Connect with us
Advertisement

DO YOU REALLY HAVE A CHOICE – PART III

It is generally taught that Adam and Eve were spiritually perfect immediately after their creation, seeing that it says, "And God saw everything that He had made, and, behold, it was very good…" (Genesis. 1:31). Never mind the fact that even poisonous snakes were also "very good." Of course everything God made was "good."

It was, in fact, even "perfect"—perfect, that is, for the purpose for which it was created. But did our first parents have perfect and good spiritual character of heart when God completed them? Absolutely not! Far from it! They were as carnal-minded as any two people who have ever lived. I can almost see your shock. Hold on tight! The Scriptures show us that Eve committed every known category of sin there is, before she ever ate of the forbidden fruit.

This one should knock your socks off. It knocked mine off when I first discovered it. It is believed by most that the Ten Commandments, if followed by everyone, would eliminate all of the problems of the world. Did you know that it is possible to keep ALL of the Ten Commandments without having the spirit of God or without being spiritually converted? It is true.

Here are the commandments: You shall have none other gods before Me You shall not make you any graven image You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it Honor your father and your mother You shall not kill [murder] Neither shall you commit adultery Neither shall you steal Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor Neither shall you covet. Yes, even unaided by the Holy Spirit of God it is possible to keep these commandments of God.

And the proof of this is simple: The penalty for breaking any of these commandments was death, and yet, most in Israel were not stoned to death for breaking these commandments. All of these commandments are referred to as "carnal commandments" in the New Testament (Heb. 7:16).

They do not require a converted spiritual heart to keep and obey. There was ONE commandment, however, that was of a spiritual nature. It had to do with the desires and inclination of the heart. It was the 10th commandment: "Neither shall you desire [covet] your neighbor’s wife… house… field… manservant… maidservant… ox… ass… or anything that is your neighbor’s" (Deut. 5:7-21). However, was anyone ever stoned in ancient Israel for coveting anything that belonged to his neighbor? No. Never.

One could "covet" anything he wanted all day long, just so long as he didn’t break any of the other nine commandments! One could "covet" his neighbor’s wife, just as long as he didn’t commit adultery with her—for that he would be stoned to death. One could "covet" his neighbor’s ox, just so long as he didn’t steal it—for that he would be stoned to death.

Oh, "coveting" was a sin all right, but since it cannot be detected by man unless it eventuates into stealing or the like, no penalty was enforced on such. However, to Paul, it was this commandment that proved to him that his heart was not right with God even though he performed all the visible and outward duties of the law: "…for I had not known [Gk: ‘would not have known’] lust, except the law had said, "Thou shalt not covet" (Rom. 7:7). So lusting and coveting that which is not legal, is a sin, but it carried no penalty in Ancient Israel.

But before a man ever steals, or ever commits adultery with another man’s wife, he first covets, and that is a sin and the precursor to additional sins. But is it man's will that does the coveting? Can man's will, will NOT to covet? Is man's "will" the problem? No, no, it is NOT. Man’s mind is not the birthplace of sin. And certainly man’s will is not the originator of sin.

God did NOT say: "O that there were such a WILL in them…" (Deut. 5:29). If we will just believe, our Lord tells us plainly where sin originates: "And Jesus said, Are ye [all of you] also yet without understanding? Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever enters in at the mouth goes into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth FROM THE HEART; and they defile the man.

For out of THE HEART proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashed hands defiles not a man" (Matt. 15:16-20). Need I remind any that all of the above thoughts and deeds are sin? So, what, pray tell, does all this stuff have to do with Mother Eve’s sin in the garden? A lot—everything. The Apostle John classifies all sins into just three categories under one heading.

LOVE NOT THE WORLD—THREE CATEGORIES OF SIN "Love NOT the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father IS NOT IN HIM. For [for means ‘because’] ALL that is in the world, the lust of the FLESH, the lust of the EYES, and the pride of LIFE, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of God abides for ever" (I John 2:15-17). Notice that "ALL that is in the world"—all the sins of the world, have their origin in one of these three categories of sin that proceeds "out of THE HEART." Not out of the "will" or out of the "mind," but "out of THE HEART."

