About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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The Limitations Of Liberty  


One issue that is polarizing the population of the western world these days concerns individual freedoms within the context of community constraints.  Does the individual trump the community or does the community trump the individual, or is there any balance between the two?  Long before the American Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution were formulated, this issue might have been in the mind of God, as is hinted in Genesis 2:16 and 17.


"And the LORD God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.'"


Note the words "you are free," "you must not," and, "you will certainly die" in this passage.  These words suggest that God created the individual to be free within the constraint of a command.  Stepping beyond the constraint would end in certain death, a death that was realized, as we read in Genesis 3.  Did God place limitations on liberty?     


However you view the creation account of Genesis, I believe that God assigned the universe to exist in a state of balance, and getting out of balance produces problems.  As balance applies to a national community, to prevent a free-for-all fight of individual freedoms, certain communal constraints must be instituted and observed.  It's where the individual agrees to limit his liberty for the benefit of the community as the community agrees to limit its laws for the benefit of the individual.  This balancing act is obviously difficult, if not impossible, in a world where our me-first, sinfully-selfish human nature trumps all of life.  No wonder we find ourselves in this present fight.  Nevertheless, to escape national death, this balance must be realized.  From my personal prophetic perspective, like previous civilizations, I believe the death of the West is inevitably certain. 


However you think about this issue, and some of you will disagree with me, Galatians 5:13 applies to all who call themselves Christians.


"You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love."   


Whether it's a national community or a marriage community between a husband and wife, balancing individual liberty with communal constraints is necessary for the health of both.  Stepping beyond these limitations ends in certain death for all.  Nevertheless, as Paul wrote, the fundamental fight is the fight the individual has with his flesh.  Let's think about winning that fight.            

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