God’s Moral Standards and Our Freedom

To conclude this series on underpinnings to our freedom, let me relate a personal incident.

When I moved out of South Carolina to go to Seminary, I did not have to change my driver’s license. I was a student still residing in South Carolina. However, when I took my first church in Georgia, I had to make the change. Then two years  later, I had to take a South Carolina written test. One question stood out to me.


You are driving on a newly paved road that has no lines painted on it. Which should you do?

a. Drive anywhere you want to.
b. Drive with one wheel on the pavement and one on the shoulder.
c. Drive straight down the middle.
d. Drive as if the lines were still painted there.

I knew “A” was not the answer. The test had been made by older people and the older folks I’d known didn’t let you do anything you wanted to.

“B” was not the case either since the shoulder has objects that could puncture tires.

“C” wasn’t an option since it would result in head-on collisions.

That left “D” as the logical answer. If everyone drove as if the lines were there, everyone would be safe.

We live in a society that once had the Christian principles written large everywhere we looked. However, the lines of God’s law are now erased. “How, then should we live?”

We cannot live anyway we want to. We cannot live recklessly. We can and must live as if the lines were still there. Thus, we will suffer no harm by living according to God’s word and law. Psalm One puts before us two ways to live and the results for each.

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

I end with a prayer from the words of an old Puritan divine

“Things Needful”

[O] Eternal Source,
Author of all created being and happiness,
[We] adore [You] for making [us] capable of religion,
That [all] may be taught to say:
‘Where is God [our] Maker, who gives songs in the night?’
But degeneracy has spread over our human race,
Turning glory into shame,
Rendering us forgetful of [You].
We know it is [Your] power alone
That can recall wandering children,
Can impress on them a sense of Divine things,
And can render that sense lasting and effectual;
From [You] proceed all good purposes and desires,
And the defusing of piety and happiness.
[You have] knowledge of [our] soul’s secret principles,
And [are] aware of [our] desire to spread the Gospel.
Make [us almsgivers] to give [Your]
Bounties to the indigent,
Comfort to the mentally ill,
Restoration to the sin-diseased,
Hope to the despairing,
Joy to the sorrowing,
Love to the prodigals.
Blow away the ashes of unbelief by [Your] Spirit’s breath
And give [us] light, fire, and warmth of love.
[We] need spiritual comforts
That are gentle, peaceful, mild, refreshing,
That will melt [us] into conscious lowliness before [You],
That will make [us] feel and rest in [You] as [our] All.
Fill the garden of [our souls] with the wind of love,
That the scents of the Christian life may be wafted to others;
Then come and gather the fruits to [Your] glory.
So shall [we] fulfill the great end of [our] being-
To glorify [You] and be a blessing to men…

I add these words to the old Puritan’s—

And, may God Almighty—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—bless us. May He preserve our freedom for all time unto future generations. And, may God save our beloved nation from an atheistic life lived in prosperity while forgetting God, our Maker and Sustainer. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Next time: an extended Series on the “Revelation of Jesus Christ,” the last book of our New Testament.

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Riches are no Substitute for God

“The truth shall set you free.” John 8:31

No Self-indulgent living

The Jews Jesus addressed in John 8 did not see it as such, but freedom, that God-given privilege of each human being, was not given that men might indulge in self-centered living. Men were created to serve and love God.

Colossians 1:16 states the reason for God’s creation of man—

16 For by him [that is, “Christ”] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. [emphasis mine]

Because man is created by God and for him, man cannot live rightly for a lesser purpose. Man cannot stoop to live for his own happiness when he was created to glorify and enjoy God forever.

Isobel Kuhn once related, “Mrs. McFarlane, principal of our language school in Yangchow and a dear warrior saint, had taught me [a] metaphor.” She said, “Keep your treasures on the open palm of your hand. If you hold something tight clenched in your fist, God may have to hurt you in order to open your fingers and take it from you. But if it is offered on the open palm of your hand, you will hardly know when it is gone.” (see Kuhn below)

Happiness cannot be our primary goal.

All earthly possessions are given to us by God. We are stewards of those gifts and out of them we give to God our tithes and offerings. As stewards, we are not to hoard things as if they are the ground of our happiness.


An early print of Scrooge as “the Miser.”

