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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Trading Freedom for Security

Numbers 14:4 (ESV) 4 And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
The Hebrew people had been slaves under the hand of the pharoah of Egypt. They had cried out for God to deliver them. He did. He sent Moses who led them right to the door of the Promised Land. Then, they found out how hard it would be to get into the Promised Land and they lost all their faith in God and Moses. They wanted to go back to their slavery rather than risk what they had by going into the Promised Land. They were trading their freedom for security.

But God doesn't want us to strive for security. He wants us to trust Him. He wants us to realize how great He is. We can't really praise Him without knowing His greatness.

There are two ways that God works with us in growing our faith. He gives us challenges which will cause us to trust Him pr He takes away those things which have made us secure. This brings us back to Himself so that we will walk in obedience and trust Him again. In other words, I will either volitionally walk into the darkness or He will turn out the lights!

Trusting God brings freedom. Jesus said, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." The New International Commentary (Gospel of John, p. 403) makes these statements: "Clearly they were inclined to think that what Jesus said was true. But they were not prepared to yield him the far-reaching allegiance that real trust in him implies. This is a most dangerous spiritual state. To recognize that truth is in Jesus and to do nothing about it means that in effect one ranges oneself with the enemies of the Lord. It means also that there is some powerfurl spiritural force holding back the would-be believer from what is recognized as the right course of action. Anyone in that position is not free but a slave."

Abiding in the word of Jesus brings freedom but it will not bring security in the sense that mankind wants security. The only security that a believer has is found standing in the obedience of the Lord. That takes trust because those who are obedient put their lives in His hands whether it brings prosperity or devastation. They give up the security of the things which appear to make a person secure for the freedom of following the Lord in whatever He says.

For example, each time I preach in another country I give up my security of standing on the ground and get on a plane which will take me where I need to go. I cannot have the security of  the ground and the freedom to get where I need to go. (Even boarding a ship gives up the security of standing on the ground.)

Moses had given up his security to obediently lead his people to the Promised Land. He trusted in God. Even his own people attacked him. His only security was God Himself. But, isn't that the only security we need? I know it is the only one which provides freedom.

You can never be fully secure and fully free. You will always trade one for the other.

I am choosing freedom.

2 comments: said...

Knowledge, faith, love and obedience; I will comment from these angles.

"My people perish for lack of knowledge."  We need knowledge, not any knowledge, but knowledge of God, and of the Faith.  It is important we acquire knowledge of truths - the truths of God.  It is not necessarily that ignorance can excuse us, all the time. Fire, for example, is hot. If you are ignorant, and put your hand into a naked fire, you get burnt, regardless your ignorance.  One of the problems is that many of us are lacking in knowledge of God, and His truths or Word.  If we do not make the effort to acquire the relevant knowledge - knowledge of God and His truths, we can be ignorant of the greatness of God, the love of God, the faithfulness of God, the holiness of God, His commands, prescriptions, etc, etc. There were certain commands or prescriptions, in the past, that some individuals were ignorant of, and ignorance made them perish.  The first time King David tried to move the Ark of the LORD to the City of David,  Uzzah died because of his ignorance in how the Ark was to be handled, he steadied the Ark with his hands when the oxen pulling the cart carrying the Ark stumbled.

The lack of knowledge can also curtail the growth of faith. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17). So if people lack the knowledge of the Word, faith cannot form or grow. One component of faith is belief in a truth.  If you have no knowledge of the truth, you cannot believe.  If we have no knowledge of the greatness of God, how can we develop faith in the greatness of God; little or no faith leads to little or no trust.  Operative faith is when we have a belief in a truth of God, and believe it with so strong, a conviction that action results.  When the conviction is not strong enough, no action results, nothing is done, and instead, maybe something else is done.  The Israelites were not of strong enough conviction, in their belief that God would fight for them in the Promised Land, and so, they did not want to proceed on, instead they wanted to do another thing - to go back to Egypt.  We need to grow in faith, although I am not going to talk about how to grow in faith, here, for it will take a separate article to do that.

Of course, no one has full knowledge, of God, and of the faith. Without knowledge, no belief can form, and no faith can arise; and when this happens, when we are not sure of the will or intention of God, how are we to view the situation before us? 

The four friends of the Prophet Daniel had a situation like that.  The king had wanted to throw them into the fiery furnace, because they had refused to bow to the idol statue of the King.  Did they know if the LORD would come and save them from being burned inside the furnace? No, they have no knowledge of that.  So, on that point, they did not have much of a faith because the specific knowledge was not available to believe in. Yet, they refused the King to bow to the idol, and said that they were prepared to be thrown into the fiery furnace. What was the thing that enabled them to do that? 

Continue.... said...

Continue from above

It is their love for their God. They knew worshipping an idol was an abomination to God, and so, they were not about to displease their God.  Preachers rarely preached it - if you love God, you are to please Him, and so, you are to obey Him unreservedly, even when it means sacrifice or death.  John 14:15 said that those who love me (God), obey my commands; and John 14:21a said, those who obey my commands are the ones who love me (God). The prohibitive command was that people of God could not worship another or idol. The four young men obeyed even if it meant they would lose their lives, because they loved their God.  They told the King that even if the LORD would not come for them, they would rather be thrown into the furnace than to bow to the statue.  It showed how much they loved God. How much do you and I love God. If persecution comes, will we scatter?

Is there freedom in the Lord? Yes, the four friends of Daniel were free, free to even refuse the King.  Of course, there is no absolute freedom, but there is freedom that is consistent with the Word. We are always free to act consistent with the Word, although our freedom may be opposed by men. God recognizes our freedom, but not necessarily, men.  Likewise, like freedom, security should be about security in the Lord. If you abide in the Lord, yes, there is security, but not security as viewed by the world. Security in the Lord is God with you, even death takes it not, away! The worldly view of security is of course different; if you have to face persecution, that is not secure, from the worldview point; if you have to die, that too, is not secure, even losing your job meant insecurity.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions