Friday, February 18, 2005

Christian Liberty

As Christians, what are our freedoms? What defines our freedom? Are all things truly permissable?

1 Corinthians 6:12
"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything."

This idea tugs at the first:

1 Corinthians 8:9
"But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak."

The line seems to be that if our liberty causes another to stumble (read: "sin"), then we are sinning (outside the will of God).

How does this manifest itself in Christlike behavior? If we have no problem with one or two beers, should we only abstain when a brother who struggles with alcoholism is present? Or is there a more obedient (less sinful) way? Is it black and white or are there gray areas?

With Paul, sometimes things seem b/w and sometimes there's greyscale. Many of his teachings can seem quixotic. Example: On one hand, we should hold fast to the convictions that we have. On the other hand, we are told to imitate Paul, who was 'all things to all people' so that he could save some. 1 Corinthians 9:22

I believe that the Truth will make us Free. John 8:31-32 But freedom is defined by God, and not ourselves.

I believe that this all points to the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus. If we strive to live by a set of rules, we stink of legalism. If we strive to please our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ out of the motivation of love, then we're getting the picture.

What are your thoughts?

Note: Please back up your opinions with scripture - Thanks!


At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Josh R said...

I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately as well.

I figure that If I am at a friend offers me a beer, it is legal for me to take it. Unless I have an alcoholism temptation it is likely beneficial as well. My fellowship with my friend is strenthened by my acceptance of his gift.

Obstaining from such a gift for the sake of being rightous gives your friend the opinion that your religion is a set of do's and don'ts.

On the other hand, I don't offer gifts of this nature. I would hate to have somebody drink to be social and have alcohol master them. I don't want to be a stumbling block for them.

On the other hand, If my friend tries to expose me to pornography of some sort, I obstain. Why is this different?

I think I obstain because I know what it does to my heart. It is legal for those images to splash against my retinas, but no benefit will come of it. The key word in Matt 5:28 is lustfully. Sin happens in the heart, not in the mouth or the eyes.

At 6:57 AM, Blogger becky z said...

I haven't thought about it that way before. I always thought that by refusing to go along with what my friend is doing i not only provide a good example for him/her but i keep myself from... well, falling into temtation and then into sin. But i guess i have to realize that not every situation is the same. And that by acting "righteous", in that person's view i might be seen as self-righteous. Which is what i don't want.

interesting. Thanks for posting guys.

At 6:57 AM, Blogger becky z said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5:01 PM, Anonymous Brian said...

The discussion of idols in 1 Corinthians 8 is the critical factor for our decision to abstain from food sacrificed to idols. I also want to draw attention to the conscience (mentioned in vss 7, 10, and 12) as the part of us which recognizes right from wrong. As a human being, I am responsible to live by faith and according to my conscience.
Paul sets up the following conflict:
1) I have a strong conscience by which I know that idols are nothing and that delicious, juicy steak grilled over at "Apollo's Grill and Temple" is just food.
2) My brother has a weak conscience, and he still believes that idols are something.
So when I eat, I give thanks to God for the delicious, juicy, steak. But if my brother eats, he believes that he is honoring this idol, an act which he knows violates the first commandment. So he violates his conscience - what he believes to be right.
So if someone who still believes that idols are something sees me eating and thinks that I am honoring an idol, he will be encouraged to honor the idol too.
Here is the crux: This will put him in a crisis of faith (verse 11) and may destroy his faith!
If he honors a god other than God, how can he claim to believe in the *only* true God.
So perhaps we are in error if we apply this passage to any "legalistic sin" such as playing cards or drinking wine. This may apply only to idols.

At 12:47 AM, Anonymous Joann said...

I think it's okay to abstain from certain things out of respect for the other person. For an example, if I like to eat cake, cookies, and other sugary foods but my friend is either diabetic or on a strict, no-sugar diet to lose weight, I'm not going to eat these foods in front of them and tempt them into making themselves sick or to cheat on their diet. That would be rude, and sometimes even dangerous. However, I guess we still need to be careful about the way we choose to abstain if it makes the other person feel as though we are somehow being legalistic and not righteous, huh?


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