To Live Freely: Part Sixteen

I’ve spent the last few weeks talking about the truth, and how our souls are designed to live in harmony with it. This exercise has been helpful for me to mull over my inner thoughts and feelings, bringing them into fuller, rational definition. I have explored, I have discovered, and I have gathered into one place. The only things I haven’t done is sort and refine. It might be worth it to take my raw discoveries and organize and develop them. I will begin that process by giving a summary and categorization of my study thus far. Any further work beyond that would probably be better taken offline.

For today I am going to step through all of my past posts, summarizing the key takeaways for each one. Then, starting tomorrow, I will give my overall conclusion on the matter.


I began this study by establishing my thesis: that only a life founded upon the truth was truly joyful and free. I began by considering which of all the people I know live in the truth most consistently. The group I settled on was addicts in recovery, and I noted the surprisingly joyful and meaningful lives that they lead.

Next I considered the importance of truth in other aspects of the world. First I looked at the physical truths necessary in aviation, and then the dangers of untruth in propositional logic. There may not be an obvious connection between these realms and that of our own personal behavior, at least not from our limited, mortal perspective, but the fact that truth is clearly essential in these other domains gives a strong suggestion that it would also be so in matters of self-governance.

I then moved on to arguing against putting untrue perspectives on other people. I said that it harmed them by separating them from reality and inadvertently reinforcing harmful messages. I explained that this complicated and frustrated individuals’ efforts to secure the basic good things that we all desire in life. I also pointed out that we put this harm on others due to incredible personal arrogance, and that the logic of deluding one another becomes untenable when scaled globally. I concluded that if it is demonstrably wrong to deceive others and cause them to live separately from the truth, then surely it is wrong for us to choose to live separate from the truth ourselves also.

Of course, it isn’t the case that we always know exactly how we’re deluding ourselves, though. I explained that we often need the help of another to see ourselves clearly, and that we block ourselves from the truth because we aren’t prepared to deal with it. Thus, even if we decide to live in the truth, it will take some special revelation to know what the requisite changes we then need to make are.

I also pointed out that even if we do recognize what our failings are, we might try to dismiss and minimize them, admitting what is true with our words, but hoping to get ahead through a little deception on the side. We have to learn to bring all of us into alignment with the truth, or our practice is only theoretical and basically useless.

I then related my own experiences with living in varying degrees of truthfulness. I described states of being oblivious to my falsehoods, and also of striving against them, and finally of periods of joyful congruity between with the truth. From my own experiences I sincerely believe that all of us can come to live in harmony with the truth, even while acknowledging that first we all struggle with being hypocrites and liars, myself included.

Finally, at one point I explained our need for an external truth. I made the case that we need the truth to be defined objectively and separately from any one person. It is essential that it is dictated by God, Himself, and given to us through divine words. This is the one truth that all of us must seek alignment to, and anything else that claims to be the truth is a counterfeit, and will not produce the full joy and freedom that we might otherwise have.

That is everything that I have explored thus far, tomorrow I will give the first half my final conclusion on the matter.

To Live Freely: Part One

Axiomatic Truth)

There is a concept that has come up a few times in my previous series, including the last one. I have spoken to the matter in brief here and there, but now I want to consider it more fully. The concept is that living in the truth is the foundation for a full and happy life. Said another way, facing the facts as they really are is the only way to be truly free. Said a third way, only those who are willing to face the truth unflinchingly are ever truly alive.

This is a principle that is basic and fundamental to life. It is so foundational that sometimes it is difficult to really get a grasp on it. Axiomatic truths are, by definition, self-evident in their truthfulness, requiring no argument to prove them. That’s all well and good, but it means that if you then try to explain why an axiom is true you’re going to have a very hard time of it! Explanations tend to lead to circular logic, such as “living in truth is the foundation for a full life because…it just is!”

One way to come to full appreciation of these fundamental truths is to look at them in reverse. Fundamental truths are prerequisites for many other things in life, and by examining those things that are built upon foundational truth we obtain evidence that the underlying axiom really is true, for if it were not the things that we have observed could not be. We find that the fundamental truth is necessarily true, because it is necessary for it to be true for other observable things to be so.