Happiness as a primary motive for living is an appetite which is never satisfied. For instance, John D. Rockefeller was once asked, “How much money is enough?” He replied, “Just a little bit more.”


A print of a family in a debtor’s prison for spending beyond their income.

No matter how much a person acquires and amasses of this world’s goods, it always takes “just a little bit more” to make him happy, if this is his primary motive for living. Nathaniel Hawthorne has correctly pointed out “happiness in this world, if it comes at all, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads [you] on a wild goose chase, and is never attained.” As we live underneath Christ’s Lordship, we discover what true freedom is. It is never freedom from God. It is freedom through service to God.


One website has prayers for all kinds of prosperity.

The false god of our age is “prosperity.”

If things satisfied, wouldn’t Americans be the most satisfied people on Earth? We have more stuff than any generation before ours. The overflow we deposit in rented public storage units. The stock market is up substantially, but we want it to go higher with no bursting bubble this time. Then what? What will we do with more? Will tomorrow’s more satisfy when today’s more hasn’t? (see Thomas below)

God’s truth sets us free. Hoarded possessions enslave us whether we have many or few. 

I once taught a college Bible course at an college extension center in Georgia. I noticed whenever I taught the janitor would clean just outside the door. Obviously he was listening.

During a break he approached me and asked a question. He inquired, “Doesn’t the Bible teach that rich people will not go to heaven?”

I suspected what he was getting at. Poor people will go to heaven. I gave him an answer he didn’t want to hear. “I have found that whether we have many or few possessions, holding on to them too tightly, will exclude us from receiving Christ as our Lord and Savior.” He never cleaned in the hall where I was teaching again.

Hoarded possessions enslave us whether we have many or few. 


Kuhn, Isobel. (2012). In the Arena. Accessed 10 December 2018 from https://lakatosfamily.wordpress.com/tag/isobel-kuhn/

Thomas, Cal. (2015). A prescription for decline — worshiping the false gods of prosperity and money. Accessed 10 December 2018 from https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/a-prescription-for-decline-worshipping-the-false-gods-of-prosperity-and-money

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved


Freedom is Doing God’s Will

We have covered four underpinnings of Biblical freedom as Jesus taught it.

I. Freedom is not total autonomy. “…hold to my teaching…” John 8:31

II. Freedom requires virtue as its guiding principle. “You shall know the truth…” John 8:32

III. Freedom requires obedience to Divine authority structures. “You are…my disciples…” John 8:32

IV. Freedom is liberation from sin. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36

Now in the last few posts let’s look at the fifth underpinning of our freedom.

V. Freedom is doing the will of God.

“The truth shall set you free.” John 8:31

Freedom in Christ

Mere “human happiness” is no substitute for fulfilling God’s intended purpose for our lives.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins with these most-frequently memorized of its words-

Q.1 What is the chief end of man?

A.1 The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. (see WSC below)

In the early nineteenth century a person was considered illiterate if he had not memorized the entire Westminster Shorter Catechism. In fact, one would find it impossible to matriculate at most state-operated colleges in the South without having previously memorized it.

However, we in the modern world no longer memorize Catechisms. We are beyond that. At least, we think we are. What we have lost in the modern world is an adequate motive for living. Catechisms in the past supplied our forefathers with a Biblical motive for living.

In the modern world we prefer our own “scripture” to God’s. We have reduced all of life to the one phrase of the Declaration of Independence (called “American Scripture” by one author recently): the individual’s right “to the pursuit of happiness.”


Nathaniel Hawthorne says this about happiness—

Happiness in this world, when it comes, comes incidentally. Make it the object of pursuit, and it leads us a wild-goose chase, and is never attained. Follow some other object, and very possibly we may find that we have caught happiness without dreaming of it.
(See Hawthorne below)

How do we achieve happiness in this life if we cannot set it as our goal?

A Scottish lady, in her diary, relates how she was seized with a fever which threatened her life, ‘during the course of [the fever],’ she says, ‘the first question of the Assembly’s Catechism was brought to my mind

“What is the chief end of man?” as if some one had asked it.

When I considered the answer to it—“To glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever”—

I was struck with shame and confusion. I found I had never sought to glorify God in my life, nor had I any idea of what was meant by enjoying Him for ever. Death and judgment were set before me; my past sins came to my remembrance; I saw no way to escape the punishment due unto them, nor had I the least glimmering hope of obtaining the pardon of them through the righteousness of another.’

From this unhappy state she was shortly after delivered, by believing on the Lord Jesus as the only Savior of the guilty. (see Whitecross below) 

Christ on Cross

Like this lady, we have found freedom from guilt and shame in becoming a believer in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Doing Jesus’s will as his disciple is liberating.


Hawthorne, Nathaniel. (1875). Passages from the American Notebooks. Boston, MA: J. R. Osgood and Company, p. 191.

Whitecross, John. (1968 reprint Banner of Truth Trust). Retrieved 3 December 2018 from http://www.shortercatechism.com/resources/whitecross/wsc_wh_001.html

WSC. Retrieved 3 December 2018 from http://www.shortercatechism.com/resources/wsc/wsc_001.html

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Ending Slavery to Sin through Christ

John 8:34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.


Dickens’s portrait of Marley in A Christmas Carol. He was bound by his greed.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/67/Spurgeon.pngCharles Haddon Spurgeon says this about the phrase “whoever commits sin.”

“Depend upon it, acts of sin breed habits of sin; and habits are the chains which slaves wear. How many there are who are bound to their lusts with many [shackles]! Once, they seemed to enjoy the sin, and to hold it in subjection; but now it has bound them, and they cannot escape from it.” (see Spurgeon below).


If you doubt the veracity of Spurgeon’s claim, listen to Eugene O’Neill.

Be always drunken. Nothing else matters: that is the only question. If you would not feel the horrible burden of time weighing on your shoulders and crushing you to the earth, be drunken continually. Drunken with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will. But be drunken.  (see O’Neill below). 

All of  the substances that we use cannot deliver us from the guilt of sin.

Slavery to sin

All who live apart from a personal relationship with God through Christ are the slaves to sin. Ephesians 2:1-10 describes man’s natural state and the intervention of God to bring life to those who are spiritually dead. 

Image from https://www.childrensbread.org/index.php/en_us/obstacles/death

1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the [a]course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Sin predisposes people to turn away from [the] God who offers reconciliation by grace, and toward something that can allow them to pursue life autonomously, as a law unto themselves (see Guinness, p. 36, below). Only God can deliver man from slavery to sin.

Liberal theologians posit that society’s problems result from sin in its social structures. This is not the case, however. Sin in society is a result of sin within individuals’ hearts.

Dealing With People That Have a Wicked and Evil Heart

Jeremiah 7:9-10 describes the problem we have.

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately [incurably] wicked; who can know it?
10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.

This is why the ultimate solution cannot be governmental programs such as education, guaranteed income, or wealth redistribution schemes. The solution must touch the individual’s heart. This is why we desperately need a revival of religion that begins in the hearts of individuals and spreads to the entire society and its structures through regenerate individuals.

Christ alone can deliver us from sin’s slavery.


Jesus said, “If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed!”


Guinness, Os. (1992). No God but God. Chicago, IL Moody Press

O’Neill, Eugene. (1956). Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Accessed January 12, 2019 from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/60715-be-always-drunken-nothing-else-matters-that-is-the-only

Spurgeon, C. H. (1883). Exposition of John 8:28-59 from Spurgeon’s Sermons Volume 44: 1898. Accessed January 13, 2019 from https://www.ccel.org/ccel/spurgeon/sermons44.xxxv.html

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

See Sin for What it Is!

To break sin’s hold on us, we must first see it for what it actually is. 

Sin is cosmic rebellion against God,” R. C. Sproul reminds us.

What I meant by that statement was that even the slightest sin that a creature commits against his Creator does violence to the Creator’s holiness, His glory, and His righteousness. Every sin, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is an act of rebellion against the sovereign God who reigns and rules over us and as such is an act of treason against the cosmic King (see Sproul below).

I Peter 5:8 says, “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Satan uses sin as his means to hold people in bondage. Though defeated by Christ at the cross, he still has not been vanquished from the battlefield.

Satan expelled.jpg

Sin not only harms us, but it also does harm to God. In what sense does it harm God? Obviously, it does not harm his person. 

