CHRISTIAN LIBERTY  


 

1. Christian liberty involves:

A. Freedom from the rituals of the Mosaic law.
    Sacrifices, offerings, Sabbath, tithing. Col. 2:16
    “Let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in
      respect to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath day.”

B. Freedom from the dietary code of the Mosaic law.
    1 Timothy 3:3-5, “foods which God has created to be gratefully
     shared in by those who know and believe the truth. For
     everything created by God is good and nothing to be rejected if it
     is received with grace thankfulness.”

2. Summary of Christian liberty from 3 passages:
Romans 14:1-15:7; 1 Corinthians 8; 1 Corinthians 10:23-33

   A. Romans 14:1-15:7
        1. Verse 1 exhorts us to unity by receiving the weak believer,
        but not for the purpose of arguing and disputing and ridiculing
        their weaknesses.
        2. The weak believer is one who has not grown in The Faith. It is one who has not been taught or
            has not accepting good doctrinal instruction.
        3. In this case, the weakness is thinking that abstinence from eating meat is a basis for greater favor
            with God.
        4. The strong believer is not to despise or judge the weak believer or ridicule him for his weakness.
            This believer understands the doctrine of Christian liberty, but can still be tempted to be
             judgmental.

        5. The weak believer does not understand this doctrinal truth and therefore bases his Christian life
             on false issues.

        6. No believer has any business judging another believer. This is God’s prerogative only. However,
            proper discernment and attempts to instruct the weaker believer in the right attitude are proper
            and to be expected by the informed believer.

        7. Verses 5-9 deal with the strong believer who has personal preferences in life. Each believer is to
            be fully confident about his personal choices and taboos for living. But such choices and taboos
            must not be imposed upon others.

        8. One believer chooses not to eat meat and he is free to do so according to the law of liberty.
            Another believer chooses to eat meat and he also is free to do so according to the law of liberty.

        9. However, neither one is to use that choice as a basis for finding favor with God or for judging the
            other believer.

       10. So all believers can serve and please God equally regardless of their choices to do or not do
            various things in life.

       11. Personal taboos are never the issue. The issue is that whether we are alive here on earth or dead
             in the presence of the Lord, we belong to Him and are responsible for fulfilling His purpose for
             our existence.

       12. Verses 10ff then pick up again with the strong vs. the weak believer. According to verses 4 and
             10-12, we have no business judging another believer, because all of us are responsible for our
              own activities and will stand before the reward seat of Christ to receive evaluation of those
              activities. At that time, Christ will judge and reward according to our works – without any help
              from us.
           See Topic: reward seat of Christ

       13. Therefore, we should not be judging each other but be constantly on the alert for demonstrating
              love and grace to others.

       14. Everything that is not forbidden in the word of God is permitted to believers. But if a believer is
             weak in knowledge of bible truth, and thinks that something is forbidden, then to him it is
             viewed as a sinful activity.

       15. If such weak believer sees you do something that he thinks is sin AND judges you for it, YOUR
             activity then becomes a cause of that person’s sin.

       16. Obviously, this is done with YOUR knowledge of the weaker believer’s viewpoint. In such a
             case, you are not living according to the law of love and likewise are guilty of sin.

       17. Do not cause the weaker believer to sin by your adherence to the law of liberty, but failure to
             walk in love. This will be sinfulness to you and conflicts between believers brings criticism
             upon the Christian church.

       18. The real issue in the Christian life is not what we DO or NOT do. It is righteousness, peace and
             true happiness through the ministry of the Holy Spirit working in the believer’s life.

       19. When we maintain our fellowship with God and walk according to the principle of love, we not
              only please God, but provide a witness to others of the real nature of Christianity.

       20. Therefore, the issue in our use of liberty is to pursue the things that make for peace; harmony
              and unity, and the edification of one another. We attempt to teach knowledge to the weaker
              believer.

       21. By our use of Christian liberty without the application of love, we can “destroy” the weaker
             believer by causing him to get out of fellowship with God.

       22. We have liberty to do anything that is not directly forbidden by the word of God, but when we
              do it and it causes the weak believer to sin, then it becomes sin for us as well.

       23. It is good (right and proper) to do NOTHING that causes the weak believer to sin.

       24. Verses 22-23 emphasize the principle that the believer is to have absolute confidence concerning
              the activities permitted by the doctrine of Christian liberty. If there is doubt about what you are
              doing, then that doubt becomes sin if you do the activity.
              So if you have no confidence in what the word of God teaches and you think a particular
              activity is forbidden, then don’t do it – “for whatever is not according to faith (or confidence) is
              sin.”

       25. Our obligation as believers walking according to love, is to remove the weaknesses of the weak
              believer. This is done through  teaching that believer what the Word of God proclaims about
              our Christian liberty.

       26. We are to seek the benefit (what is spiritually best) for the weaker believer FIRST, and then our
              own spiritual benefit.   We do this in two ways:

               a. We desist from doing the activity that offends the weaker believer.
               b. We teach the doctrine of Christian liberty for his edification.

