Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Illusion of Freedom vs. the Sacred Duty of Man

17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”
2 Peter 2:17-22
            Peter is giving a stern warning to the people concerning the coming of false teachers, who “1will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them.  And because of these false teachers, “2many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.  Peter warns the people of how dangerous these false teachers are, since “3in their greed they will exploit you with false words.  And worse, “10Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones.  And Peter compared them to angels, who even with greater might and power do not go so bold as to “pronounce blasphemous judgment before the Lord.”  Peter then exposed their depravity saying: “12But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of
which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed.”  These are the complete profile of the false teachers.  They are teaching things that are contrary to the teaching of the Holy Scripture.  They are so bold in their teaching as if they have all the truth in the world.  They even dare to blaspheme majestic being in their ignorance and arrogance.  These false teachers come from our rank.  They were once “Christians” but then they develop their own teaching straying away from the true teaching of our Master Jesus Christ.  But unfortunately, many people follow them on the basis of their licentiousness.  The degradation of human sexual tendency is being exploited and used as their teaching ammunition, and the weaker people got confused that they follow their false teaching without complete understanding.  They think it is the truth.  They are convinced that their false teaching is true.  And this is the blasphemy of the way of truth.  But these false teachers do not stop there.  Instead, their greed drives them into sophisticated scheme to exploit the weak with their false words.  They are masters of word twisting.  Our world is full of people like what Peter describes.  These false teachers twist words based on feeble findings in the name of research, and thus appear smart and authoritative, while their conclusions move farther and farther away from the truth.

            The shout by Nietzsche’s Zarathustra that “God is dead” marks the boldness of these false teachers in blaspheming majestic being, even God himself.  They do that because God is the only one that stands on their way of indulging their wild lifestyle.  According to Peter, these false teachers lack self control, for they desire to commit adultery, and they have unquenchable desire for sin.  Moreover, they tempt those who are weak knowing for certain that they will fall.  Their intention is evil.  Because their heart has developed a habit that can only follow greed.  And greed blinds them of the truth.  All they can see is advantage for themselves.  Self-centeredness is their natural tendency.  They are so ready to exploit others for their own advantage.  They are even ready to sacrifice others so that they may gain pleasure.  Fyodor Dostoevsky is right when he says in “Brothers Karamazov” that “If God doesn’t exists, everything is permitted.”  These false teachers want to indulge themselves in sin, and since God is in the way, they have to eliminate threat.  And the only way to get what they so lustfully desire, is by claiming that “God doesn’t exist.”  With God out of the way, they now are building their own ethical theory that is based totally on something else.

            In the past, as it has always been, through the “seed of religion” in their hearts, as John Calvin calls it, people always build their ethical theory on the worship of the deity.  Therefore, ethical theories that have been passed on through religions always have their basis on the mandate of the deities.  Thus ethics, since the beginning of time, has always been seen as the sacred duty of man, until the twentieth century.  These false teachers, in their evil desire, kill God, and then proceed to build the new ethics on the highest creature they can find on earth, human beings.  And so, humans receive the coveted crown and the throne of God.  Since then, man has been at the center of ethics.  Discussions of ethics then center more on human.  If one is to do good thing, the reasoning is found in what good may result in man.  The boundary of good has been expanded so as to be very blurry.  The definition of good becomes obscure as there are not uniting definition of good.  Each group of people comes up with a different definition.  Even each individual person comes up with their version of good.  The closest to home is the good that is based on physical pleasure.  Sexual pleasure is one of them, and is one of the most tempting in the depraved human world.  These false teachers know this, for they too have the tendency to indulge in it.  Peter points out the fact that these false teachers “18speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. Their boast is the boast of folly.  And their modus operandi is to entice the weak by sensual passions of the flesh.  The weak are those who just come out from the depraved life but still feel the great pull from the corrupt lifestyle.  And the most terrible false teaching they bring is that “19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. The promise of freedom is the atomic bomb of false teaching.  Their secret weapon has been unleashed, the “God is dead” theology that is now being accepted widely in the modern world.  This theology is very appealing for many people because with it comes what the false teachers call as “freedom.”  But Peter is right, this freedom is not really freedom.  It is just an illusion.  The false teachers teach freedom, but they actually are slaves of corruption.  This makes them not free.  Their freedom is not true freedom.  Peter points out to the fundamental and unshakeable truth that “For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. These false teachers promote false freedom, since they themselves are enslaved by their corrupted desire.  In their enslavement, they cannot not be corrupted.  They think they are free, because they think they can do whatever corruption they want to do without feeling guilty as it used to be when “God is not dead.”  They think that when they can do depraved thing at will, they are free.  Little do they know that they cannot get out of that trap even if they want it to.  For the only person who can free them from the bondage of sinful desire and its corruption that leads them to death is Jesus Christ.