Fisher’s Catechism

If a person wants to be my friend for life, all he has to do is give me a good book. A church member once gave me two books he had purchased at a $1.00 book table at a bazaar. One title has influenced me more than other more expensive books I’ve bought over the years. It is Fisher’s Catechism, an exposition of the Westminster Shorter Catechism (see Fisher below). 

Q. 1:7. How varied is the glory of God?
A. Twofold: (1) his essential glory and (2) his declarative glory.

God’s essential glory is what he is in his being. As Fisher concludes—

Q. 1:8. What is God’s essential glory?
A. It is what he is absolutely in himself.

Q. 1:9. What is his declarative glory?
A. His showing, or making known his glory, to, in, and by his creatures.

I want to make this important distinction between two aspects of God’s glory clear. What God is in himself cannot be affected by us as his creatures. We cannot add to or detract from God’s essential glory.

What we say and do in relation to God on this earth can both increase and diminish his declarative glory. By our worship, testimony, and proclamation, we can increase God’s declarative glory. This is our great aim in the Church! 


Sadly, when we sin, we diminish the declarative glory of God. This is especially true if others see us sin. All see the effects of sin on us even if the act was in private. Sin is not just a personal choice. It actually is an affront against God. His law is a declaration of his character. When we deviate from his standard, we diminish the declarative glory of  God here in our world. 

Confessing Sin to God

In order for us to be forgiven, John sets forth our procedure in I John 1:9 

9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Harry Ironside said this about proper confession of sin—

In the Old Testament a person was to come to God with an offering and “So it shall be when a person is guilty in one of these, that he shall confess the sin he has committed” [AMP Leviticus 5:5]. This implies definiteness in confession. I’m afraid many of us never really get to God in confession because we are so indefinite. Someone may pray and say, “If You have seen any sin, anything wrong in me, forgive me.” Hold on a minute! Is there any sin; do you know of anything wrong? The proper way to make confession is to come to God acknowledging the [specific] wrong I have done. [See Harry Ironside below] 

In other words, we need to see sin for what it is and confess it as God has labeled it. Then, God will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 


Fisher, James. (1753, 1760). The Assembly’s Shorter Catechism Explained By Way of Question and Answer. Accessed 24 November 2018 from https://presbyterianreformed.org/1993/04/assemblys-shorter-catechism-explained-way-question-answer/

Harry Ironside. Commentary on I John accessed 17 November 2018 from https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/isn/1-john-1.html

© 2019 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved



Dominance by Sin is Slavery

We have covered three underpinnings of Biblical freedom as Jesus taught it.

I. Freedom is not total autonomy. “…hold to my teaching…” John 8:31

II. Freedom requires virtue as its guiding principle. “You shall know the truth…” John 8:32

III. Freedom requires obedience to Divine authority structures.

Now we shift to a fourth underpinning—

IV. Freedom is liberation from sin. 

34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.
36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. — John 8:34, 36

Jesus is addressing Jews who professed to believe his message. He engages in a little “shock treatment” of his audience. He seeks to determine who really believes in him and who has a false faith. One word got them very angry, the Greek word eleutheróō = “to make free” or “to set at liberty.” 

This really got their hackles up. They protested that they were Abraham’s children and had never been the slaves of anyone. (I think they forgot the Roman soldiers all around them everyday enforcing Roman rule. Pictured below.) Jesus then pointedly declares what slavery he is referring to—slavery to sin. 


We might raise such a similar objection today if someone were to suggest people are slaves in the modern world. We are freeborn citizens of the United States! Yet “Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50, surpassing deaths from car crashes, guns, and other diseases” (see Dupont below). Dupont’s article is titled,”Chemical Slavery.” 

Billy Graham suggested that people’s sinful lifestyles often spread themselves out in judgment before them (see Graham below). It is not necessary for God to unleash specific judgments every time someone sins (e.g. lightning bolts to strike them).

Certainly God can and does reach down and save persons from themselves when they call upon him for grace and mercy. II Peter 3:9 (NKJV)

9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Often, the sin itself carries with it its own punishment. Opioids, crystal meth, etc. certainly do! 

Midas turns daughter into gold

Compare King Midas, with the golden touch, touching his daughter and she becoming gold.

If you doubt addicts are slaves, click on this link to a story. Story of Effects of drug addiction

Notice the reference in this story to addiction and its root cause. 

