he sent his great Liberator, Christ Jesus. This Liberator provided the ransom price which makes possible the redemption from the bondage of sin and death of all those who faithfully accept him. (Matt. 20:28, NW) “As through one trespass the result to men of all kinds was condemnation, likewise also through one act of justification [Jesus’ course resulting in his justification] the result to men of all kinds is a declaring of them righteous for life.” (Rom. 5:18, NW) So this great gift of freedom from corruption, sin and death is a freedom held in store for all faithful mankind. But even now it is possible to return to a measure of relative freedom. This is done by Christians’ following the advice and course set by Christ Jesus. “If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31, 32, NW) What truth and understanding have come to Christ’s followers that enable them to be set free?
14 It is the acquiring of an accurate knowledge of the inferior’s right standing before the Sovereign Superior, Jehovah, and acting upon that knowledge that brings true freedom. By diligently heeding the words of Jesus and searching out the many revelations of truth stored away in the Bible, Christians have come to determine some of the boundaries of their new-found relative freedom. Having due regard for these bounds they have entered into a safe freedom which brings them much present happiness, a sense of genuine security as to the future and a peace of mind that passes all understanding. “For such freedom Christ set us free. Therefore stand fast, and do not let yourselves be confined again in a yoke of slavery.” (Gal. 5:1, NW) As to what some of these boundaries of our Christian relative freedom are beyond which we cannot safely exercise free will and still be pleasing to the Sovereign Superior, Jehovah God, we will leave these answers for the following article.
15. What securities are to be found in the realm of relative freedom?
15 And now what as to the future securities that will be found in the realm of relative freedom? At the end of the thousand-year kingdom rule of Christ Jesus when faithful man will have been granted the gift of life everlasting, then will the “glorious freedom” of man be gained to its fullest extent. (Rev. 20:5, NW) From then on this freedom is held with security as long as future faithfulness is performed. Its securities are great. They include freedom from fear and freedom from want to the greatest extent. Note the Bible’s specific description of the various angles of security which this freedom brings. “Lo, I create new heavens and a new earth! The past shall be forgotten, and never come to mind. They shall build houses and inhabit them, they shall plant vineyards and enjoy the fruit; the homes they build, others shall not inhabit, what they plant, other men shall not enjoy. My people shall live long, as lives a tree, long shall my chosen folk enjoy their earnings; they shall not work in vain, nor rear their children to die suddenly, for they are a race whom the Eternal blesses, and with them shall their children live. . . . none shall injure, none shall kill, says the Eternal, on my sacred hill.” (Isa. 65:17, 21-23, 25, Mo) As is noticed from this Scriptural promise this freedom is held secure against all other men, so none can deprive others of property, injure or kill. What greater security is desired than here pictured? None.
16, 17. (a) What accompanies the spirit of Jehovah, and what warning do wise Christians heed? (b) How will Christians react to their present portion of God-given freedom?
16 The spirit of Jehovah is now with his expanding flock of witnesses. Since it is written, “Where the spirit of Jehovah is, there is freedom,” God takes adequate steps to provide even now a climate of freedom wherein his servants can thrive and grow to spiritual maturity. (2 Cor. 3:17, NW) Christians finding themselves basking in this sunshine of relative freedom should have in mind the following warning: “Yes, since you were set free from sin, you became slaves to righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh: for even as you presented your members as slaves to uncleanness and lawlessness with lawlessness in view, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness with holiness in view.”—Rom. 6:18, 19, NW.
17 Forward, you Christian witnesses of Jehovah, in the performing of Jehovah’s divine will. Make his name known far and wide. Cherish your Christian freedom. Demonstrate its pricelessness before the prisoners who desire to be released from Satan’s house of drudgery and darkness. Instead of the tinkling of a mere liberty bell, louder and louder we hear that Jubilee trumpet of the Kingdom message that has been heralding since 1914. It serves global notice—“Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof.” (Lev. 25:10, AS) Associate now with that happy band of Christian freemen. Make freedom with security and everlasting life in the new world your great hope.
a Black’s Law Dictionary, Third Edition, 1933.
b Black’s Law Dictionary, Third Edition, 1933.
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“FREEDOM BELL” IN WESTERN BERLIN