Christian Liberty

Differentiating Holiness from Legalism

"ask nearly anyone to define what legalism actually is, and the explanation quickly gets vague. The old joke is that legalism is anything to the right of me! Worldliness is anything to my left. Unfortunately, in real life that’s often the actual, nebulous scale by which Christians gauge one another’s holiness." - Minnick

 

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What to Do With Christmas Trees, Halloween, Meat Offered to Idols, and New Year’s Celebrations

"What are Christians to do with practices, symbols, parties, and customs we find in a culture? Here are three options when it comes to how we treat and respond to something in the culture." - Geiger

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How to Disagree Nicely but Not Lose Your Convictions

"... convictions are firmly held moral or religious beliefs that guide our beliefs, actions, or choices. This shuts out beliefs we have about matters of taste (not moral), and it also shuts out beliefs we hold but are happy to disregard or ignore (they don’t guide our actions)." - CToday

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Live Free: Our Liberty to Obey

In the historical drama about the American Revolutionary War, The Patriot, a slave named Occam is signed up for the militia in place of his enslaver, who is too cowardly to fight himself. Occam goes to war because he has been forced to. He is thrust into duty. But the sub-plot thickens.

Occam later discovers that General George Washington has issued a declaration that promises freedom to any man who fights in the militia for one year. As soon as he discovers this, his attitude changes to one of determination and hope for freedom. His racist comrades assume that as a reluctant conscript Occam will quit fighting for the cause as soon as he gains his freedom. However, after fighting for a full year, the warrior is granted his freedom, and for the first time, he has the choice to do as he pleases. His shows his mettle when he chooses to remain in his fighting unit, of his own volition, fighting for the cause as a compatriot, not as a slave.

In a similar way, Christians choose to submit to governing authorities, but not because we are forced to. Our volition is driven by a deeper motive.

Previously, we saw that all human authority is actually delegated divine authority and that when we submit to governance, we acknowledge God’s prerogative to place them over us. We trust God to do his will for us, through them, and that God will bring about his justice in the end. Today we will consider…

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“Offend”–That Word Might Not Mean What You Think It Means

"We must take great care that we do not sin against one another and that we do not place stumbling blocks in the way of others. However, our discipleship obligations to one another require that we say hard, uncomfortable, and sometimes emotionally distressing things to one another." - P&D

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Understanding Christian Liberty

Christian liberty can be a thorny issue. Some sincere Christians fail to recognize this category at all. They have an opinion about nearly everything and endeavor to impose their conclusions upon others, treating each issue as if it is a Christian duty. To fail to submit to their understanding is, in their minds, to sin. They have little regard for Christians who do not hold the same opinion as themselves.

On the other hand, there are Christians who erroneously place practices the Bible calls sin into the category of Christian liberty. To them, Christian liberty means license to do whatever one pleases. They become the sole arbiter of their own behavior, and if anyone dares to label their errant practices sinful, they declare that they believe in Christian liberty, and no one has the right to judge another’s behavior. With such confusion abounding, it may be helpful to examine Biblical teaching about Christian liberty. The Apostle Paul deals with this subject in 1 Corinthians chapters eight and ten, as well as the fourteenth chapter of the book of Romans. I will confine myself to 1 Corinthians ten for this article.

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“In my nearly 4 decades of ministry I’ve seen too many families torn apart, marriages disintegrate, children hurt, and untold damage caused because of the exercise of this 'freedom in Christ'”

"I am not a prohibitionist. I believe that efforts to classify wine in the Bible as grape juice border on the silly. People drank alcoholic beverages and the Bible does not call that sin." - I Hate Alcohol

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Christian Liberty and Love

The Apostle Paul responds to questions from the Corinthians in his first epistle. Chapter seven addresses concerns about marriage, and chapter eight with eating meat offered to idols. Although idol meat was the question, Paul’s answer leans heavily upon the underlying issue of Christian liberty. Some activities, though not sinful in themselves, should still be avoided because they harm others.

The Corinthians lived in an idolatrous society, and most of the church members were saved out of a pagan background. Much of their former social life involved meals eaten in pagan temples. No wonder, then, that questions relating to idol meat were high on their agenda. Two questions emerge. First, is it right to eat food at home which has been offered to idols, and second, should I refrain from eating at pagan temples? The Apostle Paul addresses both questions.

What We Know

All Christians know the truth about pagan gods, but knowledge can puff us up, which is why we need a generous dose of Christian love to build others up. Knowledge tends to promote overconfidence in ourselves fueling an inflated estimation of our knowledge. Yes, we know something about pagan gods which our neighbors do not, but none of us knows as much as we ought. Knowledge should make us humble, but often instead expands our pride. There is something more important than knowledge, namely love, which causes us to consider others and their needs, not trumpet our superior understanding. May our knowledge always be seasoned with love.

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