“I could buy one [fentanyl pill] and I’d crush [it] up and snort [it]. Put [it] into four lines, and two lines would last me a full day. That’s how strong it was,” she says. “And if I did a whole pill, I’d OD.”

At the mention of overdose, Kati suddenly grows more serious.

“Every time I do dope, I know I’m taking a risk. I know I might die. But it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve OD’d, I still use the next day because the withdrawals are so bad.” 

Drugs and money

I think no one doubts that the person who is addicted to fentanyl is a slave and is in need of intervention to be saved from its consequences. Rehab works for some. Often it works over and over again since drug addicts often never get totally free, only a reprieve from drugs. Thus, only Jesus can save a person from addiction. And, there are so many addictions in our world today, e.g. pornography, gambling, hoarding, etc.

Matthew 11:28-30 gives hope to the hopeless—

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden (carry heavy burdens), and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

St. Augustine got to the root of all our problems when he said, “You made us for Yourself and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in You!” (see Augustine’s Confession below). 


Augustine’s Confessions. (1887 trans.). Accessed 9 November 2018 from http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1101.htm

Dupont, R. L. (n.d.) “Chemical Slavery:Understanding Addiction and Stopping the Drug Epidemic.” Accessed 8 November 2018 from https://static1.squarespace.com/static/ 575830e0b09f958d96b6e4df/t/5bcdc3de15fcc0be3c647a09/1540211678564/Chemical_Slavery_Press_Release.pdf

Fisher’s Catechism. (1765). Accessed 7 November 2018 from https://reformed.org/documents/fisher/index.html

Graham, W. F. (1985). Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Waco, TX Word Press. 

Guinness, Os. (1992). No God but God. Chicago, IL Moody Press

ICC Commentary on John. (Accessed 8 November 2018 from https://biblehub.com/ commentaries/icc/john/8.htm

Sproul, R. C. (2017). Accessed 7 November 2018 from https://www.ligonier.org/blog/sin-cosmic-treason/

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Freedom and Obedience to Government

“You are…my disciples…” John 8:32

Obedience to the civil law is a must for the Disciple of Christ.

1 John 3:4 defines sin as “lawlessness.” Anarchy even in civil protest is sin.  (See Acts 5 below for the qualification of obedience.) 

Note the aim of the French Revolution—

Leaders in the American Revolution were fighting for independence against imperial rule, but the leaders of the French Revolution had a very different enemy. They weren’t just fighting against their own king. They were fighting against all the current systems—including religion and traditional morals.

The leaders of the French Revolution turned to sweeping laws in chasing their obsession with liberation—and with each new law, they branded new swathes of society as enemies of the “revolution.” Likewise, under communism the doctrine of “the personal is political” became a reason for creating new laws, and similarly, each new law identified a new set of “enemies.” (see Epoch Times below)


An engraving shows the beheading of Louis XVI during the French Revolution. (Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Distrust of Government

Older people, when I was young, had come through the Great Depression and had fought two World Wars. They trusted the government.

My generation witnessed two “military interventions” that were in reality undeclared wars—Korea and Vietnam. I saw buddies go to Nam and come back damaged. Some did not come back at all. We tended not to trust the government.

I was drafted late in the Vietnam War. My lottery number was 11, but I (along with 170+ other young men sent to Ft. Jackson that day from Greenville, SC) was sent back home. We scratched our heads in disbelief. We didn’t know it at the time, but secret negotiations were under way that would eventually end the war.

In the end, the point for me was that I was citizen of this great country and if Uncle Sam wanted me to serve, I had no reason not to. I believed in obedience to government even when I didn’t like it. I went to Ft. Jackson that day as an obedient citizen.

God established human government


Lady justice pictured as blindfolded, impartial.

Romans 13:1-7 sets forth God’s establishing of human government and authority, and why it was established. 

1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.
5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.
6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

Government has the God-assigned responsibility to punish those who do evil.Note that this passage was repugnant to Rome. It made government the servant of God. Government is always “under God.”

Politics is important; political decisions have consequences; and passionately arguing for your preferred political outcomes is nothing to be ashamed of.

