Inalienable Rights

Today being July 4, we are reminded of America’s declaration of independence from Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence that was framed by the founders contains the following statement: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…” This language states that these “inalienable rights” were from God. The Bible certainly teaches this. God is the source of all life (Colossians 1.16).

The Bible also teaches that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was what God purposed for man. It was why God made us in his image and gave us commands. That God made us capable of understanding these commands is seen from what is recorded of Adam and Eve. God commanded them in regard to what was permitted and what was forbidden (Genesis 2.16-17). That this was understood is seen from Genesis 3.2-3. Life, liberty, and happiness was their so long as they obeyed God. So also was this true of the Israelites. Moses admonished them to choose life by obeying the law from Mt. Sinai: “I have placed before you today life and happiness, and death and adversity…I have placed before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life…” (Deuteronomy 30.15,19).

Clearly, life, liberty, and happiness is our choice. They are the inalienable rights God gave to us. These words from God were Israel’s life (Deuteronomy 32.47). We have a greater inalienable right from Jesus. The life God purposed to us through him is eternal. This life is also in his words, but we must choose them over all else (John 6.47,63).

God, by virtue of being the Creator of life, has the inalienable right to create and destroy. He has the right to dictate how his creation is to function. These rights are not transferable unless God so chooses to endow them to another. Whatever rights man may claim as his inalienable rights are only those God has decreed. Let us consider some of God’s inalienable rights:

Authority. Authority is inherent with God by virtue of creation. He created life and life depends upon God. Job acknowledged of man that “his days are determined, the number of his months is with thee, and thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass” (Job 14.5). Because of this, when any man or government makes declarations regarding human rights, those declarations must be in accordance with God’s utterances (1 Peter 4.16). God alone has the right to delegate and designate his authority. When he did so, he declared it in his word. When Israel became a nation, God designated Moses. The words God spoke by Moses were not to be altered (Deuteronomy 4.2). Moses’ authority was at times challenged. Korah’s rebellion was one such example (Numbers 16.3). Korah and those with him came to Moses, asserting, “Ye take too much upon you…wherefore then life ye up yourselves above the assembly of Jehovah?” God’s punishment was just and righteous because delegating authority is his inalienable right. Israel so often chose to do what was right in their own eyes (Deuteronomy 12.8; Judges 17.6; 21.25). Doing so did not bring them life, liberty, and happiness. It is only in the acceptance of God’s oracles that we have inalienable rights. God endowed Jesus with his authority while he was on earth (John 5.21; 12.49). He could forgive sin (Luke 5.24) and spoke forgiveness three times because of this right (Matthew 9.2; Luke 7.48; 23.43). After he was raised from the dead, he was then given all authority (John 17.2). Jesus then had the inalienable right to delegate authority to the apostles, which he did (John 17.6-8). Therefore all that they bound on earth through their preaching had already been bound in heaven (Matthew 16.19).

Salvation Terms. God has the right to dictate the terms of our salvation (Mark 16.16; Acts 2.38; Romans 6.17-18; Galatians 3.26-27; 1 Peter 3.20-21).

Worship. God has the right to determine how he will be worshiped (Deuteronomy 12.29-32; John 4.24). Any voluntary humility, worship of angels, or will worship are not inalienable rights (Colossians 2.18,20-23).

Vengeance. Romans 12.19 states, “Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord.” Because of this, God’s oracle to us is: “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12.21).

Judgment. Only God has the right to judge (John 5.22). Our judgments must be righteous (John 7.24).

Marriage. The marriage relationship was created for man by God. It is a God-ordained institution. Therefore, God has the right to condemn fornication and adultery: “Let marriage be had in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled: for fornicators and adulterers God will judge (Hebrews 13.4).

Adoption Through Jesus.Having foreordained us unto adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will” (Ephesians 1.5). John wrote of Jesus, “As many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John  1.12).

If therefore the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8.36). In Christ, we are not free to sin; we’ve been freed from sin (1 John 1.5-10). Let us “live as free men, yet without using your freedoms as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God” (1 Peter 2.16).