Recent events, particularly in north Africa, have been quite compelling. Autocrats who have ruled for decades have been seriously challenged and even toppled within weeks. People are rising up throughout north Africa and in the Arab world, seeking greater freedom. Much has already changed in Tunisia and Egypt; in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and Algeria, things will likely never be the same. Other countries suffering under oppressive regimes in Africa and Asia have been inspired to seek change and freedom in their own lands.
Such events demonstrate the universality of the human desire for freedom. People want to be free to make their own determinations; they do not want to have their ideas and life’s direction imposed on them from some autocratic government. Oppressive governments may persevere for a time, but when the time is right, people will stop fearing the government and will seek after a greater level of freedom.
Yet even if humans enjoy freedom from governmental interference in their lives, such does not mean that they are truly “free.” Even if all of the oppressive regimes of the world collapse, and representative democracy flourishes around the world, people will still not be truly free, for they still suffer from the oppression of the Evil One (cf. Acts 10:38).
We wage a war for freedom that has eternal significance. It is ongoing, greater than all of these conflicts we see in the world today, and it involves everyone, whether they understand it or not. The oppressive power is the god of this world, Satan, who has enslaved all people under the bondage of sin and death (Romans 6:16, 23, Ephesians 6:12). Freedom from this oppressive bondage only comes through Jesus Christ, as it is written:
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death (Romans 8:2).
Those who overcome the powers of darkness through Jesus will receive eternal life and glory (Romans 8:17-18, Revelation 12:11). This victory can only be accomplished when one places their trust in Jesus, seeking to follow His path, doing His will, setting aside the paths of darkness which leads to death (Romans 8:1-11). If we have been set free from sin and death in order to serve the Lord and have eternal life, then we have found true freedom, whether we live in a democracy or under a dictatorship. This freedom cannot be taken away from us unless we voluntarily give it up (Romans 8:31-39)!
Ultimately, these recent events again prove the wisdom of God in Isaiah 40:6-8: the governments and artifices of man are like the grass of the field– here today, gone tomorrow. It is amazing how quickly they can fall apart even though they were oppressive and seemingly strong and impregnable. Nothing man can create– no form of government, no ideology, no philosophy– will endure, but the word of God will remain forever. We have the opportunity to be truly free, having been born again to a living hope through the imperishable seed of the Word of God, no longer enslaved to the devices of Satan or the traditions or philosophies of man (Colossians 2:8-9, 1 Peter 1:3, 22-25). Let us find that which is freedom indeed and serve the Risen Christ!
Ethan R. Longhenry