The Cries of the Oppressed
Karen E. Pansler, J.D.
I heard the voice of the Lord, saying,
Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?
Then said I, Here am I; send me.
Listen, my friend, do you hear the cries of the oppressed? Every day men, women, and children around the world cry out in despair for relief from oppression. They cry out for relief from drugs, booze, pornography, and other evils that hold them or loved ones in bondage. Listen, my friend, do you hear the cries of the oppressed? They cry out for relief from cruel spouses or cruel parents, relief from discrimination, relief from harsh employers, relief from repressive governments, and other oppression.
The cries of the oppressed touch the heart of God because oppression degrades us. And God wants us to be free from the sin that crushes our spirits and keeps us from living a life of liberty. God is the champion of the oppressed. God wants to deliver us from evil so that we can enjoy social, political, personal, and religious liberty.
First of all, let’s define liberty. Many Americans confuse liberty with license. So, what is liberty? Liberty is freedom from social, religious, or political bondage. An example is when we granted liberty to the slaves. On the other hand, license is unrestrained freedom. It is an abuse of freedom. License disregards legal or moral restraints. The cry for liberty is often a cry for license. For example, advocates of pornography argue it is freedom of speech. They refuse to admit its harmful effects on the individual and society. Of course, we know that pornographic is just a whitewashed name for material that's lewd, lascivious, obscene, indecent, lustful, improper, filthy, vulgar, foul, dirty, impure, lecherous, lurid, sordid, shameless, wanton, licentious, depraved, and so forth.
Liberty frees us to live a joyful and fulfilling life in a safe, peaceful, and healthful society. Liberty upholds what is best for everyone. License upholds self-indulgence. Liberty lifts us up; license drags us down.
Our Heavenly Father declares liberty, not license: “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Likewise, America’s founding fathers declared liberty, not license: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (The Declaration of Independence).
On the other hand, license is oppression. Oppressors take too much liberty of action. They abuse freedom. They wrongly believe they are free to be cruel and unjust. Oppressors ignore our natural rights, reign with an iron hand, and crush our liberty.
There are two types of oppression – internal oppression and external oppression. First, there is the oppression we bring upon ourselves – internal oppression. Internal oppression is self-inflicted. Internal oppression is when we put ourselves in bondage by self-destructive behavior such as drugs, booze, pornography, and other sins that keep us dependent on them. These short-lived pleasurable cravings have long-term destructive effects. Drugs, booze, pornography, and so forth destroy us when we give in to these violent passions. Self-love and self-gratification control us; we oppress ourselves. Sadly, the effects are far-reaching, ripping through the home, the community, and the nation causing mass destruction and death.
For example, a drunkard destroys not only himself, but also his family. It affects his job. And it may lead to other serious results such as drunk driving and killing innocent victims. You know the current slogan, “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” Well, what about “Friends don’t let friends get drunk”?
However, some allege that these degrading and immoral practices are a disease. They also allege gambling is a disease. To concede self-gratification is a disease would free the drunkard, drug addict, and lecher of all responsibility and accountability. Evil habits aren’t a physical disease; evil habits are a spiritual disease - hedonism. However, when we lack self-control and self-discipline, our self-abuse often causes physical disease. When we weaken and give in to powerful evil passions, we weaken our will power. Unfortunately, evil takes such a powerful grip over our soul, that often it holds us in bondage. Our soul becomes a dark, foul, shameful dungeon filled with the filth and stench of these loathsome habits. We become a prisoner to our own evil desires. In other words, these evil passions enslave us. They take away our freedom to live a godly and joyful life. They enslave us. They destroy our liberty.
Often when suffering from internal oppression, we refuse to admit we’re enslaved to these evil habits. We ignore the cries and pleas of loved ones and friends to stop our self-abuse. Unfortunately, we love ourselves more than anyone, even God. We are interested in only one person – Self. We are consumed with self-will, self-interest, self-seeking, self-gratification, self-indulgence, and self-love. Our uncontrolled passion for drinking, drugs, pornography, and other evil burns so strongly that it consumes our noble, godly desires to do good.
And if we decide to break free, it’s not so easy! The harder we pull on the chains of sin that grip our soul, the tighter their grip. We need someone stronger than ourselves to break the chains, open the prison door, and set us free! Of course, the only One who can deliver us from our evil passions is Jesus. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). The word bruised means oppressed.