            Assigning the authority to man as the basis of ethics is their second greatest mistake.  But it is a consequence they have to manage for ‘killing God.”  They actually can’t kill God.  Nietzsche does not discuss why and how God is dead.  He only declares it.  He doesn’t know for sure.  Or in fact he knows that God cannot be dead.  The only thing man can do if to live in Zarathustra’s proclamation is by deceiving oneself.  They have to repeat over and over again to themselves as if it were true that “God is dead.”  Soon, in the state of depravity, with the false statement being repeated as if true, one will think it is true.  Once the damage is done, one will believe that it is the only truth.  Once the category of God is gone in their mind, they must find a replacement.  The entire system of life depends on that category.  If that category is empty, the whole system will collapse.  The only suitable replacement is found in “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” that is the ubermensch or the superman.  Man becomes the only candidate.  And so, the measurement standard that is used to be put on God is now on the shoulder of man.  The deprived soul cannot want anything else except corrupted desires.  They design their own way of life, which they call freedom.  The freedom they think they have is actually false freedom, or more accurately it is slavery.  They think they have achieved freedom because they have become their own master.  But they are greatly mistaken because they are in the state of slavery under sin.  So, by “killing God” they willingly give the authority to their master, sin.  God is the only one that can destroy sin, but yet he is rejected.  How then can they call themselves free?

            What makes this situation worse is the fact that they have been freed once by Jesus Christ.  But then they returned to their old way of life thinking that they have on their hands a new way of life, called freedom.  From slavery to slavery.  They try to avoid being God’s slaves, and thus plunging themselves into the enslavement by sin of which God freed them in the first place.  This recalls the rebellion of Israel at the border of Canaan when they refuse to believe that God will give Canaan to them, and they wickedly desired to return back to Egypt, the land of slavery.  Peter rightly quotes the Proverbs: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”  Their teaching is a destructive heresy, which will in turn destroy themselves and all their followers.  Peter said that it is better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing the truth to turn back from it.  It is an active act of betrayal.  This is worse.  This is beyond stupidity.  It is like a man being rescued from his terrible condition, living in the street, eating garbage, to the life that gets him to eat decent food, and live in a house; but then he craves to live like he was, in the street and eating garbage, rejecting the good life.  When God rescues humans, God puts them back to their original design state, God’s slaves.  But being God’s slaves is different than being Egypt’s slaves.  Being Egypt’s slaves Israel suffered.  They were tortured.  They were robbed of their dignity.  They had no freedom.  But being God’s slaves, man is not tortured, but instead man is protected, is preserved, is loved, is justly treated, enjoys grace and mercy, lives freely within the boundary of God’s law and their constitutional nature as originally designed by God.  God gives them back their dignity as man.  With such dignity comes their sacred duty.  Even Immanuel Kant understands that the only possible basis for ethics is man’s duty.  Confucius too understands the same thing, that the only possible basis for ethics is the mandate that heaven gives to man.  But this modern world is strange.  It boasts freedom, but yet it actually is slavery wrapped in the illusion of freedom.

            The illusion of freedom and the assignment of authority to man boils down to the currently hailed “human rights.”  The promotion of human rights has been exploited to the point of damaging its own noble idea and purpose.  When the founding fathers of the United States of America spoke about human rights, their purpose was noble for they aimed at human dignity.  But soon, their noble purpose faded and the only residue it felt is on the statement of the declaration of independence.  Human rights without the existence of God spells destruction.  Kant believes that the existence of God is necessary for ethics to work.  For him, ethics is nonexistent when God doesn’t.  Human rights has been exploited until we no longer recognize its nobility.  In the name of human rights people in North America bear arms.  Thus the nature of the second amendment in the US.  But as we listen to news every day, we cannot help but notice that gun violence has become more frequent.  The application of the human rights in this matter has harmed human rights itself.  The very argument that every person has his/her right to bear arm, has done more damage to human life, of which the human rights philosophy is based.  The right to live is the most essential in the statement of human rights, but yet the trivial human right to bear arms has trumped it.  The whole talk of human rights plus the relativistic postmodern philosophy being the dominant worldview results in total chaos.  Because everyone wants to be the authority for his/her own life.  This they call freedom.  Even Kant’s first principle of ethics is “Do no harm.”  And this first principle speaks of the sacred duty of man and not human rights.  The silver rule as spelled out by Confucius: “Do not do to others what you do not wish others do to you,” is also a principle of the sacred duty of man, not of human rights.  The golden rule as spoken by our Lord and King Jesus Christ: “Do to others what you wish others do to you,” is the principle of the sacred duty of man to their neighbors.  The basis of ethics should never be laid upon human rights.  The basis of ethics should always be laid upon the sacred duty of man.  Human freedom without God will allow man to do everything evil.  Such freedom is slavery.  Only by returning to the true God man may be truly free.  Free from evil, and thus free to do good.  When we are free to do good, we are fulfilling our sacred duty as mandated by God himself.  Human life can only be improved when everyone understands his/her duty and intentionally does it out of reverent to their creator, savior, Lord, and King.
- The Business of Christian Education LXXXIII -

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