13 November 2021
Here's a principle that goes way back from the early days of privacy advocates, before the Internet: All governments treat their citizens as enemies.
You don't have to go looking hard to prove that idea. Think about something obvious: clandestine services. How do they work in the first place? They collect information they aren't supposed to have. They hide it from those who are supposed to have it. The whole point is to be in a position to break all the rules and get away with it. They claim to work for the people's interest. It's a lie. They demand trust and offer none. The very moment they start doing their secretive stuff, they become your enemy, and you become theirs.
They don't even serve the State that pays them, simply because they hold information the rest of the State apparatus cannot access. They are forced to treat everyone as an enemy, including their own internal staff. Everyone in the clandestine service treats everyone they work with as a potential threat. It's the mad paradox of clandestine services everywhere. It's the nature of the work itself, a situation where Satan is in full control. Every brother or sister in the Lord I met who worked in information security was always half-crazy. The smart ones couldn't wait to get out of that work.
When communications leave private hands, when a third party gets involved in any way at all, the warfare begins. There's no way you can keep private communications private unless it remains totally in your control the whole way through. So in the New Testament we see trusted couriers carrying the letters that eventually become parts of the Bible. We are also quite certain that some of the letters mentioned were lost. For example, we know that Paul's Corinthian Letters are two of four. Lost communications is one thing; stolen communications is another.
The biggest threat to the gospel message isn't that humans can prevent the gospel. They cannot, though they try. The State is particularly hostile to the gospel by it's very nature. However, a bigger threat for us is having the message perverted. In technology, the threat is how someone could change the message before it gets to the recipient.
One of the biggest efforts in Open Source software development is creating trustworthy software that helps you exclude third parties. It's the nature of the Internet itself that anything crossing the wires has to have a publicly readable TO and FROM address, as it were. If any and every machine along the path cannot see that much, the data goes nowhere. But the contents can be encrypted, and there's a whole system in place that is mostly invisible to us with the purpose of keeping some portion of our activities private. The whole trick with Open Source is that, if you know how software works, you can check for yourself what it's doing. The idea was to build a community of experts who would want to find or write software they could trust for themselves, and when enough of them trust it, you get a much higher trust factor using it for yourself. It's a measured trust by proxy.
There are ways to break into the process, but the Open Source system is about as good as it gets. The alternative always means trusting a third party who remains closed to your inspection. If you've been paying attention, you know by now that virtually every third party has been trying to make money from betraying your trust. Some have made spectacular failures. Others betray your trust and you may never know, because they work even harder keeping that secret than they do keeping your secrets. There's free and open source, and then there's freebies that aren't actually free.
If the pay off is reputation and self-satisfaction, it can be a free and open kind of process. If the pay off is monetary, then the source is always going to make money one way or another. In the latter case, you are the product being sold to third parties. And sometimes they'll charge you and the third party, both.
If you paid the full price for anything to do with computers and software, you probably couldn't afford it. Try buying a good smartphone that isn't tied to any cell provider. Even the OS on the phone will snoop on you. This kind of dirty dealing is the trademark of Internet commerce. The third party is some kind of advertising outfit that then targets and manipulates you based on what they can discern from the "stolen" information. They keep you away from the competing sellers who will offer a better deal. You end up paying in the long run, and you still can't afford it.
The reason you can't afford it is because the data about us is inevitably sold to the State, except when the State simply takes it by force. But most of the time there is an incestuous relationship between Big Business and Big Government. So here we are today with the situation that almost nobody is on our side. You can no longer play off the State and business against each other; they are allies. Laws and policies are seldom based on the common sense of morality or basic human benefit. All of it is aimed at control (bureaucratic convenience) and profit.
And all of this takes place outside the Covenant. Once you are under the Covenant, God is your only friend. And on this earth, you will find precious few people who are allied with God. It's all too easy for the bad guys to only pretend to be under the Covenant. It's all too easy for the good guys to fail. This is where your convictions come in.
The only reliable means of communication with God is through your convictions. It's not a question of the utility of the communication; it's communion regardless of the results. You are committed to pleasing Him, and if your convictions take you to your death, that's where you go. As a friend once told me, "In the Kingdom of Heaven, death is just a circumstance." The world we live in could never understand that. It cannot understand convictions, either.
Jesus warned us that, if we serve Him, this world will be against us. If we allow the social culture to lull us to sleep about whom to trust and why, then you'll never have a clear view of what Jesus was trying to show us. We can't even trust ourselves; our fleshly nature will betray us at every turn. Your own intellect is naturally at war with God. It can be disciplined, but it cannot be redeemed fully, as its nature never changes.
So, we trust the non-Covenant world even less. Everything we encounter is, at best, a disposable tool in Kingdom service. Sometimes it's an outright booby trap. The world does not want us to be otherworldly. So it's not just Big Business or the State that is your enemy; it's the whole world. Even more so, the world serves the Powers of Darkness, such that individual people who work against your divine commitments aren't really the enemy, just disposable tools. Still, in terms of how we operate, a commitment to Christ as Lord makes you their enemy. Get that? They are not your enemy, but you are theirs.
If you understand the nature of things as God revealed them, then you understand how our Enemy is rather consistent. He can be trusted to do things a certain way, because our Father constrains him. The Covenant is a manifestation of those restraints. Once you fully embrace the Covenant, you know what to expect. Outside of the Covenant, all the trust we invest is conditional. If you have any strong attachments outside the Covenant Kingdom, you will pay dearly.
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