The Gospel vs Christian Liberty
“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deceived, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his mercy…” Titus 3:3-5. Any genuine Christian would immediately identify himself with these statements. No doubt conversion is the greatest thing that can take place in a person’s heart. Do you remember that day the Lord touched you and all the burdens of your heart rolled away? Do you remember the joy that filled your heart? You were changed in an instant because of the power of the gospel, that good news which says Christ came to die for your sin. In an instant you were saved by the power of the gospel from foolishness, deception and various passions and pleasures. Surely the gospel is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes. And the liberty it brings is surely for us to enjoy. However, a lot of Christians have misused this freedom and injured the furtherance of the gospel.
Does it mean if you are saved then you are at Liberty to do anything you want? Yes, no and not always. Yes you are if God does not forbid it. No you are not if God says it is sin. How about the "not always or not at any time?" Where does this fit in? This is actually the major point of contention and where a lot of believers injure the furtherance of the gospel. Many say “if Scripture is not clear about it then just go ahead and do it after all you have been liberated.” You will agree that God’s desire is that lost souls may be saved. If you don’t agree with that then God have mercy on you. Surely God has souls he knows need to hear this message of forgiveness of sin. God wants the lost to also come to a point where they can say “Oh! what a wonderful, wonderful day, day I will never forget; after I had wondered in darkness away, Jesus my savior I met.” But do you know one thing that hinders them from reaching that point? It is because we as Christians misunderstand and misuse our Christian liberty. There are certain things that are in of themselves not wrong to do but could have an effect on the way the lost soul responds to the gospel. There are some grey areas in Scripture. Talk of the kind of dress, the kind of music, the kind of dance, the kind of hair style, the kind of entertainment and so on and so forth. Many types of these things may not necessarily be wrong. However, these things may be a stumbling block to a person seated next to you or someone you invite into your home. That same person may not be a Christian. What am I driving at here? It is this; let us be careful not to fall in to sin and not to hinder the furtherance of the gospel as a result of the liberty that Christ has given us. It’s like Paul says that “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” Galatians 5:13.
|If it means painting our faces for the sake of the gospel then lets paint them|
You will notice that in the book of 1 Corinthians 8-10 the apostle Paul is addressing the issue of food offered to idols. When you read all three chapters you will find him saying that the mature Christian must show his maturity by serving the weak and the lost in order that he might win them. Yes there is liberty but that should not be the issue. Look at what he says at the end of chapter nine. The issue is that there are times when you will be required to endure or sacrifice that liberty for the sake of the gospel. Read a part of it for yourself. It says, “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings” 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. What more can I say? The great apostle Paul has nailed it on the head. In the same chapter you find he mentioned that he was at liberty to demand a payment (salary) from the work he was doing as an apostle among the Corinthians but chose not do so for the sake of the gospel. He says he was also at liberty to get a wife but did not do so for the sake of the gospel.
You know why many Christians fail to appreciate this principle? It is because they are driven by knowledge and not love. In this context we can say there is no love for lost souls in their hearts. This is the exact principle Paul meant in 1 Corinthians 8:1 when he said “…knowledge puffs up but love edifies.” The latter part of the passage referred to earlier on in Galatians says “… but through love serve one another.” All other reasons fall under this one. If love for lost souls is not present then you will be self-centered. If love for lost souls is not in you then you will not be ready to sacrifice certain liberties for the sake of the gospel. Others I may say, and you are free to disagree with me, are not just saved. Are you willing to give up your freedom for the sake of a lost soul or weaker brother?