Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What Is Freedom?

I am deeply grateful to be a citizen of a free country. Freedom comes at a dear price and I can't express enough gratitude to the thousands who have given their lives in defense of it. The fight for freedom started long ago. A very long time ago.

The fight began in the premortal life when one we know as Lucifer, a son of the morning, first sought to "destroy the agency of man" (Moses 4:3). A civil war broke out—a war of words. It didn't end when Michael and his angels cast out Satan "into the earth." The war continues here today.

Not everyone remembers the war but John the Beloved saw it in vision:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (Revelation 12:7–10, bold mine.)
Michael is Adam (see D&C 107:54), the first man, the head of the human family, whom God "set at the head" (see D&C 107:55). Who are Michael's angels, the ones who fought against the devil and his followers? I believe it was us. We were there among them. We are the refugees.

How did we overcome Satan, the accuser, the traitor? By (1) our faith in the redeeming blood of the Lamb of God, (2) by the word of our testimonies, and (3) our willingness to give our lives in the cause. It was a desperate fight for freedom.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:11, bold mine.)
We are still engaged in the conflict, with our words, our testimonies, and our faith in Christ.

Agency is the foundation of freedom. God gave man agency in the garden of Eden (see Moses 3:16–17; 7:32). We also had agency in the premortal life (Alma 13:3–4). Without agency, we cannot be free. Without it, we have nothing.

Some see freedom as the absence of restraint but true freedom embraces restraint. Freedom has boundaries. When we honor the boundaries that protect human life and dignity, we honor God and our fellow beings. The more we honor and obey Him and respect others, the more free we become.

God honors boundaries. Satan does not. God himself, it appears, is obedient to principle and limits. He knows true freedom. Satan casts aside all principle and limits in pursuit of his evil aims and therefore he is the father of misery and bondage.

We are free to choose liberty or captivity.
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. (2 Nephi 2:27, bold mine)
If we are free to choose, that we are also responsible for the outcome of our choices. A great delusion in this world is that freedom of choice includes freedom from consequences.

If we twist and mangle the truth, and attempt to recreate it in our own image, we only create an idol in the image of self and of the world. If we attempt to create a world around those choices, we will depart from the truth and from true freedom.

We cannot defeat the truth. If we try, we will only defeat ourselves.

I am grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ. He is the way, the truth, and the life (see John 14:6). We can't find true, lasting freedom in any other way or in any other name (see Acts 4:12).

I "stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made [me] free, and [hope never to be] entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).

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