A politicized life is a different beast, however. It treats politics as a zero-sum game or a form of total warfare in which the other side must be obliterated. It alters every aspect of your being: where you shop; what you watch on TV; what sort of music you listen to; who you associate with. If you’re not with the politicized being, you’re against him — and if you’re against him, he is well within his rights to ruin you personally and economically. You, the political other, are a leper to be shunned. (see Politicized Life below) 

Such politicization destroys freedom. Through various social legislation, the West has all but destroyed the family, which is the basic building block of society. We ought to realize what government is supposed to do and hold it within the boundaries set by God. We can vote.


Jesus upheld government authority in his ministry

Matthew 22:15-21 is the classic text where Jesus commands obedience to authority. However, he qualifies it. 

15 Then the Pharisees went and plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk.
17 Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” 

18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites? 19 Show Me the tax money.” 

So they brought Him a denarius. 20 And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

21 They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and [render] to God the things that are God’s.” 

Jesus escapes the trap, and they are told to pay their taxes. 

The Apostles refuse to obey officials in certain cases 

Acts 5:26-29 is where the Bible draws the line on wrongful government intrusion into our lives. 

27 …And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in [Jesus’] name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” 

29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men!” 

Verse 29 make it clear we obey higher authority, God’s, when a lesser authority commands something against God’s law and teaching. 


Babylon becomes the symbol of government against religion
(see Revelation 13 and 17-18)

We have to suffer the consequences for not obeying civil government, though. We leave the consequences to God in such cases. 

The material point is that Christians always obey their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. We are not lawless and rebellious. Government is another authority structure that is a part of the necessary underpinnings f our freedom.


Epoch Times. (2018). Accessed 2 November 2018 from https://www.theepochtimes.com/the-dark-origins-of-communism-part-2-of-3_2251602.html

Politicized Life. (2013). Accessed 2 November 2018 from https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/03/why-everything-is-politicized-even-though-most-americans-hate-it/274359/

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved


Children Learn about Biblical Authority in the Home

“You are…my disciples…” John 8:32

We are looking at the observance of Biblical authority structures as an important underpinning of biblical freedom. In an earlier post we saw Colossians 1:13-14 

13 He [God] has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (see NKJV below)


In these verses we are reminded that we are never out from under someone’s authority in this world. We are under the dominion of darkness until Jesus Christ buys us from that slavery and places us into his kingdom of His Beloved Son! 

The moral law of God is the ethical norm for life in the kingdom.

In the Ten Commandments we have the injunction: Exodus 20

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Ephesians 6 underscores this basic commandment—

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment with promise: 3 “that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”

family at devotions

Family prayers were part of our past.

Paul adds that this is the first commandment with a promise attached to it. The Reformation Study Bible adds this information about law—

The law of God has lost its power to condemn those who are in Christ (Col. 2:13, 14), and the observance of the ceremonial law is inappropriate following their fulfillment in Christ (2:15; Col. 2:16, 17). However the “weightier matters of the law” (Matt. 23:23) are revelations of God’s character, and establish permanent ethical principles. One of these is that children must honor their parents. (see RSB below)

The Reformation Study Bible points out the 5th Commandment is a part of the moral law of God that is underscored by Jesus and the Epistles in the New Testament. The moral law is not a part of the law that passed away with the nation of Israel.

The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches the full implication of the 5th Commandment—

Q 64: What is required in the fifth commandment?
A: The fifth commandment requires the preserving the honor, and performing the duties, belonging to every one in their several places and relations, as superiors, inferiors, or equals. (See Shorter Catechism below)

The family is the basic building block of a society.

James Fisher expands on this question by adding—

Q. 1. “Who are meant by father and mother in the Fifth Commandment?”
A. “Not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.” (see Fisher below)

How are people superior or inferior in a modern nation? Doesn’t our Declaration of Independence state all are equal? Yes. But all are not equally talented or gifted by God.


Abraham Kuyper (pictured left) states this God-imposed inequality clearly—

Hence we cannot recognize any distinction among men, save such as has been imposed by God Himself, in that He gave one authority over the other, or enriched one with more talents than the other, in order that the man of more talents should serve the man with less, and in him serve his God. (see Kuyper below)

We cannot be anything we want to be, contrary to current educational psychology. God has distributed gifts and talents according to his good pleasure. I used to tell my students, “I might want to be a brain surgeon, but that is not possible for a man 60+ years old.” The limitations are God-imposed. 

