Dear Friend in Christ:
Give me liberty … Or? I pray you are well. As I write to you this month, there are some very serious matters I want to prayerfully address in the hopes that together we can find God’s wisdom and courage to face what lies ahead. My desire and prayer are that we better understand liberty and what it costs to have it.
When early American statesman Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death,” he was not speaking hypothetically. He and our nation’s founders really did face death. His statement reveals the value they placed on liberty.
Recently, Russian dictator Putin’s army invaded Ukraine, and many Ukrainians are making the same choice that Patrick Henry made. Putin is attempting to restore the former Soviet Union and to subjugate its former territories under his domination. This invasion will not end well. No one knows now the cost that the world will face. Words fail me in trying to describe my thoughts regarding Putin’s action and the potential devastation. Destruction and loss of life are already catastrophic and heartbreaking.
The Ultimate Enemy
My reason for writing this letter is not political, though politics certainly are involved in this crisis. Nor is my primary concern economics, though the cost of the conflict will be very high to everyone. My purpose is to go much deeper into the forces involved and the spiritual naivety that enables the ultimate enemy.
Jesus said that “while men slept, the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat” (see Matthew 13:25-30). It is clear that too many have slept for too long. When people drift away from God into their own self-interest, they also drift into a spiritual slumber and naivete. That is why great revivals are called “awakenings” … they wake up people. So, I hope to get to the heart of the issue before us.
I remember WWII. As a boy, I huddled beside my mother listening to the radio with its small illuminated dial in the darkened apartment as sirens screamed, street lights off, and fear spread across the city of New Orleans where we lived. Dad was away in ministry. I remember the rationing of food and supplies, the darkened headlights on cars, the scarcity of gas, tires, and other necessities.
World War II began with naïve leaders thinking that they could negotiate with tyrants like Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo. It was almost too late. General Douglas MacArthur said, “The saddest words are “too late.” Finally, leaders such as MacArthur,Patton, and Churchill stood up in the face of death and won the victory. Now it is Ukrainian citizens who are literally saying, “Give us liberty or give us death,” as we face a new breed of tyranny in Russia and China. In WWII, 80 million lives were lost and countless others wounded and devastated. But now we live in the “Nuclear Age.” What might that mean?
Almost all of us would say that war is evil, but once evil reveals itself and finally attacks, it is very late and extremely costly! Naivete and timidity have paved the road to hell. Given that this has all played out before, how do we get to this point once again? That is what I want to discuss.
Let’s look at three words: tyranny, liberty, and freedom. Tyranny is top-down, cruel, and oppressive rule by one person who has total control; absolute power. Tyranny functions as the tool of one’s quest for power without regard for the general welfare of the people. Tyrants see people as tools.
Liberty is freedom within moral constraints. Liberty is freedom that regards the freedom of others. Liberty is birthed in self restraint and self-control. Patrick Henry did not say, “Give me freedom or give me death.” He said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” He and other founders understood that without moral standards and restraints, freedom would be lost. We call that “civilization.” Civilization functions in civility, honor, and respect for others. When society loses its laws and its moral restraints, it ceases to be civilized.
Freedom can be good or evil, depending on the responsibility of those who are free. When the Bible speaks of freedom, it is speaking about that from which we have been set free (see Isaiah 61:1-4; John 8:36; Galatians 5:1; John 3:16; John 8:32; Romans 8:2; 1 Peter 5:2; 1 Peter 2:16; 2 Timothy 2:25-26; Galatians 5:13; 2 Corinthians 3:17). Spiritual freedom in Christ is to be set free from the tyranny of evil of all kinds, so that we can serve Jesus in the boundaries of His purpose. We could properly call that being liberated from sin into true liberty.
However, if we use freedom from something without moral constraint or selfishly, then we become slaves to self and our own passions. Ultimately, that destroys our own selves and the freedom of others. The tyranny of self-centeredness ultimately leads to self-destruction.
Satan is properly called the Destroyer (see Revelation 9:11). He is not a builder, but one who destroys. His motive is to tear down what others have built up: lives, nations, and every peace-producing system. He thrives in chaos. He often disguises his work in “causes,” but the motive is never to build but to tear down by motivating self-centered and divisive strife.
