Do "Free Elections" Really Make People Free?

Do "Free Elections" Really Make People Free?

There's been much excitement over the recent elections held in Iraq and the claim as to how "successful" they were. As efforts continue to advance the cause of "democracy" around the world, one basic fundamental truth has been ignored even by a number who profess to be "evangelical" in the Christian faith, and this includes the president of the United States who has been the ideal "poster boy" of those who claim to be "evangelical" in their Christian position. If we pay a bit of attention to what Jesus Christ said about the matter of being free, it quickly becomes clear that documents, laws, and political organization cannot provide freedom where it counts most -- but then, that's been the monumental problem which sticks closer to us than our shadow -- a problem that even too many "evangelicals" in church and politics refuse to honestly face!

In the United States it is a privilege which is often taken for granted. At the age of 18 a citizen can register to vote and cast his/her ballot in every election from that moment on in our republic. We in the U.S. of A. make no secret of claiming that we are a "free" people.

For some time the U.S. has been involved in conflicts in such places as Afghanistan and Iraq. President Bush and members of his administration have stressed the fact that the people of both countries will finally be "free." Elections have just been held in Afghanistan and are scheduled to be held in Iraq come January 2005.

We have also been told of the need to spread "democracy" throughout the Middle East and other places in the world where people are oppressed and under harsh and brutal governments -- according to our leaders and some others involved in the "coalition forces" in Iraq, many peoples need to be set "free" as we continue to wage "war on terrorism!"

The misleading conclusion is that if a people had been under harsh and brutal government rulers which denied them or restricted them in voting privileges, then they will be "free" if such governing authorities have been removed from power and "free elections" set in place.

Really? Does political freedom guarantee that a nation of people is truly free? President Bush has repeatedly stressed that people such as the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq want to be "free" and it is his intent to arrange for a political setting in which these people will be able to elect their leaders by choice on marked ballots as we do in the U.S.

But here is where the major "bump in the road" takes place -- to be truly free in the fullest sense of the word, one must be liberated from the one thing that destroys us individually and collectively -- that one thing is human sin -- that is, defiance against Almighty God and His spiritual, moral, and ethical laws!

What this means is that we are all born with a nature prone to do evil -- to sin, as it were, against God and our fellow human beings.

It is described in the following ways:

    as being a universal malady - "As it is written: 'There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.'" (Romans 3:10-18).

    as being internal in origin - Jesus described the problem this way: "What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man." (Mark 7:20-23).

    as being a bondage from which we are unable to break free through our own efforts - Jesus, the final Authority on human behavior and relationships, said: "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin." (John 8:34).

    as leading to a very destructive and tragic conclusion - "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire." (Revelation 20:11-15).

Is there a solution? Can a person know what it is to be REALLY free?

The answer is an unequivocal "Yes!"

But there is only one way to be liberated from the bondage and eternal disaster of sin -- and that is through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who was crucified and died for the sins of every member of the human race. The Scriptures speak often of His sacrifice on our behalf and the fact that He satisfied the demands of God's justice which judges and condemns all human sin. Note the following statements:

    But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. (Romans 5:8-10).

    For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures….(1 Corinthians 15:3).

    For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21).

    Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree")….(Galatians 3:13).

    For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: "Who committed no sin, nor was guile found in His mouth"; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed. (1 Peter 2:21-24).

    In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (satisfaction) for our sins. (1 John 4:10).

    "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:16-19).

Jesus stressed the issue of freedom in the Gospel of John when He said:

"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, 'You will be made free'?" Jesus answered them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:31-36).

Now then, do you see that political freedom does not really make people "free?" Citizens of Iraq, Afghanistan, the United States, or any other country are never free until they have repented of their sins, received Jesus Christ into their lives as Savior and Lord, and are committed to serving Him all their remaining days in this world.

A major blunder on the part of President Bush has been his statements that Muslims and Christians worship the same God! This has been done in high profile settings such as a news conference with Tony Blair in the UK during November 2003.

Such a position suggests then that you can worship any "god" of your choosing and if you can walk into a ballot booth and mark an "X" beside the name of a candidate of your choice, then you are a "free" person. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Too many professing Christians, including a number identifying as "evangelical," have betrayed the Lord they claim to follow and trashed the faith that is to be centered in Jesus Christ alone by compromising and allowing for legitimate existence of "gods" such as Allah, Vishnu, Shiva, Buddha, and many others. This has led to the popular activity of "dialoging" with those of other "faiths" so that Christianity is demoted from its solitary position of superiority and uniqueness down to a level equal with all the other religions of the world. The end result is that Christianity is "just one of the boys" in the world neighborhood and is no better nor worse than any of the others -- just pick and choose what suits your fancy religiously and you'll come out ok -- after all there are many ships that cross the sea and many paths to the top of the mountain, are there not?

In the "land of the free and the home of the brave" there is a preponderance of evidence that a majority of citizens and not a few politicians are enslaved to sin and self and have yet to experience freedom as defined by Jesus Christ -- if it were otherwise the moral, ethical, and spiritual climate of our republic would be radically different from what it is at the present time!

Now for a final question which has obvious eternal implications -- does your freedom extend far, far beyond a mere political arrangement in which you can walk into a voting booth and punch a hole beside the name of a candidate who has promised you the moon and a myriad of other things to go with it?

A Significant Selah Moment!

O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? even cry out to You, "Violence!" And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.
Habakkuk 1:2-2 (NKJV)

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness....

It is time for You to act, O LORD, for they have regarded Your law as void. Therefore I love Your commandments more than gold, yes, than fine gold! Therefore all Your precepts concerning all things I consider to be right; I hate every false way.

Romans 1:18; Psalm 119:126-128 NKJV

November 20, 2004
Clayton D. Harriger
Elder in Full Connection
Western PA Annual Conference
The United Methodist Church
and presently pastor of
Gipsy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Gipsy, PA
AND Non-Affiliated registered voter, Cambria Co. PA

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