This explains the far reaching implications of the family in society. Children learn order from observing it in their family. 

Why does God want us to honor our parents? The family is the basic building block or unit of society, [and] thus the stability of the community depends on the stability of the families that comprise it. A person’s response to government derives from the parent-child relationship. The lessons and principles learned from honoring, respecting, and obeying parents will result in a society stable enough to promote development of the whole person. (see Bible Tools below)

Where to go from here

Many may look back at their flawed birth family and think, “How could anything like that be a good building block?” Or, some may look at their own family now and see too many problems. 

I have dealt with all problems in the family in the course of 40+ years of ministry. (I had my own, too.) Divorce is a world of hurt for all involved. It leaves scars on spouses and children. Many I have talked with want to see God meet them with healing in their relationships. I say we cannot change the past, but we can begin afresh with the relationship we are in now.

You do not have to take it on Maury or Oprah to hash out past hurts. God hears and answers prayers! When he forgives, he separates our sins from us. Micah 7:19

He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

I like what Corrie ten Boom said about this verse.

“It was 1947 … I had come from Holland to defeated Germany with the message that God forgives. It was the truth they needed most to hear in that bitter, bombed-out land, and I gave them my favorite mental picture. Maybe because the sea is never far from a Hollander’s mind, I like to think that that’s where forgiven sins are thrown. ‘When we confess our sins,’ I said, ‘God casts them into the deepest ocean, gone forever … Then God places a sign out there that says No Fishing Allowed!‘” (see Forgiveness below)

No fishing allowed

Some of us need to stop muckraking in our past sins. If God forgives, we can accept it and move on. We each need to work on the family God has given us now. That is the only hope of restoring this important building block of society and underpinning of our freedom. 


Bible Tools. Accessed October 29, 2018 from https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/5738/Family-as-Building-Block-Society.htm

Fisher, James. Accessed October 29, 2018 from https://reformed.org/master/index.html?mainframe=/documents/fisher/q063-4.html

Forgiveness: No Fishing Allowed. Accessed October 29, 2018 from https://www.christianpost.com/news/forgiveness-no-fishing-allowed-6182/

Kuyper, Abraham. Stone Lectures on Calvinism accessed October 29, 2018 from http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/kuyper/Lectures%20on%20Calvinism%20-%20Abraham%20Kuyper.pdf

Lowell, James Russell. Accessed October 29, 2018 from https://www.bartleby.com/102/128.html

New King James Version. accessed October 29, 2018 from https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+6&version=NKJV

Reformation Study Bible. Accessed October 29, 2018 from https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/reformation-study-bible/Eph.6.2

Shorter Catechism. Accessed October 29, 2018 from http://www.shortercatechism.com/resources/wsc/wsc_064.html

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Biblical Authority Structures are from God!

We have covered two underpinnings of Biblical freedom as Jesus taught it.

I. Freedom Is Not Total Autonomy. “…hold to my teaching…” John 8:31

II. Freedom Requires Virtue as Its Guiding Principle. “You shall know the truth…” John 8:32


Giotto de Bondoni, “Marriage at Cana,” ca. 1267-1337

Now we shift to a third underpinning—

III. Freedom Requires Obedience to Divine Authority Structures.

“You are…my disciples…” John 8:32

The meaning of a disciple literally translates into “a learner” … it denotes “one who follows someone’s teaching” …. In biblical terms, a “disciple” is a believer who follows Christ’s teachings and pursues His example. (see Disciple below)

Jesus’s word touches on all of life. He affirms marriage and the family as a creation ordinance. He also enjoins our obedience to government as God’s agent of order. Disciples follow Jesus’s teachings. 

Before human government and before children, God established marriage. 

He laid the foundation for all other structures of society in the family. In post-modern philosophy, the aggregate individual is the basic building block of society. However, this flies in the face of what God teaches in the Old Testament.


Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by Wenzel Peter, Vatican Museum

Genesis 2:24—

Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

The “one flesh” principle lies at the crux of the family. Old ties are broken as a man and a woman begin their lives together in holy matrimony.

“Shall leave his/her father and mother” is the first step. No longer is a man primarily a son. No longer is a woman primarily a daughter. The primary relationship is that of husband and wife. We are not free to make marriage a personal arrangement! It is a creation ordinance given by God in Eden.