We must ask Jesus to give us a clean heart. After committing adultery, David cried unto the Lord: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:7, 10). President Bush openly proclaims that God delivered him from a drinking problem when he was a young man. “Christ . . . changed my heart,” Mr. Bush said during a 1999 presidential debate. Christ alone can transform the unrighteous into the righteous.
In the early church, Paul warns the Corinthians that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God (I Corinthians 6:9, 10). Paul then testifies about Christ's power to deliver us, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Corinthians 6:11). Let me repeat that, “And such were some of you.” Christ broke their chains of sin! In other words, Christ set them free!
Before leaving internal oppression, I want to tell you the true story of Tom, a religious churchgoer. On the outside, he looked like a saint. However, his soul was filled with evil passions. In the privacy of his own house, he allowed his dark side free reign. He was imprisoned by booze, pornography, and other filthy passions. Tom told me the following experience: “One Sunday morning in church, during the altar call, God spoke to me. He said, ‘Tom, if you will go to the altar this morning, I will deliver you from all your evil desires.’ But I didn’t want delivered, so I didn’t go.”
What do you think about that? Christ the Deliverer was reaching out to deliver Tom from all his sinful, filthy habits. But he refused liberty! Picture it this way: For years, a miserable, tormented young man is locked in a dark, foul prison surrounded by the stench of booze, pornography, and other filth. Christ comes and knocks at the prison door. The Deliverer offers to cleanse and heal the prisoner’s soul. He mercifully offers to set the prisoner free! Does the wretched prisoner accept the offer of deliverance with a heartfelt sigh of relief? No! He scornfully tells the Deliverer, “Go away!” He refuses to open his heart. He desires to remain imprisoned in his squalor.
Christ won’t break down the door. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Notice it is up to us to let Him in. We have to open the door. He won’t force us to open our hearts to Him. The choice is ours. That’s free will.
And let me mention lust. John was enslaved to soft core pornography – lingerie catalogs. You know the ones I’m talking about. They are so blasphemous often the models are dressed as angels! Sadly, he had these catalogs all over his house. One day he confessed, “Karen, I think about these women all the time. I can’t think of anything else.” At times, he determined to give up lusting after these women. However, one evening he told me he knew in his heart it’s wrong to lust after these women, but if he was enslaved by lust, he didn’t want to be set free. Another person who refused to let Christ set him free!
Now let’s move on to the second type of oppression - external oppression. What is external oppression? External oppression is when someone thrusts the yoke of bondage upon us. It is the heavy burden of cruelty forced on us against our will. Oppressors crush us by abuse of power or authority. Oppressors rule by intimidation. Oppressors are cruel and unjust. Oppressors use their physical, religious, intellectual, political, marital, or social authority or power to gain their will over us. We, the oppressed, must bend to the absolute unreasonable will of the oppressor. Oppressors force us to suppress our needs, talents, feelings, beliefs, and actions.
Oppressors are cruel and unjust because they often feel we are beneath them and should be kept down. Others oppress because they feel inferior to us and want to punish us. Oppressors love to humiliate us because it makes them feel powerful. It makes them feel important. It makes them feel superior. They despise us and treat us like property, like animals. Oppressors demean us because there is hatred in their hearts.
Unquestionably, oppressors must repent. They must right the wrongs. To refuse to repent is to refuse to bind a gaping wound that you have inflicted on someone. You must make amends. When you oppress someone, God is against you unless you repent. Repenting and righting the wrong is evidence that you confess your fault and are truly sorry for harming the other person. It begins the process of healing broken hearts, broken homes, and broken relationships. Repentance opens the door to reconciliation. "If he repents, forgive him" (Luke 17:3). Reconciliation to others results in reconciliation to Christ. Yet, hardhearted oppressors refuse to repent and continue to intimidate, despise, demean, and crush others.
At this very moment, millions of men, women, and children in America and around the world are crying out for relief from oppression. Political tyrants, domineering spouses, cruel parents, harsh employers, and other oppressors make their lives miserable and unbearable. The downtrodden cry out to God, "Deliver us!"
