Philo: "Every Good Man is Free"
January 26, 2012
"You can't feel good without being good." We spend our lives trying to skirt this truth.
Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary of Christ, reminds us that freedom is a spiritual state. A reader, Al Thompson, reviews Philo's inspiring essay, "Every Good Man is Free."
by Al Thompson
"....Every wicked man is a slave, and that proposition I fully established by many natural and unquestionable arguments;" "......we will proceed to show that every virtuous man is free."
Anyone who offends God in any way is indeed a slave. He is in bondage to Satan or evil and there is no way a man can please God while breaking any of His commandments.
Philo (20 BCE - 50 CE), known also as Philo of Alexandria was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria. His work was important for several Christian Church Fathers but has been ignored by Judaism.
"...God is my ruler, and no mortal man....."
"For, in real truth, that man alone is free who has God for his leader;..."
Ultimately, this is the only viable condition for any man, woman, or child. Because man-made laws are too inconsistent, too capricious, and too convoluted to be of any practical use.
God's natural laws are very easy to understand because they are self-evident. By taking other men out of the equation, the true relationship between God and man is direct and profound. There is no middleman because it isn't needed.
The goal should be the acquisition of virtue and good character. These things can be acquired by keeping within the natural law of God's creation. And that is all for which most people are responsible. We don't need any religious nonsense to satisfy God. What we need is to build good character within ourselves in order to defeat the evil. Evil is weak and ineffective, and there is no good thing that can come from it. And people who are engaged in evil are then slaves to it. There's a reason why it is called bondage.
"But the virtuous man has absolutely no obstacle at all since he rises up against, and resists, and overthrows, and tramples on fear, and cowardice, and pain, and all things of that kind, as if they were rivals defeated by him in the public games. For he has learned to disregard all the commands which those most unlawful masters of the soul seek to impose upon him."
Notice the use of the words "unlawful masters." Can we not apply them to our religious and political leaders? All politicians and religious leaders I am aware of are chronic liars and only use God's laws if it suits their agenda.
"But the virtuous man does do everything wisely; therefore he alone is free. And indeed the man whom it is not possible either to compel to do anything, or to prevent from doing anything, cannot possibly be a slave; and one cannot compel or prevent the virtuous man."
This is a very important point. A wise man cannot be compelled to do anything that he doesn't want to do. A virtuous man cannot be corrupted. And I think that if more men and women made it a point to avoid their evil inclinations it would make their lives--and those around them-- a lot more pleasant.
No matter what the situation, the virtuous man will always have the upper hand in everything because he is setting his foundation upon natural law that is in turn established by the God who created us.
"..Slavery, then, is of two kinds; slavery of the soul and slavery of the body. Now, of our bodies, men are masters; but over our souls, wickedness and the passions have the dominion. And we may speak of freedom in the same manner. For one kind of freedom gives fearlessness of body in respect of any dangers which can come upon it from men of still more powerful body; while the other produces peace to the mind, by putting a check upon the authority of the passions."
Evil and passions have a way of putting us into a type of stupor where we do evil things and can't seem to control it. By exercising a little self-control, any man can separate himself from evil and build up his character by obeying God's commandments.
Religions seem to blur the common sense that God established under natural law. When I conduct my behavior in line with God's commandments, I seem to have more inner peace and I don't have a lot of bad things happening to me.
As I look back on my life, bad things happened due to my disobedience to God's law. Having said that, I am not a religious man, and I don't practice any religious rituals because they always have the potential to lead me into idolatry.
I just leave all religious rituals alone as they are too dangerous to use. I don't go to any churches or religious functions because there is simply too much idolatry.
Goodness and virtue are things that every man, woman, or child should be pursuing rather than digging themselves deeper and deeper into the hole of evil.
In addition, there is no sense in studying evil people and evil events. They are what they are and it is destructive to the mind to keep studying things that are stupid; nothing smart comes from it.
Sure, you need to know the basics, but after that, there's no sense in viewing it over and over again. Keeping the mind continually focused on the goal of becoming a good man or woman should be of the highest priority.
An unabridged version of this article can be found here.
A copy of Every Good Man is Free click here.
Walter Allen Thompson is the author of Grace of Repentance: Keeping God's Commandments and is a former businessman, income tax activist, who has recently spent over 5 years at a federally-funded sabbatical in a gated community. His website is http://www.graceofrepentance.com