Sunday, April 12, 2015

For the Sake of FREEDOM, PART TWO

Show proper respect to everyone...
(I Peter 2:17) 
Last week, I challenged my readers to consider the price of religious freedom here in America!  It's not something we think about often because unlike other countries, we've had it relatively easy when defending our right to worship, read the Bible, and otherwise express our beliefs as we choose!

This is not so in many Muslim countries where beatings and threats, job loss, and death comes as a result of Christian conversion!  We've had a bit of a wake up call here lately with the growing support and protest of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) recently passed in Indiana.  Even with the quick fix by legislators, the publicity has not abated.  I think we'll be talking about this for many months to come.

So my Christian brothers and sisters when you're inadvertently drawn into the conversation and asked where does the Bible stand on this issue what will you say?  As I said in my last post, I'm beginning to formulate a response from three scriptures:  Matthew 7:12; I Peter 2:13-17; and Mark 12:17.  I'm finding these three are only the tip of the iceberg, for real clarity, but all I can handle right now!

I discussed the first one at some length last week.  You know it as the Golden Rule (see it below).  Now let's look at I Peter 2:13-17
  •  Matthew 7:12 (NIV)  So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. 
  • I Peter 2:13-17 (NASB) 13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. 17 Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
I read the above scripture from several translations to make sure the correct interpretation was applicable to this contemporary issue and was pleased to see that it was.

 God's Word is timeless! Here's a synopsis of what the Apostle Peter says concerning a Christian's duty to government and obedience to God.

1.  Christians do not need to fear government if their motives and actions are pure. God is Sovereign and in complete control of everything! We can be subject to government because government is subject to God.  (Romans 13:1-5)  It is simply a tool of God to be used either for our good or our chastisement--it's up to you.
2.  We obey those in authority over us not because we're weak in our faith or defenseless but because it pleases God to do so.  We do it for the Lord's sake! (2 Cor. 5:9; Gal. 1:10; I Peter 2:13, Ephes. 5:22) There are times when one must choose to wage a physical battle or a spiritual one. Make sure you choose wisely!

 In the name of Christ, abortion clinics have been burned down and homosexuals beaten and dragged in the streets.  Name calling, unlawful assembly, and a deliberate disregard of the law has been perpetuated by so called Christians.  The same ones that point fingers at others, saying we are cowards and afraid to stand up for the Bible if we're not doing the same.   Do you really think this pleases God?  Which behavior silences the ignorance of foolish men, those in the Prayer Room or the unruly ones in the Court Room?

3.  Obey government up to the point that it violates God's law and your spiritually induced conscience.  One must always use discernment in matters that conflict with God's Word.  Yes, we ARE called to defend our faith!

 If you cannot in good conscience abide by a ruling don't do it and be willing to suffer the consequences! (Gal. 1:10; Acts 5:29) But remember, conscience is a matter of individuality.  One Christian's conscience may allow him a freedom that another Christian's won't!  (Let me say though, that this does not refer to a clearly understood sin act!)  Read Romans 14 for a better understanding of  Christian's liberty. 

4.  All men are not my Christian brothers but all are members of the Brotherhood of Mankind. As such if I respectfully disagree on a matter and do so with the intent of preserving peace and provide a means for godly dialogue, then I will not abuse my freedom for personal reasons. In this I do all of what verse 17 requires:  Honor all peoplelove the brethren, fear God, and honor the king.


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UNTIL NEXT TIME  ... (Last Part of this Series Coming Up Next Week!) 

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