Today we’re going to begin a study on what I believe is a very important spiritual theme. The theme is “Christian Freedom.” We must understand what the Bible teaches about being free in Christ. Our Lord said, “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free for real.”
Now, what does it mean to be free? Paul the apostle says, “We are no longer bound by dietary laws. We are no longer bound
We are free in Christ. We are no longer under the law, he says. But free to do what? What are the limitations? What are the boundaries? What are the parameters of our freedom in Christ?
Many today are abusing this. Some are not even using what is theirs in freedom in Christ. Find out what God says about it by staying with us as we study today.
What is Christian freedom? Now that is a really important question. What is Christian freedom? And I think there were a
John 8:30, “And as Jesus was speaking these words,” – and marvelous words they were about who He was, He said – “as He spoke these words,” – said John – “many believed on Him. Then said Jesus to those Jews who believed
Now notice, first of all, that freedom is a result of truth. You take a guy – and this is the way I’ve usually illustrated this – you take a guy who’s got a very, very complex math problem, and he’s got this assignment that he’s got to turn in to his professor the next day, and he’s in an
And let’s say he comes to the conclusion, and he gets an answer, and he goes back and checks his answer and it’s wrong; he’s still a slave. About 3:00 in the morning he gets an answer, and he goes and checks it about five ways and it’s right; he’s free, right? He’s only free when he discovered the truth, that’s all.
You see, freedom is a result of knowing the truth. There is no freedom apart from knowing the
You see, their legalism, they were satisfying themselves in the fact that they were working out a problem instead of being satisfied with an answer. And, of course, they said, “We are Abraham’s seed, and we’re never in bondage to any man. How sayest, ‘Thou you shall be made free’?
“Oh, really? Huh. Have you forgotten that you were slaves to Egypt, slaves to the Babylonians, slaves to the Greeks, slaves now currently to the Romans?” “We were never slaves to anybody.” “Check again.” And then Jesus said, “Worst of all” – verse 34 – “Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever commits sin is the” – what? – “slave of sin. You’re a slave to sin.”
You see, as long as you sin, you sin, you sin, you never get a solution, so you never get free from the bondage of sin. When the solution to sin comes, sin’s power is broken, sin is forgiven, you’re free. The problem is solved.
Isn’t that really what contributes to Christian peace. I mean, if you stop and think about it, what is the greatest thing to know about as a Christian? It is to know that you’re free from the consequences of what? Sin. You’re free.
So first of all, Christian freedom has to do with finding the truth in Jesus Christ and being liberated. But taking it a step further than that, how far does our freedom go as Christians? There’s a lot in the New Testament about Christian liberty and about what Christians are free to do.
You know, some people have taken this idea of freedom and just gone crazy with it. “Well, I’m saved. And, boy, the Lord’s going to take care of me, so I’ll just do what I want to do.” I heard one man who said – I think it was a week before last – he said, “So what if I do wrong. The Lord’s forgiven me in the past, He’ll forgive me again.”
So you see, what is the boundaries of Christian liberty? Are we free? Listen, 1 Corinthians says, “All things are lawful.” Did you know that? You say, “Where is it? That’s my life verse, I’ve got to find that one. Where is it?” I’m not going to tell you.
Chapter 6: “All things are lawful, but all things aren’t expedient.” There’s got to be a boundary. “All things are lawful, but I’ll not be brought under the power of any.” Where does Christian liberty fit into this thing? Just how free are we? Well, I want you to know something exciting, Romans 6.
In Romans 6:14 it says, “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you’re not under the law but under grace.” So you’ve been freed from sin.
“In what sense? Are you saying that as a Christian I never sin? Is that true?” Some people say, “Well, as Christians, Romans says we’re free from the law. We have been made free from sin. That means that sin doesn’t bother us anymore.” I’ve actually heard that preached, that we have been made free from sin. Sin doesn’t bother us. Listen, when you became a Christian sin will bother you a lot more than it did before you were saved.
Being free from sin doesn’t mean you’re free from the actuality of it, it means you’re free from the penalty of it, you’re free from the wages of it. Why? Because you died with Christ.
How many times can a person die? Once. And when sin comes to me and
You see, that is the death: I died in Christ when I gave Him my life. I was buried, right? That’s Romans 6. And I rose, and I walk in newness of life. I’ve paid the penalty in Jesus Christ by my union with Him. Sin has no claims on me; sin can’t touch me. I still sin, it just has no ultimate penalty.
I’ll tell you something else: I don’t sin that grace may abound; God forbid. So we’re free from the power of sin, we’re free from the wages of sin, free from the penalty of sin.
Now I want to take this freedom to Romans 14 and 15, because here, you see, you ran into another area. How free are Christians?
You know, some people say, “Well, we’re Christians. Man, we’ve got liberty, we can do what we want to do.” And these are the same people that are always saying that you shouldn’t feel guilty for anything, you just do what you want to do.
