Each of us has a remarkable privilege of presenting ourselves before God, independent of the demands and tyranny of our peers or oppressors. Yet this wonderful privilege is attacked and attempts are made to deny us our sovereignty, at many stages in our life. This first commentary on how our sovereignty is under attack may well be expanded on in future posts, but at this point I want to simply draw your attention to the fact that there are various forces which oppose your divinely bequeathed right to personal sovereignty.
Since we are created by God and the rights we have come from God it is logical that the first enemy to any such privilege given us by God would be from the principal evil spirit, who we know as the devil. The devil is a created angel who rebelled against God and came under God’s judgement. His activities since then have been to attack those things which God has created, especially humankind.
The devil attacks our sovereignty in a number of ways. We know from the records of his influence over mankind that he seeks to prompt people to use their sovereignty in acts of rebellion against God. This results in them coming under God’s judgement instead of God’s blessing. Temptation and deception are two key strategies used by the devil.
Another strategy is to get people to hand over their personal sovereignty to the devil. Strictly speaking it is not possible to do so, but the devil has a couple of devices which work in this direction. When a person submits to some kind of inappropriate attitude or behaviour that person becomes a slave to that thing. For example, when a person gives in to anger, they become an angry person, enslaved to angry responses. When a person gives in to lust they become a lustful person, enslaved by lustful thoughts. This does not strictly take their sovereignty from them, but it imprisons their soul and seems to them as if they have lost sovereignty. If the person was to repent and cry out to God for deliverance they still have the right to do so. They may still call upon God, as a sovereign creation, and find God’s help.
The other way of getting people to hand over their personal sovereignty comes in the form of a contract with the devil. The ancient German folktale character, Faust, is a classic case of someone who made a deal with the devil. In recent times youth attending rock concerts have been encouraged to sign themselves to the devil, in their own blood. The act of making such a commitment is a major compromise of a person’s will and results in a tremendous inner sense of slavery. While the person’s personal sovereignty is, in reality, intact, the insistent claim upon them by the devil can seem irrevocable. I have heard testimony of people who have sought Christian help to break such contracts and who have become free from the tyranny of the devil’s claim.
So, temptation, deception and intimidation are typical methods of compromising personal sovereignty. While these methods are used by the devil, they are also employed by other people who wish to assert their will over others and to deny people their rightful freedom. The carrot and the stick, used by governments and other social structures to direct people’s wills, are expressions of temptation and intimidation. Propaganda, indoctrination and deception are also widely used by regimes intent on controlling the masses. Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Dr Goebbels implemented the Big Lie theory, that the bigger the lie the more likely people are to believe it.
Fear is another tool for making people give up personal sovereignty. Fear could relate to simple avoidance of rejection by others, such as social pressure to conform in order to be accepted. Or it could relate to the immediate threat of reprisal, death or torture if compliance is not given. Totalitarian regimes often resort to abductions, murders, genocide and other atrocities to instil fear and compliance in the community.
At a more personal level, there are those who seek to enslave others, including their family, employees or people in their care. Manipulation and control may involve just one subject, such as a parent manipulating their child, or a wife manipulating her husband. In such cases the manipulator seeks to turn another person into their slave, at least within certain behaviour patterns, and so resorts to various means of control to get the other to give up their sovereignty. A similar condition is that of domination, where an assertive person will project their personality over others, simply to indulge their own pride and self-centredness. The right to personal sovereignty of those around them is impacted by their domination.
In each of the cases I have outlined, our personal right to come into God’s presence and make appeal directly to Him, remains intact. We may be in physical danger if we do so, but we have not lost the divine right to do so. This is the Divine Right of Everyone! No religious or political domination, nor sin or deal with the devil, can take from us our right to cry out to God and present ourselves before Him.