The "will" and the "mind" are subject to the "heart," and not the other way around. The heart is not subject to the will, neither is the heart subject to the mind, but rather both of these are subject to the birthplace of all human functions—the HEART! Simply and unarguably, Jesus states as a fact, that all evil thoughts and sins proceed OUT OF THE HEART. Now, with all that said, let’s prove once and for all that Mother Eve and Adam were (1) NOT spiritually perfect in any way shape or form, BEFORE they actually ate of the forbidden fruit, and (2) neither did they sin and then partake of the forbidden fruit through the operation of something called "free will."

"And when the woman saw that the tree was GOOD FOR FOOD…" Gen. 3:6: "…lust of the FLESH…" (I John 2:15) and that it was PLEASANT TO THE EYES… Gen. 3:6: "…lust of the EYES…" (I John 2:15) and a tree to be DESIRED TO MAKE ONE WISE Gen. 3:6: "…the PRIDE OF LIFE" (I John 2;15) Eve committed EVERY CATEGORY OF SIN THERE IS IN THE WORLD, BEFORE she actually ate of the forbidden fruit. Hectic! All of Eve’s evil thoughts of pride, vanity, lust, greed, disobedience, and finally thievery proceeded NOT from Eve’s supposed "free will," but rather from out of her HEART. And the only reason these sins could come out of her heart is because THEY WERE ALREADY IN THERE FROM THE BEGINNING.

Before Eve actually ate of the forbidden fruit, she committed every category of sin in the world. And need I remind us that we were also, ALL IN ADAM, before he ate of the tree (I Corinthians 15:22). Will we deny our own eyes and the Scriptures we have just read? Let me interject a few thoughts here before we go on.

Science has never found an "effect" anywhere in the universe for which they believe there was not first a "cause." I mean, how could it be otherwise? What is there anywhere, that can happen, come into existence, display an effect, for which there was absolutely no cause? Why is it then that most of humanity believes that they can think thoughts that they themselves brought into existence WITHOUT ANY CAUSE? Why would anyone think such a thing?

Well, for one thing, they are not usually, consciously aware of the cause. Therefore, they deceive themselves into believing that their thoughts HAD NO CAUSE! But since when must the cause of an effect be visible or perceivable in order to be accepted? I can witness the tremendous effects and power of electricity, and yet I have never seen electricity. I see the effects and power of the wind, and yet I have never seen the wind. We can also see things and not feel them.

I can see the sky, but I can’t feel the sky. We can also hear sounds, but we can’t see sounds. The rays of the sun burn our skin, but we can’t see the actual rays that burn us. We can smell things that we cannot see, hear, or feel. We can’t see taste.

Then why should it seem strange to us that we can have thoughts without seeing, feeling, hearing, or smelling the CAUSE of those thoughts. It is amazing just how deceiving this doctrine of free will is when we consider that most scientists accept free will as a fact, yet they would never in a million years accept anything else in the universe as coming into existence without a cause!

Psychiatrists and psychologists look for every conceivable CAUSE of mental diseases, personality disorders, and a plethora of behavioral dysfunctions associated with the thinking of the mentally challenged.

Try to convince even one of them that these disorders have absolutely no cause whatsoever, and see how they will look at you with a cocked head. But then suggest to these same experts if indeed all of these malfunctioning thought patterns do have a cause, then, just maybe, all of our properly functioning and socially acceptable thoughts, also have causes. And they will once more look at you with a cocked head of incredulity! Does anyone see a contradiction in all this free will philosophy?

It has been wisely stated, that once a bell has been rung, it can never be un-rung. And this axiom is also true for our thoughts and everything else in the universe that was the effect of some cause. Once we are caused to have a particular thought, it is not even in the realm of possibility for that thought to never have occurred.

IT HAD TO OCCUR. Once anything causes something, the effect of that cause could never have been otherwise. The very fact that everything in the history of the universe and the history of the human race had a cause is proof positive that this same history could never have been different. Whatever has happened, HAD TO HAPPEN.

The CAUSES of all happenings made all of the effects come into existence. Nothing that has a cause can ever be stopped, for if the cause could be stopped, the effect would have never happened, and we would not have the existence of any such cause to even be talking about in the first place.

BUT ALL THINGS THAT HAVE HAPPENED, HAVE HAPPENED! This is not rocket science. No one can UN-RING a bell. But keep making choices.