And you know, you’ve even got people who claim to be Christians and claim so much freedom that they can have sexual relationships outside of marriage, and they can just about do anything they want without any theological problems. Believe me, they don’t escape
Now let me just say this
But there are some other things that go along with it. It says, for example, in 1: “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believes that he may eat all things, another who’s weak eats only herbs.” You’ve got some people who eat meat and others who are vegetarians. “Let not him that eats despise him that eats not, let not him who eats not judge him that eats, for God’s received them.” In other words, the big issues
Listen, a Jew became a Christian and he went over to a Gentile’s house and they had roast pork. Well, he got apoplexy, he couldn’t handle that. And oftentimes the Gentile was just sticking in and turning it, you know, saying, “Hey, we’re free fella, you know, have a little pork.” “Ooh, ooh, ooh,” see. I mean, he couldn’t handle that.
You see, too many years, too many years had gone by when he had been circumscribed to the law. Why, in Acts chapter 10, when the Lord came to Cornelius and spoke to him in the sheet and said, “See all those animals there, they’re all clean. Go ahead; rise, Peter, kill and eat.” Peter said, “I have never in my life eaten anything unclean.” And the Lord said to him, “Don’t you dare call unclean what I’ve cleansed.” That was tough for Peter. I imagine the first ham sandwich he ever ate went down hard. Boy.
So you see, there was a freedom there, there was
And he goes further and he says in verse 4, “Who are you that judges another man’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls
When I was a little kid growing up in Philadelphia I could not read the funny paper on Sunday. You know that’s true in some cases now.
You know, there was a choir that came to a church back there where I went to church as a little boy and they sang on a Sunday morning, and in the afternoon some of them went into the drug store to make a phone call, and nobody in the church came back that night to hear them. They had violated the Lord’s Day. Well, there’s no law you can’t make a phone call on Sunday. But you see, they had this little box in which they had it fit everything. And so, some people regard a day above another.
What happened here was some of the Jews were still upholding the Sabbath, and some of the Gentile
But he says, “Look, if he regards a day and regards it to the Lord, and he that regards not the day to the Lord, he doth not regard it. He that
So you’re free, you’re free to do whatever you want. “Ah,” you say, “I like that; free to do whatever I want.” Yeah, all things are lawful. “Hmm.”
There’s a second principle.
Hey, maybe I think I am free to do all those things, but maybe if I didn’t do them I might be more loving toward my weaker brother who doesn’t yet understand his liberties. Do you see? There are some gray areas where these things apply.
“I know and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus” – Paul says – “that there is nothing unclean of itself.” Boy, that is a very interesting statement. Now watch, “Things are not evil of themselves.”
“Is money evil?” No. No. “Is the fruit that comes from the tree from the vine from the grape evil?” No, it’s just fruit that comes from the grape. You say, “But it gets alcoholic.” Who gave it the property that caused it to get that way? You say, “Well that was somehow in the creation.” Well, maybe it was in the fall, but it’s here; but it isn’t evil.
You see, it isn’t the fruit of the grape that creates the problem, it’s the guy who imbibes the fruit of the grape that is the problem. The thing of itself is not the problem. You see, things are not unclean, things are neutral things
This summer when we went to Israel and they didn’t have any grape juice, and we had to have real live wine at the tomb of our Lord. And I know that there were people and other groups were going, “Oh, Martha. Ooh, ooh, see?” you know. “Can we? Can we dare? Do we?”
The thing of itself is nothing, it is the Communion we were celebrating of our blessed Lord. I mean, if you happen to be in a land where there’s no Welches, you make due, right? I mean, it really isn’t that big of a deal. You see, it isn’t the thing itself, it is
“There’s nothing unclean of itself, but to him that esteemeth it to be unclean, to him it is unclean.” In other words, if he’s determined it in his mind, the best thing for him to do is avoid it. There’s no sense in violating your conscience. And if you haven’t matured to the place where you understand that freedom, don’t violate your conscience.
Ah, but verse 15, “If your brother is grieved with your food, you’re not walking in love. Destroy not him with your food for whom Christ died. Let not your good be evil spoken of; for the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
Then he says in verse 19, “Let us
Listen, he doesn’t say it’s evil to drink wine; no, he doesn’t. I know
What it does say is, “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine, or anything that will make your brother stumble, be offended, or be made weak.” The reason the Bible doesn’t say it’s evil to drink wine is
You say, “But don’t you think it’s a sin to drink wine?” Listen, friends, the sin is to violate the conscience of a weaker brother, the sin is to depreciate your testimony; that’s the sin. And if any of those things make my brother stumble, then I will not do those things. The thing in itself is nothing, but the thing becomes
You know, some people can say, “Well, I’m free in Christ, I can do what I want. I can carry on
In verse 1 of chapter 15, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.” In other words, you know, “Even if you have the liberty to do some things, don’t do them, just to take care of the weaker brother.”
