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Reclaiming the Glory of Self-Government (3)

September 28th, 2009 No comments

The great reformer, Martin Luther, underscored the principle of self-government when he said, “Love God and do as you please.” In other words, the man or woman who loves the Lord and lives in joyful obedience to God’s law is free to do as they please. Liberty is not the right to do whatever I want whenever I want. That is anarchy. Biblical liberty is the ability to do that which is virtuous. Moral freedom is the tap root of the Liberty Tree.

Our founding fathers clearly understood this connection between Christianity and self-government. In his Farewell Address, September 17, 1796, George Washington observed, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” 

President John Adams agreed. He wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

James Madison, our 4th President and the chief architect of the Constitution concurred: “We have staked the whole of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

Those who are lawless and rebellious demonstrate a complete lack of self-control and must necessarily be restrained by a government outside of themselves.  I love this quote by Edmund Burke, the great British orator and statesman during the time of the Revolution. It highlights the unbreakable link between liberty and virtue. He writes,

“What is liberty without wisdom and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils: for it is folly, vice and madness, without restraint. Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

A large federal government is the sign of a lack of self-government among the people. When we are weak and lack self-control, “our passions forge our fetters.” Perhaps this explains our current predicament.

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Reclaiming the Glory of Self-Government

September 23rd, 2009 No comments

What is the alternative to having the federal government involved in every aspect of our lives? For many people, especially the youngest Americans, big, intrusive government is all that they know. For reformation to take place in our great nation, we must return to the glorious alternative both modeled and instituted by our founding fathers – namely, SELF-GOVERNMENT.

Self-government is synonymous with being self-controlled. A person who demonstrates self-control does not need external coercion to regulate his/her attitudes and actions. Reuben is an example of a man with no self-control. The Bible reveals his lack of restraint in Genesis 49:4:

But unstable and boiling over like water, you shall not excel and have the preeminence [of the firstborn], because you went to your father’s bed; you defiled it–he went to my couch!

 Because Reuben was unable to restrain his sexual desires, he eventually lost his inheritance. Because of his inability to govern himself, he had to forfeit the status and privileges which came with being the first born. 

Reuben highlights the relationship between self-government and godly leadership. Those who cannot govern themselves are not ready to exercise leadership over others (I Timothy 3:1-8).

Compare Reuben’s lack of self-control with the self-government of Joseph, who, in the midst of great pressure and temptation, demonstrated self-control (Genesis 39:7-23; 49:23-24). Because of Joseph’s ability to stand in the face of sexual temptation, he was qualified to exercise leadership over an entire nation.

So the first form of government is the government of each individual over themselves. When you and I are capable of leading ourselves, then we can be trusted by the Lord to lead others.

Ask the Lord to show you areas where you lack self-control. Begin to take dominion over yourself by bringing every thought, attitude, emotion and behavior under the Lordship of Jesus Christ!

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