Thankfully, God hears the cries of the oppressed. God heard the cries of the children of Israel. “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them” (Exodus 3:9). Did God turn a deaf ear to their pleas for help? No! God heard their plea for help and sent Moses to deliver them. God set the children of Israel free! Moses led the Israelites out of the land of bondage to the land of liberty. Moses was the champion of the oppressed in the Old Testament.
In the New Testament, Jesus is the champion of the oppressed. Christ came to deliver us from the bondage of internal and external oppression. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). The word bruised means oppressed. Jesus came to set the oppressed free. Jesus came to conquer oppressors.
Oppressors are heartless tyrants that abuse their power. Oppressors are evildoers; oppressors are enemies of liberty. Oppressors are enemies of man and enemies of God. Christians must actively fight oppression, not willingly accept things as they are. We must put on the whole armor of God to fight spiritual wickedness (Ephesians 6:10-17). We must overcome the great evil empire of oppression.
Now an oppressor doesn’t necessarily hold a political position. Oppressors aren’t just dictators of oppressive governments. They can be found in homes, at work, in churches, and other places. Listen closely. Do you hear the cries of the oppressed all around you?
Listen, my friend, do you hear the cries of oppressed spouses who suffer from the brutal blows of heavy-handed husbands or wives? It may be emotional, mental, economic, or physical abuse, and other cruel acts. Domineering husbands and wives oppress their spouses by unfairly scolding them, grinding them down, and making their lives bitter. They cause their spouses to be fearful, submissive, and discourage them from action. They demean and degrade their spouses, crush their spirits, and force them to submit to their will. The oppressed spouses cry out, “Who will deliver us?"
Listen, my friend, do you hear the cries of oppressed children who suffer from harsh words, brutal blows, and other heartless acts of cruel parents and other persons? Woe unto those who hurt children! Jesus warns those who offend children that it would be better if a millstone were hanged around his neck, and he were drowned in the sea (Matthew 18:6). Children who should be enjoying the sunshine of youth are cast down into darkness and despair. The oppressed children cry out, "Who will deliver us?"
Listen, my friend, do you hear the cries of oppressed workers as they labor under the cruelty of harsh taskmasters? They cry out from the cruel and unjust lashes of employers who pay workers as little as possible, trample their feelings, and ignore their moral and civil rights. Some employers are so self-important they refuse to accept the God-given abilities and talents of employees. They demand the work be done their way, even if the employee has better ideas. Sadly, unless we enjoy some degree of freedom in our daily job, our natural right to exercise our God-given faculties of mind and will is thwarted, and our lot becomes that of slaves who merely do the bidding of others. Millions of workers around the world suffer misery and personal indignity on their jobs daily. Oppressive employers spit on their employees’ human dignity. The oppressed workers cry out, “Who will deliver us?”
Listen, my friend, do you hear the cries of women and minorities oppressed by discrimination? Yes, we’ve come a long way, but women and minorities are still enslaved by discrimination, especially in the South. Sadly, the Bible belt is probably the region in America with the strongest resistance to equality. Many professing Christians despise women and minorities. Oh, yes, they profess to hold up the Biblical truth of equality, but refuse to actually uphold both man’s law and God’s Law of equality. They persecute, demean, and degrade women and minorities. The oppressed women and minorities cry out, “Who will deliver us?”
Listen, my friend, do you hear the cries of oppressed subjects who cringe under the iron fist of a brutal political regime? Dictators, despots, and tyrants live in splendor while their subjects live in deprivation, poverty, and other human misery and suffering. The oppressors refuse the downtrodden a voice in the government. They crush their liberty. Our oppressed brothers and sisters around the world cry out, “Who will deliver us?”
Listen, my friend, to the cries of the oppressed from the dungeon of oppression: "Who will deliver us?" Listen to the cries of those who are cast down into darkness, misery, and despair: "Who will deliver us?" All around the world, men and women and children are crying out for deliverance from internal and external oppression. Some cry aloud; some cry silently in their hearts: “Who will deliver us?"
Today God is searching for willing hearts and willing hands to answer the cries of the oppressed: "Who will deliver us?" Listen, my friend, do you hear God calling, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Will you lift up your voice and answer, "Here am I; send me"?
Go into all the world,