“Let every one of us please his neighbor.” Who’s the example? I love this, verse 3: “For Christ pleased not Himself.” Christ didn’t do the things that He wanted to do always but the things that He knew would be good for man.”
So what are the principles? You’re free, don’t give an offense, maintain a clear conscience before God; this is God’s standard. Yes, as a Christian you’re free, that’s
Now let me pursue this just a little further. Someone asked this question, and this came in last Lord’s Day, and I’m just reading the question as it was: “Please give some of the basics for Christian living; for instance, the scriptural viewpoint on dancing, drinking, smoking, and miniskirts, et cetera.”
Let me add to this, and I want to add to this lovingly, and yet I want to answer it pointedly. Dancing, drinking, smoking, and miniskirts are not the basics of Christian living; I mean that. They are not the basics of Christian living. Do you know there are some very good Mormons who don’t do any of those things and will spend eternity in hell; that’s right.
Now listen to this. There are many people, and I mean good people, Christian people, who mean well, who base their entire spiritual life on what they do not do. Did you know that? “We don’t smoke, and we don’t chew, and we don’t go with girls that do,” you know, rooty-toot-toot, see. “We’re the boys from the institute, see.” In other words, their entire orientation toward spirituality is what they don’t do. And you know something;
Beloved, I tell you, let me tell you this: if you’re going around and you’ve got your thumb in your mouth and you got your security blanket and you’re tickling your nose with what you don’t do, I’d like to take your blanket away and make you face the issue that your spirituality is not a matter of what you don’t do.
You say, “Are you saying it’s right to dance, drink, smoke, and wear a miniskirt?” I didn’t say that. The Bible doesn’t say it’s right or wrong to do those things. The Bible doesn’t talk about those things in that context. But I believe this: I believe that if you walk in the Spirit, the Spirit of God will take care of
And I’m not advocating all these things. Listen, I have very strong convictions about what’s right and what’s wrong
But the reason I don’t do those things has nothing to do with what I think the standards of the Christian life are, it has to do with what I think my testimony must be before other believers. When you go around and you start evaluating people’s spirituality by what they don’t do, you’re really sitting in the wrong seat doing the wrong thing on the wrong basis.
People say to me so often, “Do you think it’s a sin to smoke?” Of
Listen, the Bible doesn’t say anything about it. If you want to put leaves in your mouth and set them on fire, that’s – you know. I mean, I heard one fellow say one time, “Who likes to lean down and kiss a girl and smell a camel?” you know. But I’m being facetious. But the Bible doesn’t say, “Don’t do that.”
I’ll tell you what the Bible does say. It does say, “Don’t gossip. Don’t backbite.” And the Bible does say, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” If you begin on that principle maybe smoking will take care of itself.
But you see what I’m saying is people don’t do all these little things, and they kid themselves into thinking that that’s
Let me give you a little thought. Do you know the Bible talks about walking in the Spirit in the New Testament? This is a key to the Christian life. Do you believe the Holy Spirit can guide your life? Do you believe that we need to have a big thing here in Grace Church that says, “We don’t, we don’t, we don’t, we don’t, we don’t.” All we need to say is this: “We do walk in the Spirit.”
You know, at our house I don’t have a sign in the kitchen that says, “Do not beat your wife. Do not maim the children.” I do not. You know why? I love my wife, I love my children; that precludes the necessity for the rule.
Listen, when the apostle Paul wrote Romans 13 he said this: “Loving the Lord and loving your neighbor is the fulfillment of all” – what? – “the law.” So you see, the artificial standard of spirituality is the list of what we don’t do. The true spirituality is walking in the Spirit and letting the Spirit convict us of the things the Spirit wants to convict us of; that’s His business.
Now I’m talking about gray area things. Of
You know, kids always say to me, “Do you think it’s a sin to dance?” And you know it’s an interesting thing. I said to this group of kids this week, I said, “You
But you see, there’s the artificial standard of spirituality: “We don’t do this. Oh, but we do,” see? But that isn’t covered in the list.
It’s very obvious to me, people, that for somebody to flop on somebody else and wander around a floor with moody music playing is not conducive to spiritual growth; that’s very apparent. I don’t need a rule on that, the Holy Spirit told me that very simply; I understand that very clearly. And I realize too that a person’s clothing and how they dress is usually a revelation of the depth of their spirituality. But don’t let your dress become your standard of spirituality.
You see, Jesus said in John 15, “Hereby is
Now, watch. The result of attitude fruit is action fruit. if you do action fruit without attitude fruit, that’s legalism – did you get that? – because you’re cranking it out in the flesh. If you walk in the Spirit, the Spirit produces the right attitude that’s producing the right behavior. If you’re just out there subscribing to some code bypassing the attitude, that’s legalism.
Now mark it: the legalists and the truly liberated, godly, Spirit-filled Christian may do the very same things. One does them in response to the Holy Spirit, the other
Well, this is an important issue. And I don’t think that you want to ever get in the place where you evaluate your spirituality by what you don’t do. Very, very dangerous.
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