Dr. R. C. Sproul observes on one occasion—

Some years ago, I attended an interesting wedding. I was especially struck by the creativity of the ceremony. The bride and the groom had brainstormed with the pastor in order to insert new and exciting elements into the service, and I enjoyed those elements. However, in the middle of the ceremony, they included portions of the traditional, classic wedding ceremony. When I began to hear the words from the traditional ceremony, my attention perked up and I was moved. I remember thinking, “There is no way to improve on this because the words are so beautiful and meaningful.” A great deal of thought and care had been put into those old, familiar words. (https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/basis-christian-marriage/)


Clergyman, pictured above, placing his stole around the clasped hands of a married couple to stress the bond is permanent.

Jesus reiterates the seriousness of marriage as God has created it in Matthew 19:4-6

4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

“Shall…be joined to his wife” is the second step. There is no set marriage ceremony outlined in the Holy Scriptures. Yet, Jesus honored marriage with his first miracle at Cana of Galilee. 

The last principle related to marriage is “What God has joined together, let no one separate.” 

I have served in ministry for 40 plus years. I preached regularly long before that. I have often seen marriage partners separated from one another by parents, friends, and competing “potential partners.” Under any guise, the one who violates the “one-flesh” principle strives against God himself.

I always emphasize in a marriage ceremony that marriage is a covenant, not between a man and a woman and the state, but between a man and a woman and God. Anything that attacks the family as God has constituted it, destroys society along with it.We can’t change others, but we can still live by the Word of God in our own lives.


Disciple. Accessed November 2, 2018 from https://missionventureministries.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/what-does-it-mean-to-be-jesus-disciple-john-831/

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved


Consciously Remembering the Lord is the Way Back


“…abide in my word.”  John 8:31

Remembering and Forgetting

Deuteronomy 8 has sobering words for nations and for individuals. God warned his ancient people —

11 Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when … your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God.

Our problem is just what Deuteronomy warns about — prosperity without God is perilous. 

The Hebrew word for “forget” is shaw-kach. (It isn’t significant that we remember the Hebrew word, but we must note its meaning in Hebrew, rather than in English.) In English “we forget” something when it “slips our mind,” as we put it. It is an accidental thing. In Hebrew, forgetting is a conscious act. A good translation would be “cease to care about.” (see “Reformation Study Bible” below) “When we cease to care about the Lord our God… .”

On the other hand, “remembering” in Hebrew is also a conscious act. The word is zakar — Zachariah means “Yahweh remembers!” Conscious remembering is the spiritual treatment for a return to God. 

Men have Forgotten God

In his still timely words (spoken about the Soviet Union at the time) upon receiving the Templeton Prize for progress in religion, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, puts his finger exactly on the problem facing us in the West today:

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia:

“Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: “Men have forgotten God.” The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century (See “Solzhenitsyn” below; emphasis mine).

Chaos, not freedom, comes in every sphere of life to the society which forgets God. We cannot act to roll back the clock. However, we can as individuals still live a Biblical lifestyle. We can purposefully remember God, as we navigate life. We won’t win any popularity contests, but we will magnify God before the eyes of the world.


The Act of Remembering and the Way Back

When I was a teenager I walked away from God for a while. I began to run with the wrong crowd from my church. (Yes, there are rebels in the church, too.) The drinking age was 18 then. I over-indulged in alcohol for the first time with them.

One Sunday, my pastor stopped me in the hall of the Sunday School building. He said words I’ll never forget.

“Rick, when you first came to this church, you paid attention to the sermon. You brought your Bible and took notes. Now you do neither. Just remember, Jesus didn’t leave you. You left him, and he is right where you left him. You can go back and walk with him again.”

He was encouraging me to remember my Lord Jesus and to forsake my forgetting of Him. I came back and found the grace of God to be plentiful toward prodigal children.

We can’t change society against its will, but we can nudge individuals in the right direction by reminding them what they have left behind and the grace-filled way back. Eventually, enough individuals remembering the Lord can change society! 


Solzhenitsyn, Alexandr. (1985). “The Templeton Address: Men Have Forgotten God.” Accessed 28 August 2018 from http://orthochristian.com/47643.html

Reformation Study Bible. (2018). Accessed 28 August 2018 from https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/reformation-study-bible/toc/

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved