Psalm 119:45 And I will walk at liberty, For I seek Your precepts. (NKJV)
When you are looking at a decision that falls within the realm of your Christian liberty, it is helpful to have some established (in your own mind) guidelines. These guidelines allow you to evaluate whether this particular liberty is God’s will FOR YOU, or His “best” for you. It doesn’t necessarily mean “don’t do it” if you can’t answer these questions affirmitavely, but it does give you an objective way to evaluate the liberty at hand. Let’s look at a few questions to ask when exercising liberty:
- Does is edify everyone involved?
1 Corinthians 10:23-24 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. (NKJV)
Besides myself, is everyone who may be touched or influenced by my exercise of this liberty edified in their Christian walk? Does this liberty fit the Biblical standard that all things should be done with the goal of edifying the Body of Christ (2Cor 12:19; Eph 4:29)?
- Am I imitating Christ in what I want to do?
1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (NKJV)
Mature Christians are to imitate Christ so that others may learn to be more Christ-like by imitating you. Is this liberty contrary to Christ’s example or attributes? Will those who follow my example become more like Christ or less if they mimic my exercise of the particular liberty I’m considering?
- Does the exercise of this liberty exalt God and honor Jesus?
1 Corinthians 10:31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. (NKJV)
When I act on this liberty, is God honored? Is the Lord exalted? Is the reputation and image of genuine Christianity sustained? Is the glory of God revealed and spread through this liberty?
- Will taking this liberty harm or inhibit my Christian witness?
Colossians 4:5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. (NKJV)
For those unbelievers who are watching, will the exercise of this liberty draw them closer to God? Or will it turn their mind away from Him towards yet another worldly or fleshly pursuit? Does this liberty in any way make me hypocritical or wishy-washy about my faith or standard of holy living?
- Is this liberty excessive?
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (NKJV)
Does this liberty “slow me down” in my effort to become more like Christ? Will it be a distraction in the work I do for the Lord? Will it be yet another worldly care and concern that will rob me of time and emotional resources? Is there a good chance it might ensnare us and lead us into something that is unquestionably sinful or hindering to our Christian walk?
- What kind of example is this setting for weaker or new Christians, my family and those who look to me?
Romans 14:21 It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak. (NKJV)
Will those weaker Christians who see my example be made stumble? Will those who are influence, mentored or taught by me be made weaker in their faith because of my choices? If I choose to engage in this liberty, am I ignoring the spiritual needs and hang-ups of newer or less mature Christians and simply not care what effect it has on them? Is my liberty in this area more important than being compassionate about their weakness?
- Does it help my life, hinder or hurt it?
1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (NKJV)
Even though there is no moral, fleshly or Godly reason to avoid this liberty, overall does this liberty help my walk with Christ? Is it expediant with my goal to become more like Christ? Is it something that improves me overall as a Christian?
Of course we could name a dozen other principles to consider but this is a good start. Don’t turn this list into some sort of legalistic checklist. They are guiding principles and considerations to help you evaluate “the best” God would have for you. The “liberty” you are considering does not become sin just because it doesn’t measure up to questions like these. It just may be that this liberty is not the very best, or the highest standard; or, there may not be any way to actually know the answer to these questions for every situation. Sometimes, the liberty you are considering may simply not be substantial enough to even warrant taking so much time evaluating it.
In matters of true liberty, you only have to answer to God, not other people, not a church organization, not somebody’s checklist. One one hand this is very liberating, on the other, the responsibility and standard is much higher because you can’t play games with God, you can’t fool Him and you can’t successfully hide fleshly motivations. God knows what is really going on down in your heart when you exercise your liberty and that is MUCH more serious that some arbitrary compliance (sincere or not) to some manmade checklist.
Christian liberty is not “I’m free to live how I want”.
It is “I’m free to live however God truly leads me.”
When it comes to matters of liberty, God judges the motivation of your heart. The execution of the activity is merely a by-product of what is in your heart. Christian liberty is not “I’m free to live how I want, stay out of my business”. It is “I’m free to live however God truly leads me.” That is REAL liberty.
Tomorrow we’ll look at what Paul says about how we are to exercise our liberty.
Lord God, Help us to know about the true liberty found in Christ. Help us to know how to enjoy it, how to let others enjoy it, and to know the difference between liberty and essentials. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: Liberty in Christ is one of the greatest blessings God has provided. It frees us from the bondage of religion and men, it frees us from fear, it allows us to enjoy a life of freedom in Christ. It is not a license to sin or abuse other’s liberty. In order to enjoy our freedom and allow others to enjoy theirs, we must learn what Christian liberty is from Scripture and how to properly exercise it.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?