Monday, July 21, 2014

Do You Have the Liberty to do that?

My husband preached two excellent sermons the last couple weeks on Christian liberty. You can listen to part 1 here and part 2 here. God used him to bring so much clarity to me in regards to Christian liberty and not judging other Christians on their liberties.

There is a big difference between sin and liberty. Sin is when we deliberately disobey God/scripture. Liberties are more of those gray areas: how we dress, what we watch, what we do with our time, homeschool vs. public school etc. These are areas we have the liberty to decide how we feel led and go forward as long as we are not going against our conscience/conviction. To read more about this from the Word of God read Romans chapter 14 and 1 Corinthians chapter 8 and be sure to listen to my husband's sermon because he lays it out much better than I ever could.

One concern I have is this: can we use our liberties in such a way that we are sinning? Can someone say: "I have the liberty to watch movies." and then watch them all day long and/or watch something that's content is what the bible calls evil? There is nothing in the bible that says: "Don't watch tv all day."


How do we know if we have a liberty to watch certain things or to dress a certain way or to be involved in a certain activity? How do we know when we are crossing the line of living out our freedom in Christ verses when we are abusing that freedom? When asking these questions I can't help but think of these verses:
 

1. "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God--this is your true and proper worship." Rom. 12:1 Is this liberty going to cause you to use your body in a way that is holy and pleasing to God? If not, then you might want to rethink it. 


2. "
walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." Col. 1:10 Does this liberty afford you the opportunity to walk in a manner worthy of your God? Will it please Him in all respects and bear good fruit? Or will it compromise your walk and not please Him?

3. "I have the right to do anything," you say--but not everything is beneficial. "I have the right to do anything"--but I will not be mastered by anything." 1 Cor. 6:12. Another verse almost identical: "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify." 1 Cor. 10:23 Is this liberty beneficial? Does this liberty tend to master you or control you more than you master it or control it? Does it edify or compromise? If it is not beneficial, if it masters and controls you, if it comprises your witness more than it is a means of edifying you might want to reavalutate if this is a liberty Christ would have you participate in

These verses come to mind when I am making decisions on how to spend my time and in what liberties I choose to be involved in. We shouldn't be seeking to live as close to the world as we can while still calling ourselves Christians. We should seek to live a life worthy of Christ and sometimes that means being strange... set apart... different... peculiar...maybe even what many consider "extreme".  


This is how God views us: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9

Many liberties Christians participate in look like the same activities the world participates in. Often times Christians will say they didn't have time to read their bible today but when you find out what they did have time for it is obvious that their liberties are taking priority over their relationship with God, this should never be so. If your Christian liberties are getting in the way of you growing as a Christian you should probably put those liberties aside. 

The idea that someone is "weak" in their faith because they choose not to watch television is silly. The idea that someone is more mature or "stronger" spiritually because they have the "freedom in Christ" to watch lots of television is equally silly.
If someone is choosing to have little to do with the world and worldly entertainment this does not make them weak, it makes them set-apart. It is their way of recognizing that "friendship with the world is enmity with God." (James 4:4) Our homes and lives should look much different than a non-believers home and life. The way we spend our time should look much different than how a non-believer spends their lives. We should be, as Jesus said, about our Father's business and His agenda and His kingdom... not our own. Our liberties should not stand in the way of accomplishing this.

When looking at and praying about how you will spend your time and deciding what liberties you have as a Christian it is my hope and prayer that some of the things I have written will encourage you and give you direction. 
 
I would like to conclude with one of my favorite site's, http://www.gotquestions.org/, thoughts on this subject:
Christian liberty can mean that Christians are freed in respect to such activity that is not expressly forbidden in the Bible. Therefore one can feel free to engage in such activity as long as it doesn't "stumble" or "offend" another Christian (Romans 14:12-16). Most of these activities revolve around social "do's" and "don'ts, such as whether or not to wear certain kinds of clothes, make-up, jewelry, tattoos, piercings, and/or practicing certain things, such as smoking, social drinking, recreational gambling, dancing, or viewing movies or videos. As the passage in Romans 14 says, these things may not be strictly prohibited by God's Word, but they can be bad for one's spiritual growth or Christian testimony and can cause other Christians to stumble.

Furthermore, Christians who tend to vigorously promote such liberties can sometimes fall into a loose lifestyle of undisciplined living, while, on the other hand, Christians who tend to vigorously limit such liberties can sometimes fall into a legalistic lifestyle of being defined by what they are "against." So, it is wise to seek God in prayer and His Word to determine whether or not a particular activity is actually forbidden in Scripture. If it is, it should be avoided. If it is not forbidden, then we should seek to determine how the activity reflects on our reputation as Christians and whether it will help us or hinder us in representing Jesus to unbelievers around us, whether it edifies them or not.

The ultimate goal for the Christian should be to glorify God, edify fellow believers, and have a good reputation before unbelievers
(Psalm 19:14; Romans 15:1-2; 1 Peter 2:11-12). "For you brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another" (Galatians 5:13).