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.... Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. -Matthew 7:17-18, 20

Jesus describes the same idea in these verses where he teaches that we may recognize that which was good by whether it brought about good or not. So if we want to know whether “a life founded upon the truth is joyful and free” is a true statement or not, then we merely have to look at those who live in harmony with this belief and see what sort of life they possess. I will begin my series today by doing exactly this. I will look at an example of people who are built upon this axiom, living their lives with the assumption that it is absolutely true. We may observe the reality of their lives, and infer whether they built upon a solid foundation or not.

The Happiest of People)

I have mentioned before how the addiction-recovery groups I have attended are singularly focused on living in harmony with truth. Any addict working a twelve-step program can tell you that one of its most fundamental tenets is that we take a fearless inventory of our lives, facing all of the unpleasant and difficult truths in our character. Where most people attempt to cherry-pick their best qualities and define themselves by those, addicts in recovery open the door to all of their qualities. We do not care if the description of us is pleasant, only that it is true.

And what comes about by this strict adherence to seeing things as they really are? For an answer, let me offer an anecdote that occurred to me personally. I was speaking with an ecclesiastical leader about my efforts to overcome my addictions, and my time spent in my recovery group. As soon as he heard that I was part of a twelve-step program he said to me, “you know, I’ve never been a part of such a program, but I have been a witness to its meetings and its members, and those are the most humble, most sincere people I have ever met.”

The reason why the twelve-step program has grown at such incredible rates since its inception is entirely due to the quality of the men and women one meets when they walk through the door. People see men and women who have not only gained freedom from the most terrible of vices, but who also live with a clearness and a joyfulness that simply isn’t to be found anywhere else. Furthermore, the fact that that light has remained consistent throughout the decades and continues to burn brightly in every new generation of members is a testament to the fact that the happy way of life was not due to some pre-existing condition in the first AA members, but is cultured in its members from the principles that they live by. If people had not seen throughout the years that these people had uncovered a superior way of life by their principles, then no one would have stayed and joined the crew, and it would have been a long-extinct experiment.

It was the evidence of this joyful peace that also drew me into the ranks of the twelve step program. It might seem a counter-intuitive thing to say, but I quickly recognized that I had never seen a happier, more satisfied, and more productive people, than these addicts who sincerely identified their miseries and their flaws. One would have thought that bringing out those heavy truths would have crushed them, but so far as I could see those weights, once surrendered, were being taken away, so that they could live free and unfettered. They attested that one had to truly see their shackles before they could receive the key to undo them. Though I was not then converted to the notion of living my life strictly in harmony with the truth, I was persuaded enough by what I saw to give it a try. My result has been much the same as theirs.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. Even if you don’t consider yourself an addict, go and visit a few of the local meetings in your area. See for yourself what manner of men and women these are, and what sort of lives they lead. Granted, every group has its own culture and its own level of sincerity about the work, but attend a few different ones and you will quickly see that there is a clear correlation between those that genuinely face the hard truths and those that live joyful and free.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 31:54-55

54 Then Jacob offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread: and they did eat bread, and tarried all night in the mount.

55 And early in the morning Laban rose up, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them: and Laban departed, and returned unto his place.

Breaking bread together has long been seen as a symbol of peace and friendliness. Jacob did not send away Laban and his men as soon as the matter of their separation was resolved, he invited them to share a meal and spend the night. Of course, it isn’t like Jacob was inviting them to stay at a well-furnished home, they were still out in the middle of the mountains, but the intent behind the gesture is what matters. Then Laban made his farewells, and left Jacob and his entourage in peace.

This may not seem like a very significant exchange, but I am grateful that it was preserved in the Old Testament record. It shows an example of two men who do not like each other, who need to get away from each other to preserve peace, who have personal flaws and failings, but who are still able to part on amicable terms. What a wonderful example to us that even when we are hurt and must remove ourselves from others, there is a way to do so with dignity and respect. It may not be possible for everyone to be our friend, but it is possible to not make ourselves someone’s enemy.

For Our Own Good- Ruth 1:16; John 13:15, 14:15

And Ruth said, Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.

For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
If ye love me, keep my commandments.


And Ruth said, whither thou goest, I will go; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God
Ruth was not a Jew by birth, but she so loved her mother-in-law that she wished to remain with her always, and to even transform herself to be like her. Though the law of Moses had not applied to her previously in life, now she was electing to live under it.
And this is natural. Whenever we find a mentor or model that we want to be like, it is an obvious step to start mirroring their behaviors. If they became the way that they are by following certain practices, then it stands to reason that adopting those practices might cultivate some of their personality traits in us as well.

