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Freedom from Man

By R. J. Rushdoony
June 29, 2015

Tyranny is man’s rule without God, and it is obviously very popular because it is so common. Men may complain about it, but they obviously prefer it to its alternatives. Rule without God is preferred by many because they find God’s government to be too obtrusive. This is an article of faith with them because, as sinners, God’s government makes them fearful of discovery and judgment. More than once I have seen immoral priests and pastors well regarded by their parishioners, who feel then easier in their own sins. They will turn on their church leader only when his exposure embarrasses them.

If freedom were as much loved as men profess to love it, we would see much more of it in history. Men find it convenient to honor things they do not want because the claim to virtue is easier than the practice of it. Pretense is a basic characteristic of fallen man.

What God’s law offers is freedom from man. Man’s law has always been one expanding claim to power over man. God’s law, however, requires virtue, whereas man’s law simply calls for moral behavior. In fact, Leviticus 20:7-8 says plainly:

7. Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.

8. And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you.

However, for some strange reason too many scholars, theologians, and pastors go, not to the Bible, but to one or another confessional standard when they discuss the law. As a result, they too often say nothing about God’s purpose with the law: holiness.

What churchmen fail to see, the ungodly clearly recognize. God’s law requires holiness whereas man’s law requires conformity. Throughout history, man’s law has at times legislated against adultery, as does God’s law, but with a difference. Adultery can be viewed as an offense against the husband or wife, against the state, or against God. God’s law is theocentric, not man-centered. It is therefore a matter of holiness.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus condemns lusting after another woman as committing adultery with her in one’s heart (Matt. 5:27-28). In statist law, adultery may or may not be a legal offense, but certainly lusting in one’s heart is not. This is because the Biblical premise of the law is that sin is basic to lawlessness, whereas no such idea undergirds statist law. The goal of God’s law is that it can be written in our hearts and become our new nature (Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 36:25-29). The goal of God’s law is in man’s regeneration, whereas statist law aims simply to conformity.

Holiness means a separation and a consecration to God. We are summoned to become holy because God is holy. This holiness is gained by a separation to God and by an obedience to His law.

In this light, the law has a radically different meaning. The law is God’s law, and it must be applied to all spheres of life. Whether in church, state, family, or any other sphere of life, holiness is gained as we separate ourselves to God by His law.

There is freedom under God because we know the limits He Himself has set: His law is unchanging and His law does not encroach on us because its limits are fixed. Man’s law, and statist law, have no limits. The next session of any legislative body will increase the number of laws.

The early “legislative” bodies of America were know by such names as the General Court (Massachusetts), or, the House of Burgesses (Virginia). Their purpose was to serve as a check on the royal governor’s power and to set limits on the extent of governmental power. Only in time did they become legislative bodies. As they have grown, so too have their monetary appetites. God is content with at best 613 laws. Statist bodies pass more laws in any given session, perhaps. God is content with a tithe, but the state now, in the U.S., takes half a person’s income on the average.

It should be clear that our need is for freedom from man and the state. Here is the great slavery of our time, masking itself as liberation. The state that abandons God will also steadily abandon all restraints on its power. Tyranny is then the result.

Men who rule without God and His law are tyrants because they rule without restraints. God’s law is a restraint upon man. It also tells us about God’s restraining hand, how He allows to man the freedom to sin, the freedom to learn, and the freedom to fail. Men cannot regenerate either themselves or others, and they therefore substitute coercion for rebirth. As a result, the new order they envisage is logically a slave state because they have no power to conform men to their goals in any other way

Taken from The Institutes of Biblical Law, Volume 3, The Intent of the Law, p. 169.


Topics: American History, Dominion, Gospels, The, Government, Justice, Statism, Theology, World History

R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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