Benjamin Franklin warned, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” In other words, as virtue declines, so does freedom. Mr. Franklin’s postulations are certainly being born out today when we see the lawless and destructive behavior of many, of whom many are youths. Virtue – behavior showing high moral standards — is in fast decline. The desire for freedom, however, is not in decline.
Christ addressed freedom, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’”, (John 8:31-32). The freedom that people so much desire is founded in truth. So, truth then is pivotal to freedom.
How then is truth defined? King David wrote, “You are near, O Lord, and all Your commandments are truth. Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them forever” (Psalm 119:151-152). God’s laws, which are from eternity, are truth. They define moral right and wrong, which is the virtue necessary for maintaining freedom.
History points to a time when a generation became incapable of freedom. Israel had served God in Joshua’s time and a little beyond, through the days of his generation who outlived him. “When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). When that generation lost contact with God, they lost contact with any sense of moral right and wrong.
The same pattern is being repeated today. And unless there were to be a national repentance, we can expect to have new masters just as Mr. Franklin warned and just as Israel received. “And the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel. So He delivered them into the hands of plunderers who despoiled them; and He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, so that they could no longer stand before their enemies” (Judges 2:14). The new masters in Israel were plunderers who rifled their houses and stole from them their goods and substance. It is not hard for us correlate that to our day, is it? Being sold out to our enemies so that we can no longer withstand them is a process in progress at the present time as well.
The moral of the story is to live virtuous lives fervently in the spiritual freedom we now have through Christ!