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Particulars of Christianity:
305 Liberty in Christ

Liberty in Christ: Introduction

Liberty in Christ: Extended Introduction
Liberty in Christ: Introduction

Definitions and New Testament Survey
Synonyms for Liberty in Christ
Liberty and Death
Liberty, the Law, and the 10 Commandments
Origin of the Law of Liberty
Liberty and Yet Prohibition
Incorporating Pagan Practices in the Old Testament
"Christianizing" Pagan Practices
What is Observing Times?
Liberty, Bondage, and Righteousness
Liberty and Meat Sacrificed to Idols
Liberty and 1 Corinthians 8
Liberty, 1 Corinthians 10, and Idolatry
Liberty, 1 Corinthians 10, and Your Neighbor
Summary and Practical Applications
Addendum: Romans 14, the Conscience, and Morality

What does it Mean to have Liberty in Christ?

Have you ever heard a Christian pastor or layperson use the phrase "our liberty in Christ" or "Christian liberty?" Well, maybe you have and maybe you haven't, but in this study, we will be turning our attention to the New Testament passages that form the basis for such phrases and to what those New Testament passages are referring.

In Galatians 2:4, Paul speaks of "false brethren" that have come in to "spy out" the "liberty [Christians] have in Christ" so that they can "bring us into bondage" again. Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 10:29, Paul writes, "why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?" In today's nonjudgmental culture, this question of Paul's is often taken as a prohibition of judgment. Inherent in such an interpretation of 1 Corinthians 10:29 is the notion that by the word "liberty" or the phrase "liberty in Christ" Paul is implying a wide-ranging freedom of action in which things that had in the past been prohibited as sinful were now permissible "in Christ."

In fact, many Christians have heard and studied these matters so little that such phrases as "Christian liberty" and "liberty in Christ" have taken on the familiar connotation that "in Christ" things that we were formerly sinful are now quite allowable. While there are certainly aspects of the Mosaic Law that are no longer binding on Christians now that the New Covenant has replaced the Old Covenant, does this mean that nothing is off limits for us "in Christ?"

At first this might seem like a very "extreme" suggestion. Most Christians seem to understand almost instinctively that God still forbids us to engage in sinful behavior. However, that's really putting the cart before the horse. The real issue is not "should we sin?" For we might all agree easily enough that we should not. The real question is "what is sinful?" Until we understand what freedom this "liberty in Christ" brought to Christians, we won't know what is still considered sinful and off limits in New Testament standards.

And there is perhaps no greater Biblical illustration of this than with regard to the issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols. Under the Mosaic Law, this practice was most certainly considered idolatry. But did Paul teach it was now acceptable to Christians because of our "liberty in Christ?" Although the issue of eating sacrificed meat seems too far removed from modern settings to be relevant, "eating meat sacrificed to idols" can quickly become a prototype for how to address to what extent Christians are "at liberty" in Christ.