Home Church Community

Statement of Beliefs

Contact Us

Search Our Site

Bible Study Resource

Printer Friendly Version

Particulars of Christianity:
305 Liberty in Christ

Summary and Practical Applications

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 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 three things.

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."