Thursday, October 09, 2008

FREEDOM: YOU ARE NOT POWERLESS

The Bible says we can choose to be free and choose not to be enslaved. "Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that" (1 Cor. 7:21). God loves the whole world and desires that all be saved. He is not a respector or persons and invites everyone to repent and be baptized to be saved. So there the power of free will to choose to accept or reject Jesus Christ. No one is completely powerless. But when God says we have a choice to think and to be free, why do some choose to accept a notion that people are powerless to change?

A group that will remain anonymous encourages people to admit that they are powerless over their addictions. I have to admit that sometimes I feel powerless too, but I cannot agree with the idea that humans are completely powerless. An addict gave up his power to the drug to the point that he is no longer in control. This weakened state occured only after a series of poor choices leading to the addiction. But even though the person loses a degree of their power once they are taken over by their addiction, they are not completely powerless. The addict is still making choices to chase what he finds to be most pleasurable.

One web-site deals with coping and has an article on how to deal with "control issues and accepting powerlessness." While there are points in the article which I agree with, I find that the article overstates the degree of powerlessness that we have. Their argument is the non-sequitur (the conclusion does not follow their premise) that because only God is all-powerful, we must admit that we are powerless. The argument, thought faulty, has become a crutch for many who simply don't want to take responsibility for their actions.

First off, the article says to deny your complete powerlessness is indicative of irrational thinking. They go on to say that when a person believes, "You must be able to have control over everything in your life" (emphasis added), you deny your powerlessness. The problem I find here is that the "accept your powerlessness" position is never proven. They appeal to my power to admit my powerlessness. It goes right over their heads that if I am not claiming omnipotence if I claim to have some say over my life. I can choose not to take that first smoke. I can choose to read what is enlightening. I have the power to choose freedom over slavery. I make a choice to be enslaved. I have the power to put less on my plate. The truth is not that people are completely powerless, but instead that they use their power to be enslaved. The people of Israel, when freed, were verbalizing to Moses and God their desire to return to Egyptian bondage. They were choosing a loaf of bread over freedom. They were choosing it for the ease associated with it, but they would also later discover the pain associated with it. Because we have power over some things in our lives, it's foolish to say that we are completely powerless. It is not wise to admit what the article is saying we ought to admit. And what I'm saying takes nothing away from the reality that God is the omnipotent, sovereign of the universe.

I can admit the truth about God without believing that I have no power at all.

It is certainly not realistic to think that I can control everything, but with the good sense God has given to me, I can control some things in my life. I think the powerlessness argument could turn into a crutch where people, by their power, make really bad choices. Once the consequences are felt, they claim to have been powerless, victims of things beyond their power. And if a society accepts that it is powerless, it might more easily succumb to the powerful who seek to dominate and enslave them.

Here is an opportunity to test your power. If you are sinning, repent and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped away (Acts 3:19). God is calling for you to do the turning. You are not powerless. If you are thinking an unchristian thought, stop and think on something good (Philippians 4:8). If you are thinking of something you should do, do it. God says, "To him who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin" (Jas. 4:17). If you have not prayed to God today, then do it now. The Bible says, "Seek Him while He may be found." You have the power to seek God today, so do not delay. It is not helpful or beneficial to deny too much. There is plenty of Biblical evidence to show that you are not completely powerless. Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13). There is the attitude of faith we seek. To admit that you have the power that God has granted to each person is realistic. Because you are not all powerful and omnipotent does not mean you have no power.
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1. Accessed here

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