After all, you have a free will? Or do you? Hmmm…

Continue Reading

Opinions

Internal party-democracy under pressure

21st June 2022

British novelist, W. Somerset Maugham once opined: “If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that if it is comfort or money that it values more, it will lose that too.”

The truism in these words cannot be underestimated, especially when contextualizing against the political developments in Botswana. We have become a nation that does not value democracy, yet nothing represent freedom more than democracy. In fact, we desire, and value winning power or clinging to power more than anything else, even if it harms the democratic credentials of our political institutions. This is happening across political parties — ruling and opposition.

As far as democracy is concerned, we are regressing. We are becoming worse-off than we were in the past. If not arrested, Botswana will lose its status as among few democratic nations in the Africa. Ironically, Botswana was the first country in Africa to embrace democracy, and has held elections every five years without fail since independence.

We were once viewed as the shining example of Africa. Those accolades are not worth it any more. Young democracies such as South Africa, with strong institutions, deserves to be exalted. Botswana has lost faith in democracy, and we will pay a price for it. It is a slippery slope to dictatorship, which will bring among other excess, assault on civil liberties and human rights violations.

Former President, Festus Mogae once stated that Botswana’s democracy will only become authentic, when a different party, other than the Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) wins elections, and when the President of such party is not from Serowe.

Although many may not publicly care to admit, Mogae’s assertion is true. BDP has over the years projected itself as a dyed-in-the-wool proponent of democracy, but the moment its stay in power became threatened and uncertain, it started behaving in a manner that is at variance with democratic values.  This has been happening over the years now, and the situation is getting worse by the day.

Recently, the BDP party leadership has been preaching compromise and consensus candidates for 2024 general elections. Essentially, the leadership has lost faith in the Bulela Ditswe dispensation, which has been used to selected party candidates for council and parliament since 2003. The leadership is discouraging democracy because they believe primary elections threaten party unity. It is a strange assertion indeed.

Bulela Ditswe was an enrichment of internal party democracy in the sense that it replaced the previous method of selection of candidates known as Committee of 18, in which a branch committee made of 18 people endorsed the representatives. While it is true that political contest can divide, the ruling party should be investing in political education and strengthening in its primary elections processes. Democracy does not come cheap or easy, but it is valuable.

Any unity that we desire so much at the expense of democracy is not true unity. Like W. Somerset Maugham said, democracy would be lost in the process, and ultimately, even the unity that was desired would eventually be lost too. Any solution that sacrifice democracy would not bring any results in the long run, except misery.

We have seen that also in opposition ranks. The Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) recently indicated that its incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) should not be challenged for their seats. While BDP is sacrificing democracy to stay in power, UDC is sacrificing democracy to win power. It is a scary reality given the fact that both parties – ruling and opposition — have embraced this position and believe democracy is the hindrance to their political ambitions.

These current reality points to one thing; our political parties have lost faith in democracy. They desire power more than, the purpose of power itself. It is also a crisis of leadership across the political divide, where we have seen dissenting views being met with persecution. We have seen perverting of political process endorsed by those in echelons of power to manipulate political outcomes in their favour.

Democracy should not be optional, it should be mandatory. Any leader proposing curtailing of democracy should be viewed with suspicion, and his adventures should be rejected before it is too late. Members of political parties, as subscribers of democracy, should collectively rise to the occasion to save their democracy from self-interest that is becoming prevalent among Botswana political parties.

The so-called compromise candidates, only benefits the leadership because it creates comforts for them. But for members, and for the nation, it is causing damage by reversing the gains that have been made over the years. We should reject leaders who only preach democracy in word, but are hesitant to practice it.

Continue Reading

Opinions

The Big Deal About Piracy

21st June 2022
piracy

Piracy of all kinds continues to have a massive impact on the global creative industry and the economies of the countries where it thrives.

One of the biggest misconceptions around piracy is that an individual consumer’s piracy activities, especially in a market the size of Botswana’s, is only a drop in the pool of potential losses to the different sectors of the economy piracy affects.

When someone sitting in Gaborone, Botswana logs onto an illegal site to download King Richard online, they don’t imagine that their one download will do anything to the production house’s pocket or make a dent in the actors’ net worth. At best, the sensitivity towards this illegal pirating activity likely only exists when contemplating going about pirating a local musician’s music or a short film produced locally.

