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Liberty in Christ
and Practical Applications
in Christ: Extended Introduction
Liberty in Christ: Introduction
and New Testament Survey
for Liberty in Christ
the Law, and the 10 Commandments
of the Law of Liberty
and Yet Prohibition
Pagan Practices in the Old Testament
is Observing Times?
Bondage, and Righteousness
and Meat Sacrificed to Idols
and 1 Corinthians 8
1 Corinthians 10, and Idolatry
1 Corinthians 10, and Your Neighbor
and Practical Applications
Romans 14, the Conscience, and Morality
about practical applications? After all, what does this have
to do with Christians living today?
As we stated above, many Christians read some of Paul's words
from these passages on eating meat sacrificed to idols and
by taking selected statements out of their context, they conclude
that as a general rule "all things are lawful for Christians"
in the sense that Christians are no any law of any kind. Believing
that Christians are no longer under any law and that "all
things are lawful" for us to do, these Christians go on to
assert that we have liberty in a great variety of areas and
that our liberty in those areas is governed only by what our
own conscience is comfortable with. And, because they believe
that this is what the New Testament means by "liberty in Christ,"
these Christians go on to believe that no one else, including
other Christians, has a right to judge or speak evil of what
they "in liberty" partake of "by grace."
The result of this kind of reading of Paul's words regarding
meat sacrificed to idols is that it creates a moral standard
in Christianity that what is morally acceptable for me may
or may not be morally acceptable for you, that each one of
us is under only the law of his own conscience, and that none
of us can judge or criticize the other for our practices in
these areas where "we have liberty" of conscience and action.
In some cases, Christians may even take the case of the Corinthians
who "had knowledge" as an example that Christians who think
they know better about doctrine or morality should keep it
to themselves because if they tell what they "know" to those
who don't "know" it, they can wound the consciences of these
ignorant people. And, by making these people feel bad about
doing things that in reality they have complete liberty to
do, those with knowledge cause those without knowledge to
stumble over sin just by the mere act of telling them what
they believe to be true. Therefore, the argument goes, the
knowledgeable should be careful about telling what they "know"
to those who don't "know" it or who's practices don't line
up with this knowledge.
This is a highly dangerous trend in Christianity because it
leads to a truth standard and a moral standard in which the
highest Law is our own conscience and in which no one can
correct each other. This would destroy the accountability
we have to the Word of God and to each other as believers.
Only by an examination of what it means to say we have "liberty
in Christ" can we defuse these harmful false ideas.
By examining the issue of Christian liberty in depth from
start to finish and from cover to cover in the Bible, we have
demonstrated that Christian liberty does not mean that Christians
are without a governing moral law. Nor does it mean our highest
governing authority is our own consciences. And lastly, we
have shown that Christian liberty does not mean sharing our
views about right and wrong will cause others to sin by making
them feel guilty about things that they are really at liberty
to do in the first place.
Instead, as our study has shown, the New Testament phrase,
"liberty in Christ" always and only referred the following
With regard to the first aspect of our threefold conclusion,
we have shown that Paul's use of the phrase "liberty in Christ"
in Galatians 2, where some visiting Christians from Jerusalem
tried to enslave the Galatians to Jewish dietary Laws, referred
to our "liberty FROM" the Law of Moses. However, we have also
shown from a whole host of New Testament passages that despite
this freedom from the Law of Moses, the New Testament authors
considered the 10 Commandments to still be binding on Christians
because the 10 Commandments were included in the Law of Christ,
which is also referred to in James 1:25 and 2:12 as the "Law
of Liberty. " (Acts 15:5-6,19-20,23,29 and 21:25, Ephesians
6:1-3, 1 Corinthians 5:10-11 and 6:9, 1 Corinthians 10:7,14,
Ephesians 5:5, Galatians 5:19, Romans 13:9, Revelation 21:8
and 22:15, Ephesians 4:28, 2 Peter 2:4, and James 2:7 as well
as Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:29-31, and Luke 10:27.)
In this way we established that the first of three aspects
of our "liberty in Christ" is that we are free FROM all of
the Law of Moses except 9 out of the 10 Commandments (since
according to Romans 14 Christians are no longer obligated
to keep the Sabbath days.)
With regard to the second aspect of this threefold conclusion,
we have shown that Paul's use of the phrases "liberty in Christ"
(Galatians 2:4), "Law of the Spirit" (Romans 8:2), and "Law
of Christ" (Galatians 6:2) are all synonymous with James use
of the phrases "Law of Liberty" (James 1:25, 2:12) and "royal
Law" (James 2:8.) Thus, when Paul writes in Romans 8:2 that
"the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me
free from the law of sin and death," Paul is demonstrating
the "liberty in Christ" means we are free FROM the legally
prescribed punishment of death. In this way we established
the second aspect of our threefold conclusion regarding our
"liberty in Christ."
With regard to the third aspect of this threefold conclusion,
we saw from Romans 6:14-20 that our "liberty in Christ" not
only makes us free FROM the Law of Moses (except for the 10
Commandments) and free FROM the legally prescribed punishment
of death, but it also makes us free FROM the sinful nature
and free TO live obediently and righteously.
Lastly, as we noted in summary when we began this exploration
of our threefold conclusion regarding our "liberty in Christ,"
we can clearly see after all this investigation that NEVER,
NOT ONCE is the phrase "liberty in Christ" ever used in the
New Testament to refer to a specific liberty to do a specific
act. And even more to the point, the New Testament authors
NEVER used the phrase "liberty in Christ" to refer to a freedom
to perform a specific act that was previously considered sinful
under the Old Testament. As such, Paul's use of the Greek
word eleutheria for "liberty" in 1 Corinthians 10:29, does
not mean a "specific liberty to eat sacrificed meat" was being
judged, but rather that by eating sacrificed meat, Christians
were giving other people the opportunity to judge, condemn,
and reject our liberty in Christ in general.
And lastly, being free from the bondage of the Mosaic Law,
from the bondage of death, from the bondage to the sinful
nature, and from the bondage of our former pagan ways did
not mean we were free from any law whatsoever or that "all
things were lawful" and permissible for Christians. For we
were only free from these bondages if we obeyed what Paul
calls the Law of the Spirit (Romans 8:2), the Law of Christ
(Galatians 6:2), and what James calls the royal Law and the
perfect Law of Liberty (James 1:25, 2:8,12.) Therefore, rather
than meaning "all things are lawful," Christian liberty means
that we must obey the two commandments of the Law of Christ.
The very fact that there is a Law of Christ, which has two
commands means that there are things we can do, which are
unlawful. Therefore, while the phrase "all things are lawful"
does refer to our liberty from the Law of Moses, it does not
convey that we have no law over us. For in fact we do have
a Law over us that makes some things unlawful for us. That
Law that now governs Christians is the known by the synonymous
phrases "liberty in Christ," "Law of Christ," "Law of the
Spirit," "royal Law," and the "Law of Liberty."