       27. Christ is our example in this principle of walking according to love. When He died on the cross,
             He died FOR US, putting OUR spiritual benefit first and His own spiritual benefit last.

       28. The whole thrust of this passage is to promote unity among believers through the teaching and
             application of bible truth. This then promotes maximum service to God & glorification of Christ.

       29. The conclusion: Receive one another in the sphere of true Christian love – putting others before
             yourself. This is done by teaching them. The only way they can gain confidence concerning the
             freedom we have through Christian liberty is to teach God’s word. It is their deficiency of
             knowing bible truth that causes lack of confidence and doubts.

 B. 1 Corinthians 8

    1. Knowledge of bible truth without the application of beneficent love is a source of soul distortion.   
        Pride, selfishness, indifference to others.

    2. Knowledge with the application of beneficent love is the source of edification.

       a. The filling of the Spirit – fellowship and love produces growth.

       b. The application of love and our knowledge of bible truth helps others to grow.

    3. The believer who assumes to have knowledge and does not express beneficent love is actually
        deficient of truth and is out of fellowship with God.

    4. The believer who is in fellowship with God, walking in the Spirit, has the capacity to enjoy true
         peace and joy as the character of Christ is manifested in his life and he expresses beneficent love.

    5. There are many activities that are not specifically forbidden to the believer by God’s word. Down
        through history some of these things have been considered non-spiritual or sinful things by those
        who do not understand the doctrine of Christian liberty.

    6. Such believers who consider one or more of these activities to be spiritually “off limits” and sinful,
        when actually they are not, are said to have a weak conscience.

        a. The conscience is the element of the heart (mentality) that contains a person’s norms and
            standards that determine one’s manner of life.

        b. A weak conscience is one that is deficient of divine viewpoint which is the basis for proper
            norms and standards.

        c. Such a conscience contains false criteria for conducting one’s Christian life; false standards that
            are not found in the bible.

        d. The weak believer sets up a system of false taboos to which he holds himself & other Christians.

    7. Verse 8 indicates that these unmentioned activities have no significance whatever in determining
        one’s relationship with God in regard to either salvation or fellowship.

    8. The believer who knows the principle of verse 8, is to be alert that he does not cause a weak
        believer (who does not know the principle) to stumble (be offended, judgmental or even to engage
        in the activity himself). In either case it amounts to sin for the weak believer.

    9. If a weak believer sees you doing one of these false taboos and –

        a. You know he is weak in that area.
        b. You know he is watching you.

    - then it is your responsibility to –

        a. Discontinue that activity.

        b. Provide doctrinal instruction to help the weak believer.

   10. Two reasons are stated.

        a. The weak believer will be tempted to judge and thus sin.

        b. The weak believer will be tempted to do the activity and later feel guilty because of his weak
            conscience, which is also sin.

   11. When this happens we are guilty of sin because we have neglected our responsibility to walk in
          love.

   12. The principle is: If something causes my brother to sin, then I will not do that activity with that
          believer’s knowledge. Verse 13.

   13. The law of love supersedes my own desires, wants and activities. However, I personally believe
          that if proper instruction has been given and the weak believer refuses to accept it, then I am
          released from the rigidity of that law. In other words, I need not go out of my way to AVOID
          doing something that might offend that weak believer. But likewise, I will not abuse my liberty by
          purposely challenging that weak believer.

C. 1 Corinthians 10:23-33

    1. The doctrine of Christian liberty states that all things are permissible to the believer which are not
        specifically forbidden by the word of God.
    2. But not all things are beneficial. Not all things promote edification.
    3. One issue in applying the doctrine of liberty is to seek the benefit of others before your own
        benefit.

    4. Don’t make an issue of someone’s activity or your own, when that activity is a bona-fide activity,
        and definitely not an issue in spiritual matters.

    5. When dealing with an unbeliever, do not make an issue of that person’s activities that are not
        forbidden in the bible. And of course, when dealing with salvation, the only issue is faith in Christ.

    6. If the unbeliever makes an issue of some activity that his conscience thinks is wrong, and
       challenges you for it, desist and move the conversation back to the issue of faith in Christ.

    7. As believers, through grace, we have liberty to do many things that the world (and even other
        believers) may deem to be sinful. We should not allow our Christian life and Christianity in general
        to be criticized through our misuse of our liberty.

    8. Therefore, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. That means to seek the benefit and
        promotion of God’s plan at all times.

    9. The principle of verse 24 applies to both believers and unbelievers. “Let no one seek his own
        benefit, but the benefit of the other person.”

   10. Our attitude should be as Paul’s was. Always seek the benefit of the other person before your own.

        a. To believers so that they can be built up and grow spiritually.

        b. To unbelievers so that the issue of salvation will remain focused on faith in Christ and not on any
            side issues. 2 Cor. 2:2

            “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
 

 
 

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