The ripple effects of piracy at whatever scale reach far beyond what the average consumer could ever imagine. Figures released by software security and media technology company, Irdeto, show that users in five major African territories made approximately 17,4 million total visits to the top 10 identified piracy sites on the internet.

The economic impact of this on the creative industry alone soars to between 40 and 97.1 billion dollars, according a 2022 Dataprot study. In addition, they estimate that “illegally streamed copyrighted content consumes 24% of global bandwidth”.

As Botswana’s creative industry remains relatively slight on the scale of comparison to industries such as Nollywood and Nilewood where the creative industry contributes a huge proportion to West and East Africa’s respective GDPs, that does not imply that piracy activities in Botswana do not have a similar impact on our economy and the ability of our creative industry to grow.

When individuals make decisions to illegally consume content via internet streaming sites they believe they are saving money for themselves in the name of enjoying content they desire to consume. Although this is a personal choice that remains the prerogative of the consumer, looking beyond the fact that streaming on illegal content sites is piracy, the ripple effect of this decision also has an endless trail of impact where funds which could be used to grow the local creative industry through increased consumption, and revenue which would otherwise be fed back into Botswana’s economy are being diverted.

“Why can’t our local creative industry grow?” “Why don’t we see more home-grown films and shows in Botswana?” are questions constantly posed by those who consume television content in Botswana. The answer to this lies largely in the fact that Botswana’s local content needs an audience in order for it to grow. It needs support from government and entities which are in a position to fund and help the industry scale greater heights.

Any organisational body willing to support and grow the local creative industry needs to exist and operate in an economy which can support its mandates. Content piracy is a cycle that can only be alleviated when consumers make wiser decisions around what they consume and how.

This goes beyond eradicating piracy activities in so far as television content is concerned. This extends to the importation and trade in counterfeit goods, resale of goods and services not intended for resale across the border, outside its jurisdiction, and more. All of these activities stunt the growth of an economy and make it nearly impossible for industries and sectors to propel themselves to places where they can positively impact society and reinvest into the country’s economy.

So what can be done to turn the tide here in Botswana in order to see our local production houses gain the momentum required to produce more, license more and expand their horizons? While those who enforce the law continue to work towards minimizing piracy activities, it’s imperative that as consumers we work to make their efforts easier by being mindful of how our individual actions play a role in preventing the success of our local creative networks and our economy’s growth.

Whether you are pirating a Hollywood Blockbuster, illegally streaming a popular Motswana artist’s music, or smuggling in an illegal decoder to view content restricted to South Africa only, your actions have an impact on how we as a nation will make our mark on the global landscape with local creative productions. Thembi Legwaila is Corporate Affairs Manager, MultiChoice Botswana

Continue Reading

Opinions

Our Strength is our Unity

18th March 2022
Craig-Cloud

Putin Chose War.  We Remain United with Ukraine.

U.S. Ambassador Craig L. Cloud

This is a dangerous moment for Europe and for freedom-loving people around the world.  By launching his brutal assault on the people of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin has also committed an assault on the principles that uphold global peace and democracy.  But the people of Ukraine are resilient.

They’ve had a democracy for decades, and their bravery is inspiring the world.  The United States, together with our Allies and partners across the globe, will continue to support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country.  By choosing to pay for a war instead of investing in the needs of Russians, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be a strategic failure for the Kremlin and ravage the future of the Russian people.

When the history of this era is written, it will show that Putin’s choice to launch an unprovoked, unjust, and premeditated attack left the West more unified and Russia exponentially weaker.

United in Our Response

This will not end well for Vladimir Putin.  Together, the United States and our Allies and partners are taking action to hold Russia accountable.  As a result of unprecedented global sanctions coordination, the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Japan, and Canada have removed selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system and imposed restrictive measures on the Russian Central Bank.

President Biden announced sweeping financial sanctions and stringent export controls that will damage Russia’s economy, financial system, and access to cutting-edge technology.  After Putin began his invasion, the ruble hit its weakest point in history, and the Russian stock market plunged.

Along with the United Kingdom and European Union, the United States imposed sanctions on the architects of this war, including Putin himself.

