In our last two posts on rights, I set out to discover two things. First, I wanted to know what it means to have rights. I gave “rights” a definition to help understand what I was talking about. I wrote
Rights then are the things that we should be able to do or enjoy simply because we were born. Nothing that has to be earned but the freedom to earn. Nothing that has to be learned, but the freedom to learn. This does not include certain things.
Then I discussed from where these rights have come. I said that all men and women have these rights as a consequence of being born. These rights were given to us by God the Creator, before and after the fall. God also reiterated these rights through the redemption in the New Testament. I wrote
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Our rights have been given us by God, for the purpose of revealing the King, our Lord Jesus Christ.
I will now begin to look at the consequences of this truth. Namely, that we are given liberty through Christ but not licentiousness. God, having made man in His Image gave him the freedom to act in accordance with God’s nature. So then, when we discuss rights, we are discussing the freedom to live for God’s glory.
People live for God’s glory by exercising their rights. What I mean is this. If we have property, then in accordance with God’s nature, we seek its care and beautification. When those who are in our care and authority are endangered, we defend them. When we are in need, we work and create. This we have a right to do because God has given us the liberty to fulfill these desires.
There is a limit though. Even though we are created in the image of God, we are not like Him; i.e., absolutely free. We see this in the giving of restrictions on Adam in the garden (Gen. 2:15-17). This limitation is also clear in the pre-Mosaic judgments and the Mosaic Law. In this, we learn that though God is absolutely free and has the right to do all His will, His nature restricts His actions and those of His creation.
Therefore, if a person desires to take actions that are inconsistent with the nature of God and His revelation to us, then that person is not dealing with rights, but sin. When we see that God is not a murderer, we see why we should not murder. As a consequence of the fall, man will find times when his desires will be at odds with God’s character. In these times, if he is to live according to the creation, he must defer to Him, who created us. Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.
The only conclusion we can come to when looking at the fact given us in Scripture is that we are never given the right to sin. We must not rest ourselves in what we think is right or good but rest in the knowledge and understanding of God. It is God who created us and, therefore, He knows what is best for us.
Tomorrow we will continue to look at the consequences of these truths.