God is a builder. He built creation from “the micro to the macro,” from a grain of sand to the galaxy. From Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, He constructs. Christ builds His Church. His gifts are for edification or building up (see Ephesians 4:10-16). He builds within moral constraints.
It is critical that we understand who does what here. Satan tears down, God builds up. God’s ultimate purpose is to build a Holy people who live in a Holy City where righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit reign (see Hebrews 11:10; Romans 14:17). Satan’s ultimate purpose is to keep us from getting there and turn our cities into colonies of Hell. It often seems as though we only figure that out when cities are on fire.
Even prior to our new birth in Christ, we have a measure of freedom to choose. Adam and Eve made a choice to eat the fruit from the forbidden tree, the “Knowledge of Good and Evil.” It is amazing how the “knowledge of Good and Evil” does not prevent wrong choices. Nevertheless, God gives us that choice. He has all power, but is not a tyrant. He wants us to love and trust Him willingly so that He can bless us “with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places” (see Ephesians 1:3). God reigns by love because He is love and the Father of love. Even God respects our responsibility and freedom to choose.
Satan does not love; he is merely seductive and selfish. Could we see him as he truly is, he is the epitome of ugly and fierce, acting like a roaring, ravaging lion (see 1 Peter 5:8). Our enemy “dresses well” while plotting our destruction. So, my purpose is to “undress evil” and present it to us and others as the naked enemy that he is.
Putin is merely a tool. Hitler was merely a tool. We must not stop at the natural manifestations of evil. We must see the one who pulls the strings, the manipulator. Hitler is gone and Putin will be gone, but the real enemy, Satan—the one whose head was bruised by Jesus’ feet on the Cross—still remains. We must look beyond and behind the natural manifestation.
In Christ, by the Holy Spirit, we must find spiritual discernment so that we do not hear those sad words, “Too late.” Too late to save our children. Too late to save our community. Too late to save our nation or other nations. Too late to choose the right leaders. Discernment says, “I see you, devil. You cannot hide from the eyes of the Lord nor your destruction in the pit!” We desperately need to have our blinded eyes healed by the Lord. Secularism, socialism, communism, and other anti-Christ systems only grow in the darkness while we sleep. As has been said, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”
We have slept far too long! We need another spiritual great awakening! Perhaps it is not too late. Putin may have unintentionally done the world a great favor; he may have sparked an awakening. Ukraine may have also done us all a great favor but at a great cost! They may have reminded us once again how to stand. I admire their choice for liberty and pray for them as so many face death. May the Lord strengthen and deliver them, as well as Christians in Russia who are boldly standing against Putin’s tyranny. God, give us a spirit of courage in Your power, love, and wisdom (see 2 Timothy 1:7). Amen.
Ukraine and Beyond
Your support of CSM has helped us to help Ukrainian people in Ukraine and also those who are taking refuge in other Eastern European nations and beyond. We also continue to invest in Middle Eastern nations, as well as in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and here in North America. We are sowing into the lives of widows, orphans, and those in prisons. The Gospel of the Kingdom is being preached.
Please continue to remember us in your prayers and in your giving this month. The challenges and needs are monumental, but the opportunities for Kingdom ministry are unprecedented. Our ongoing prayer is that we might be useful to Him in His purposes among the nations.
We invite you to join us at our annual CSM Leadership Conference in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, May 10-12, 2022. Our theme is “First Love,” and our special guest speaker will be Bishop Joseph Garlington from Covenant Church of Pittsburgh. For more information and to register, please visit here or call our office: (251) 633-7900. Our deadline for securing rooms is fast approaching, so contact us today!
It will be a great joy to gather together again in person after two years of “virtual” meetings. The Abundant Life Church Worship Team will once again lead us in anointed times of praise. We look forward to seeing you there!
In the meantime, we are praying for you, and we are deeply grateful for your friendship and support. If you have any specific prayer needs, please feel free to share them with us here, and we will be honored to stand with you. In the midst of all that is happening, remember the Good News. The Lord is with us. He is our Light and our Salvation. Whom shall we fear?
Charles Simpson is an internationally-known author, Bible teacher, and pastor, serving in ministry since 1955. He is also Editor-in-Chief of One-to-One Magazine and ministers extensively throughout the United States and the nations.