Free World

Quoted from Pariah, a new movie:

“I am broken. I am broken open. Breaking is freeing. Broken is freedom. I am not broken; I am free.”

First the context for this quote. I was trying to find a movie to watch from a bunch of trailers and the poster for this was a nondescript white background with black handwriting defining the word “Pariah.” English major interest is piqued at this point. However, this is actually a movie about a teen girl choosing a lesbian identity and calling it freedom. This trailer also uses the word “broken” to mean that some restraint is broken. (Like coming out of the closet… or breaking out of it.) I’m analyzing this thinly veiled worldly perspective on being free to make your own choices because I think I need to combat the sin of wilfulness. Wilfulness is related, but that is departing from the above theme a little.

As CJ Mahaney has tastefully worded it, we are not deprived but depraved. A pariah may seem deprived of societal status, but because any pariah is still human, pariahs are depraved too. Just like any accepted member of society is depraved. We are idolaters in some way/shape/form when anything is more important to us than God. It is increasingly common in world culture to twist the gospel of “grace for sinners and deliverance for the sinned against” into “unconditional acceptance for the victims of others’ lack of acceptance.” Celebrities like Lady Gaga promote a false gospel. Their songs sing that God accepts you just as you are – God has unconditional love for you. This is not the gospel. The gospel is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24)

CJ Mahaney continues, “The gospel is better than unconditional love.” God accepts us just as Christ is accepted. God never accepts me as I am, but as I am in Christ. And in Christ I am changed from the depravity in which I was born. Sometimes it seems like identity is the one thing we should not give up or change. To continue with the example, Lady Gaga’s front page Metro editorial subtitle was “Let identity be your religion.” But identity need not be so untouchable if we can say with gladness, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) “I was born this way” (Gaga), but I am being made new after the likeness of God (Ephesians 4:20-24).

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Romans 6:20-23 (ESV)

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That bold part about being free just means not having to be righteous. Free to not be righteous is not so great a thing. And the measure of righteousness here is not “what feels right” but what God ordains as holy and pleasing to Him.

2 Peter 2:18-19 (ESV)

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.

Being overcome is to be subdued or won over — owned (pwned) might be a curiously fitting modern word, though maybe not entirely accurate. If you give in to something, even something that seems or feels good, you are overcome. And to that you are a slave.

John 8:31-38 (ESV)

The Truth Will Set You Free

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

That’s how we get freedom. Not by being “broken open” and released as ourselves, but to abide in the word of God and to know the truth. You’re either free to break rules or free to follow them because you are not trapped by thinking that breaking the rules means you’re free. If I didn’t use too many negatives, that might make sense.

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Well, that was a good review for having listened to the first two parts of this sermon series. If you’re interested, CJ Mahaney’s three-part sermon series, The Idol Factory can be downloaded free here:

(Quotes above are from the first 15 minutes of Part 3. An outline is also available.)

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Belts make you stand straight

Belt of truth. Standing upright.

I have recently learned why soldiers tie their waists tightly with a belt. Kinda like a corset. This practice is featured in the final battle in Glory (a movie about the American Civil War) when Robert Shaw prepares to attack Fort Wagner. According to my dad, belting your waist keeps your back straighter and makes you stronger.

This stirs another thought. The belt of truth in the Armour of God may not be as randomly assigned as I thought. It’s as if truth can prop you up when you want to slump, straighten the crooked, and so make you stronger in the war against lies. Pretty important stuff, if you consider (realise) that the whole world is a warzone of truth versus falsehood.

Personally, my heart sinks right to the bottom of the pool when I hear someone talking about believing something that contradicts the truth. I’ve realised how fickle our (my own) standards for truth are. We like keeping our own standards of truth. Truth cannot hurt us. Anything that hurts can’t be true! Even though we know this is silly when we see it pointed out, we still use this ‘ruler’ to measure truth because for some reason we think hurt ≣ no good. [≣ is always equal to]

Relativism. Justice.

When people tell me that they think truth and morals are relative – say, that we today cannot judge people of the past for their actions, or that you cannot judge me and vice versa – are they not admitting that among us humans, no one can claim to know justice?

And yet when we say that no one of us can judge perfectly, but we still desire justice in some way, – say, to point out the ‘wrongdoings’ of  Israel or Palestine – do we not subconsciously infer that there is Justice existing ‘out there’, somewhat out of our reach, where we know of it but do not know or practice it? (That perfect Justice is somehow possible.)

We are like children squabbling over spilled milk; a tumbled block castle; an unsatisfactory game of Monopoly. (Though in my book, Monopoly is an unsatisfactory game in itself.) We as children appeal to Mom/Dad, whom we recognise as a higher order of justice. And then when that justice rules against our favour, sometimes we whine about it, and mumble “old-fashioned,” “playing favourites!” “what a wheeze.”

So it is with us and God.

I think we desire his capital-J Justice, and yet we think: “Oh, you allow innocent people to die?” “I did not see you punish that evil person!” Forgetting to consider that we may not understand the justice that is meted out, or temporarily withheld, by that Justice, we sometimes throw up our hands and give up on God being good in any possible way.

Hence we desire absolute Justice, resent the thought of it being ‘still to come’, but we don’t dare to claim it ourselves. No sane man would.

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”” John 14:6-7 [read the chapter]

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” 2 Timothy 4:1-5 [read the chapter]