For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you
If ye love me, keep my commandments

Jesus, in fact, encouraged this sort of emulation, indeed his whole gospel is hinged around it. When he set his example, he did it deliberately. He behaved the way that he did for the express purpose that others could learn from it and follow suit. This is an incredible thing. Most of us set our example thoughtlessly, and may or may not actually advocate for each practice that we demonstrate. “Do as I say, not as I do.”
For that reason, we should take great caution in whose light we choose to follow. But when we do find a worthy source, when we do have a clear outline of what practices have made them what they are, when we are certain that these principles will also make us into the sort of person we want to be…then we have truly found a pearl of great price, and it is worth giving up all our old practices to receive it.

Worthy Vessels- John 5:19, 1 John 4:19

Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

We love him, because he first loved us.


The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do
Each one of us has seen others doing good, and even been the recipients of that good. And having experienced this, naturally we desire to do good things to others, and we try to follow the pattern of those that showed us the example.
But those that did the good things to us were themselves only following the example of others who previously did good to them, and so on and so on. Each of these paths of goodness ultimately leads to the same singular source. As Jesus taught, even he only followed the example of his father. His proclamation is total: the son can do nothing of himself. He does not say that the Father taught one virtue and that then he, Jesus, riffed his own new ones off of it, he claims that any good act done on earth first had its template written in heaven.

We love him, because he first loved us
I have seen the truth of that in my own life. For many years I was fully capable of fearing God, but I couldn’t sincerely love Him until I felt His own love bursting into my soul. I had wanted to love Him, but I had to have Him teach me how. As Graham Cooke so eloquently put it: God loves us first, and then He allows us to love Him back with that love.

Graham Cooke’s message starts at 1:15, quote comes from 4:35

Active Discipleship- 2 Timothy 1:7, John 14:12

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.


For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind
He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these
When I read the scriptures as a boy, I liked to picture myself in the shoes of Daniel, Gideon, and Joseph. These were stories of heroes, stories of people doing remarkable things in difficult situations, stories of valiant hearts that rose to the occasion, that knew their calling, and then lived it boldly. I loved these stories, and I always felt that they represented exactly the life that God wanted for me as well!
There is an important theme to each one of these stories, the very thing that made them so exciting to read. In all the scriptures, all of the heroes are examples of people that lived active lifestyles. These stories only exist because the men and women in them were not sitting around, living passive lives. We will never be like the fearless warrior David so long as we shy away from our struggles. We will never be like the great pioneer Moses so long as we turn down the ventures God offers us. We will never be like the great re-builder Zechariah so long as we refuse to make restitution for the things we have broken.
God always intended that we would feel the scripture heroes alive within us. He wanted for us to read their stories, be inspired by them, and become heroes just like them. But it will never happen so long as we remain sedentary on the sofa.

Service to Others- Matthew 5:42-46

Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?


For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?
Yesterday we observed how giving charitably is to give unfairly, or in an unbalanced way. It is giving where it is not deserved. And yet God is a fair God, and so if we give excessively, then justice must demand that we receive excessively in return. Thus by giving charitably you have simultaneously blessed the life of another and also tipped the balances in your favor. Everyone is lifted together.

That ye may be the children of your Father
God is the freest being we can conceive of, a personage entirely able to do as He pleases. His intention is for us to be as free as He is. The way of the world, is not this freedom. As mentioned yesterday, the way of the world is a pattern of choosing selfishly, followed by a predictable retaliation from another, followed by a predictable counter-retaliation, and so on forever. Thus begins a dance whose steps have been chosen for you. There is no freedom in this.
The only way to be an actor, and not one that is acted upon, is to do something entirely unnatural and unpredictable…like loving an enemy. One must receive a wound, be entirely justified in retaliating, and instead say “no, I’ll just take it.” It is the only way to liberation.

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you
One is not only made free in this manner, they are also made the most empowered. If you can only love those that love you, then they have the power to make you love them or not. They can steer your behavior by their influence. Even if they were to steer you into a rage that destroyed them, they still steered you. But if you do one of these unnatural acts of freely giving and freely forgiving, then who is in charge of your actions but yourself? To act by no other compulsion than your own, even if it is to act in subservience of another, is to be a true master.