Living Free in the Spirit of Christ

Free The Church

Standard of Review for Relationships

Published on: Mar 22, 2008

Standard for Review

In the last blog I recorded a podcast [editor’s note of 6/28/08: the podcasts have been deleted: the co-host quit without much explanation and I felt it best to remove them] and spoke about our sovereign freedom in Christ. The topic is difficult to understand and I want to unpack that topic again. To start, I want to borrow a basic legal principle as shared by the Team Law website.

Team Law’s: Standard for Review

  1. First understand who the parties are;
    1. Always know yourself first
    2. Discover the true nature of all other parties second
  2. Then you must understand the environmental and historical nature of the relationship; and,
  3. Only then do the actual terms of the relationship begin to have meaning and bearing on the relationship.

This Standard of Review is the criteria when considering signing a contract. But, in truth, this is the basis of all relationships. Relationships in business, friendships, marriage, and even our relationship with God. In the rest of the Team Law article the author, Eric Madsen, points out that most of the time we do not consider who we are in the relationship.

Christians, let alone all people, do not understand who we are as God has created us to be. The first part of the podcast was in trying to address this point as the basis of our freedom. I must qualify this post in one regard before I continue on with this explanation. This is a legalistic point of view. God created us to be in a loving relationship with Him and each other. Legalism tends to be self protective, whereas love is self denying. But the true exercise of self denial is knowing what that self is that is being denied. When we understand that we then are operating in the greatest freedom of all. Christ knew who He was, yet he denied His position of divinity to join us in our humanity (Phil. 2:6-8).

Our Sovereignty

Our ability to engage in any relationship, whether it is in joining a business church group, a marriage, and even to accept salvation through Jesus Christ, is founded upon our individual sovereignty. The concept of sovereignty is confused in modern thought in thinking that it applies to governments of nations. No government is sovereign. The people that formed the government is sovereign, for only people have the ability to be sovereign. In medieval thought a sovereign is the king. The medieval citizens rightly believed that the king was sovereign because his suzerainty came from God. Their error of thought is that only the king was sovereign. All people are sovereigns. So how is sovereign defined? Knowing the etymology of a word provides historical understanding of a word that under girds modern definitions. Sovereign breaks up into sove – reign, which is from super ain. “Super” means above, and “ain” means property, as in terrain. Therefore, in medieval and modern thought it is the one having authority over property.

When God made Adam, God vested into Adam the authority over the property called Eden, and by implication, the Earth. God made Adam and his descendants the sovereigns of the Earth. When Satan deceived them in the Garden, that ownership was given to him, by Adam and Eve. But God did not give it to Lucifer the angel, He gave it to Adam his created son. When God became the man Jesus of Nazareth, he paid the price on the cross to regain that sovereignty back to mankind.

Self Government

On the podcast I referred to Frederick Bastiat’s book called, “The Law.” Bastiat in simple terms explains why we have governments, and it goes back to creation.

1. All people have their lives from God, not any other person. God granted life to us all. Therefore, since God gave us this life, we all have the right to live, for it is God’s gift to us. That which God gave to us becomes ours by right of the gift. But this life that God has given us, has an accountability clause to God, to whom we must answer by ourselves. There will be no pastor defending us when we face the Judgment Seat of Christ, or no lawyer at the White Throne Judgment. Therefore, we are autonomous as individuals who are expected to exercise self control, or self government.

2. And since we have been given life by God, the right to life also means the right to sustain our lives, which means the right to property. For it is by property that we grow food, erect shelters from the weather and clothe ourselves from the elements. That means everyone has the right to live and to make a living.

3. If I have the right to live, and to own those things which sustain my life, I also have the right to defend myself from anyone who would try to remove my right to life.

4. Neither do I have the right to interfere with your life, hence the 10 Commandments. I do not have the right to take your wife and hinder your life reproduction through children, nor to steal the things you use to live by, and so forth. In law, the violation of the last 6 commandments are considered criminal acts, and are felonies.

5. If we have the right to live as individuals, then we also have the right to live collectively, hence the formation of governments. We can collectively work together to sustain our lives and we can collectively defend our lives.

Our Freedom of Choice

When we form groups we enter into relationships. Now we come back to the Standard of Review. Because we are individually accountable to God, the groups we join in relationships are our free choice. It is on the basis of our individual sovereignty that we can enter into any kind of relationship at all. No group has any authority over us without our consent. We may foolishly join a group that puts us into bondage, but we are in that group because of our consent. I realize that there are many who live in oppressive nations who would say that they were forced to stay. However, that is not God who is forcing you, but the criminal behavior of the people serving that government. It is God’s desire that you walk in true freedom, so pray for His aid.

But for many of us, we have the freedom of choice. We choose who we marry. We choose who we work for, whether for another or for one’s self. We choose who we have friendships with. We choose what congregation to join or not to join. If we know what our freedom of autonomy really is, we will also be careful about the nature and character of the parties we develop our relationships with. We will consider the true nature of those people, and the environment and history of those relationships that we participate.

Our Relationship with God

Even though everyone of us are born withe the bondage of sin, when we understand what God really wants for us, we will accept that salvation from sin, death and Satan.

Knowing the true character of God, we also know that He has proven Himself over and over again to be faithful and reliable. When one has been mislead by a business church, to whom one had followed, the natural reaction is to cut loose from all relationships, not trusting anyone else. But if you turn your eyes back upon Jesus, that author and finisher of our faith, you will find it is easier to deny self, as He did, to follow our Father’s leading into new relationships.

As I said earlier, the Standard for Review is a legalistic way of examining the nature of all relationships. Legalism is not wrong in its self. It is a tool. It is wrong when the tool is misused. The Torah as given by Moses is righteous. But it was not a tool for gaining righteousness, but for exposing sin. Hence the legalism of the Jews was an abuse of the tool. Likewise, this Standard for Review is a tool for understanding relationships. While we are in this fallen world, this tool will useful. When all sin and iniquity is purged from the Earth, there will not be this need for we will truly live in the Kingdom of Love.

But even in this fallen world, we remain autonomous and free as a gift from God. He holds us accountable to how we use this freedom. We are not in bondage to any church group or doctrine, but we are free to participate in any relation that God gives us. If we choose foolish relationships, it is we who made that choice, not God. Trusting God in His leading is the only wise choice. But we do not blindly engage in any relation even when God has led us into those relationships. We are still autonomous even with God, and He expects us to think through what we choose to do. Some will choose life, others will choose death. Choose life, and live free.

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