Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christian liberty

I was wondering about the Christian’s liberty, as I want to fully understand what grace implies in the practical outworking in my life.  I grew up in a church that is very adamant about the Christian working to please god, whether it is street preaching or church attendance or attending every ministry of the church.  At the same time they preach about not doing anything worldly and sinful, like movies, TV, etc.  I'm not saying I want to do any of these or advocate sinning, but what liberty does a Christian have to do what he wants?  I also heard (or thought I heard) you say that drinking alcohol is not wrong or something to that effect, could you explain?  I am not one to drink, as I have come to the conclusion from scripture it is something I shouldn't do, but I am curious what you have to say.

This question is truly one that is near and dear to my heart. I say that because the struggle that I have seen the most as a minister as I deal with other saints, specifically those who come from a religious legalistic denominational background, is the one of their liberty that they have in Christ! So I write this answer with a passion to have this truth communicated effectively to both you and those who will read it in the future. I am saddened that other so-called ministers do not minister this most important and central truth of God's unlimited grace to their people.

When it comes to the discussion of Christian liberty, we must first define the word, as the word liberty can be a relative one in the minds of some. So for the purposes of this study, we will define liberty the way that God's word does, and ultimately that is all that matters.

Liberty, in God's word through Paul is always associated with the freedom that we have in and through our Lord Jesus Christ and his finished work on the Cross. And that freedom can be summed up as freedom from sin, freedom from the Law (performance-based acceptance system/guilt before God, and freedom to serve)!

Galatians 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage [Law].

Here in Galatians, our Apostle is fighting for the truth of God's Grace! He is withstanding with every ounce of his being to keep the Galatians from going back under the Law/performance-based acceptance system. He has taught them that they are free from the bondage of the Law, and in Romans 6 that we are also free from sin....this is true liberty.

Romans 6:1-7
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?  Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin. 

So, that is it!  When we talk about Christian liberty, it is that God set us free from sin and the law and free to serve...

Galatians 5:13-14
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. ...For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

And there it is...Christian liberty is defined as serving one another in love in the Pauline Grace message. Christian liberty is using your time, talents, and treasure to get this message into you and others. That's it!

Galatians 6:2
 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

As far as personal freedom (everyday choices) it is just that, personal! Paul makes it clear that when it comes to how a man lives before God it is between them and God—barring a sin revealed in God's Word through Paul. Whether eating, drinking (including alcohol*—Paul never prohibits its use in moderation [Ephesians 5:18]...but he even prescribes it for medicinal purposes [1 Tim 5:23]), observing days, etc.  It's not for me to put my convictions on you, and not for you to put your convictions on me.

(*NOTE:  God actually commands Israel to have wine, etc. during their feast days!

Deuteronomy 14:22-26
Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always. And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose; And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth; and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,)

2 Corinthians 1:24
Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.

We are to live life knowing that we are free, and yet allowing the truth of that liberty to be our "governor."

Titus 2:11-12
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world

We play it out in our lives as Paul says in 1 Corinthains....

1 Corinthians 6:12
All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

You are allowed to do anything (except sin, as laid out in Paul's epistles), as long as that thing does not take control over you!

1 Corinthians 10:23
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

You are allowed to do anything, as long as that thing is edifying to you/your brethren.

But it takes time to work all this out in your life, and God is not in a hurry, and neither should we be...with ourselves and with others! Focus on taking in the Word of His Grace and He will do it in you!

Acts 20:32
And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.

1 Thessalonians 2:13
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

Phiippiansl 2:13
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. 

Galatians 5:5
 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

We can share them with each other, but we must give each other the freedom to make our own choices before God! That's how God deals with us...that's grace!

Romans 14:1-6
Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth; for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up; for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another; another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

Our job is to not put any stumbling blocks or things that will not be edifying in our brother's path.

Romans 14:13-23
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of; For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

1 Corinthians 8:6-13
But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.  But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

1 Corinthians 10:23-33
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient; all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not. Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth. Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof. If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake. But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience? For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks? Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

Colossians 2:16-23
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

1 Timothy 4:1-6
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.


Galatians 5:13-14
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another....For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

So whether it is smoking, drinking, eating, marrying, divorcing, TV, radio (you can use media to spread the truth, so it is stupid for people to say not to watch TV!  It's not the TV, but what you watch on it! Do it all to the glory of God! 

1 Corinthians 10:31
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

Hopefully this helps!


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