In a court of justice, when somebody is given a restraining order, that person is limited, restricted, held back and not allowed to go anywhere near a certain person’s home at a given distance – for example perhaps, no closer than 100 or 200 metres.
There are people who are disqualified from driving or riding any motor vehicle. Some are restricted for just a few months, others for much longer - 12 months, or two or three years.
The judge, Justices of the Peace or the court have ordered a “hold back” on them. They are ordered not to drive or ride again as the result of a traffic offence that they might have committed.
We read in our daily newspaper every so often of people being ordered by a judge or JPs, to abstain from drinking alcohol and taking drugs - let alone buying them!
So the law holds these people back from a certain actions that might just lead them right back to reoffending them. Police might check on them, limiting or restricting their freedom. There are even curfews put on some people, that they cannot leave their premises or homes between certain times, especially at night.
There was once an incident which caused a huge public outrage over a decision made by the principal, teachers and PTA committee of Tereora College to expel from a few students caught smoking cannabis or marijuana at school. Some said this punishment was a little too harsh while others agreed to the form of discipline made as necessary and justified.
One certain individual who responded to a street poll simply said: “It is the school’s choice and it goes right back to the home”.
People of God, these are but only few examples of holding back, restricting the freedom of anybody doing harm or injustice against any of our own fellow human beings.
If only all could have that same restraining power of the Holy Ghost, which should well up from our innermost being that requires no outside power or authority to implement, we would have a much better and safer society and community to live in.
One of the nine fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5: 22 – 23 is “temperance”, meaning “self-control”.
If any Christian or believer in the Lord Jesus claims to have have the Holy Ghost, that fruit of temperance or self-control should be seen or manifested in their lives.
Against such, Paul adds, “...there is no law”.
Temperance should control our over-indulgence and obsession with drunkenness, temper, anger, rage, wrath, fury, violence, bitterness, envy, lust, sexual immorality, lawlessness, uncontrolled outbursts of emotions and so forth.
We have a Court of Justice in the Cook Islands because we, as Christians, are no better off than those that do not believe in any “god” and go to no church at all.
Thank God we still have laws in our country to govern, to protect our Cook Islands society and community and make our homes that much safer to live in. Because of those laws, our environment is a safer place for our children and they can freely wander about in their own backyards to play.
Many countries no longer have safe and secure places for their children to play or for the public to walk about without the need to keep a close watch at them. The people of these unfortunate countries no longer have true freedom to enjoy life to the full.
Some people barricade themselves within their homes while evil men wander freely on the outside looking for an opportunity to either break in or commit a crime.
The Rarotonga of old when we would leave the doors of our homes wide open, cars and motorbikes with the keys still in them is no more to be seen today.
On most of the outer islands you can still live like this, but it’s definitely not possible on Rarotonga with burglaries, theft and drink-driving occurring almost every week.
News from abroad shows us evil people entering into school yards and killing innocent school children; evil people are driving by and taking random shots at people’s homes.
Children, teenagers and women in particular go missing almost every day, only to be found later violently abused, indecently assaulted, raped and murdered.
Once upon a time we only heard of drug trafficking, but these days, it’s human trafficking – transporting young girls to be sold into prostitution or the slave trade.
In some parts of the world, girls as young as nine and 10 years are given to marriage to men three times, five times and seven times their age.
Many people are legally claiming their rights to gun ownership, calling it self-defence!
Jesus warned his disciple Peter, “All who take the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 22: 52).
In fact, most countries who have taken up guns for defence and protection are dying by their own guns.
The Bible declares that the Word of God is the safest sword or gun to take up against any enemy (Galatians 6: 17).
Today, we see more and more murderers, rapists, notorious criminals easily beating the judiciary system and escaping from what they call psychiatric treatment or rehabilitation reform programmes.
In the Bible and back in the times when there were no judges, no leaders, no laws to govern the land, the people of Israel reverted to idolatry, back to a state of lawlessness. Each person did “what was right and pleasing in his/her own eyes”. The land and people were corrupt, wicked and evil.
Back in the days of our forefathers before Christianity arrived, high chiefs and men of power practised polygamy, cannibalism and in anticide. Tribal warfare was common.
The change from tprimitive and heathen lifestyles to a more civilised and Christianized one caused many to lay down their weapons and learned to value life more and respect each other in the name of their new God, Jesus Christ.
Thank God we still have some God-fearing leaders, mothers and fathers and people in our tiny country of the Cook Islands who still uphold the bloodstained banner of our Lord Jesus Christ. Otherwise, we would be as doomed as those big and rich countries and people who have thrown their Christian God out of the window in order to live a life “that is pleasing in their own eyes”.
Do we want to revert back to the ancient days of our forefathers: Definitely not!
Thank God we still have the laws and a strong judiciary system in our country to govern, to protect, to keep criminals at bay, to make our Cook Islands society and community and even our own homes that much safer to live in. Thanks to this system, the environment is a safer place for our children to play.
Thank God also that we have a strong police force, community police and police volunteers coming on board, Neighbourhood Watch and many other community awareness groups that keep a close watch on those who would defy or take the law into their own hands.
But the greatest and most powerful, above all else, is the “Law of Liberty” within our own hearts.
Jesus said, “It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter which is the Holy Ghost will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness and of judgement. Of sin, because they believe not on Me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see Me no more. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged”.
What does the Holy Ghost do for us?
1. He leads us into all truth! (John 16:13)
2. He will show us of things to come! (vs. 13)
3. He will glorify Christ (vs. 14)
4. He will testify of Christ (15: 26)
5. He will bear witness of Christ (15: 27)
6. He will call to remembrance everything about Christ (John 14: 26)
7. He will teach us all about Christ (John 14: 26)
8. He will restrain the evil one (2 Thessalonians 2: 7)
9. He will resurrect or rapture the saints (1 Corinthians 6: 14)
The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ has gifted the Church this same restraining power of Christ to help equip the church and every believer in Him to be above rather than under the ruling power of that old and ancient serpent, Satan.
There are these two powers at war with each other, whichever one we allow to dominate our conscience or daily living.
The Anti-Christ forcing us to sin, and Christ Jesus withholding and keeping us from sin.
Which and whose power is at work in us right now?
Which and whose power is overcoming and controlling more of our life the most?
The Apostle Paul leaves us with these most powerful and encouraging words to help us stay focused on Him and to remain victorious in all our struggles and challenges in life.
“I can do all things in Christ Jesus which strengthens me” (Ephesians 4: 13).
“If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
“We are more than conquerors through Him (Christ) who loved us” (Romans 8:31).
“For greater is He (Jesus) that is in us, than he (satan) that is in the world” (1 John 4: 4).
Finally, “Repent of our sins, be baptised in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins, and only then shall we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2: 38).
God save and bless the Cook Islands.
Bishop Tutai Pere