By moving in close coordination with a powerful coalition of Allies and partners representing more than half of the global economy, we have magnified the impact of our actions to impose maximum costs on Putin and his regime.  In response to Putin’s war of choice, we will limit Russia’s ability to do business in U.S. dollars.

We will stunt Russia’s ability to finance and grow its military.  We will impair Russia’s ability to compete in the global economy.  And we are prepared to do more.

In addition to economic penalties, this week President Biden authorized an additional $1 billion over the $350 million of security assistance he recently approved, and a $650 million in 2021, to immediately help Ukraine defend itself, bringing America’s total security assistance to Ukraine over the past year to $2 billion.

We also stand ready to defend our NATO Allies.  President Biden has coordinated with Allied governments to position thousands of additional forces in Germany and Poland as part of our commitment to NATO’s collective defense.

He authorized the deployment of ground and air forces already stationed in Europe to NATO’s eastern and southeastern flanks:  Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.  Our Allies have also added their own forces and capabilities to ensure our collective defense.  There should be no doubt about the readiness of the greatest military Alliance in the history of the world:  NATO is more united than ever.

The United States has also coordinated with major oil-producing and consuming countries to underscore our common interest in securing global energy supplies.  We are working with energy companies to surge their capacity to supply energy to the market, particularly as prices increase.

Putin’s Unprovoked and Premeditated War

This was an attack that Vladimir Putin has planned for a long time.  He methodically moved more than 150,000 troops and military equipment to Ukraine’s border.  He moved blood supplies into position and built field hospitals, demonstrating his intentions all along.

He rejected every good-faith effort by the United States and our Allies and partners to address his fabricated security concerns and to avoid needless conflict and human suffering by engaging in diplomacy and dialogue.

Putin executed his playbook exactly as we had warned he would do.  We saw Russia’s proxies increase their shelling in the Donbas.  We saw the Russian government launch cyber-operations against Ukraine.  We saw staged political theater in Moscow and heard outlandish and baseless claims made about Ukraine in an attempt to justify Russia’s aggression.

Russia continues to justify its military aggression by falsely claiming the need to stop “genocide” in Ukraine – despite there being no evidence that genocide was occurring there.  We saw Russia use these tactics before when they invaded Ukraine in 2014 and Georgia in 2008.

And then, at almost the very same moment the United Nations Security Council was meeting to stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty and forestall disaster, Putin launched his invasion in violation of international law.  Missiles began to rain down, striking historic cities across Ukraine.  Then came air raids, columns of tanks, and battalions of troops, all riding a renewed wave of disinformation and outright lies.

We have been transparent with the world.  We declassified our intelligence about Russia’s plans so there could be no confusion and no cover up.  Putin is the aggressor.  Putin chose this war.  And now his people will bear the consequences of his decision to invest in war rather than in them.

Transatlantic Unity and Resolve Stronger Than Ever

Putin’s goal of dividing the West has failed.  In the face of one of the most significant challenges to European security and democratic ideals since World War II, the United States and our Allies and partners have joined together in solidarity.  We have united, coordinating intensively to engage as one with Russia and Ukraine, provided assistance to Ukraine, developed a broad response, and reaffirmed our commitment to NATO.

Putin has failed to divide us.  Putin has failed to undermine our shared belief in the fundamental right of sovereign nations to choose their destiny and their allies.  And Putin will fail to erase the proud nation of Ukraine.

The next few days, weeks, and months will be incredibly difficult for the people of Ukraine.  Putin has unleashed great suffering on them.  But the Ukrainian people have known 30 years of independence, and they have repeatedly shown they will not tolerate anyone who tries to take their country backwards.

The world is watching this conflict closely, and if Russian forces commit atrocities, we will explore all international mechanisms that could be used to bring those responsible – whether members of the military or their civilian leadership – to account.

Putin’s aggression against Ukraine will cost Russia profoundly, both economically and strategically.  The Russian people deserve better from their government than the immense cost to their future that this invasion has precipitated.

Liberty, democracy, and human dignity are forces far more powerful than fear and oppression.  In the contest between democracy and autocracy, between sovereignty and subjugation, make no mistake:  Freedom will prevail.

Continue Reading
Weekend Post