Practical Holiness: Christian Liberty

by Joanna Pierce on September 06, 2018

The Call to Liberty

As born-again Christians, we have been called unto liberty (freedom) (Galatians 5:13). However, sometimes people use this freedom to throw out God’s moral law in an attempt to eliminate the misapplication of the whole law by mankind. We must remember God still has a right and wrong defined in His Word whether or not man understands (or applies) this correctly.

What is Christian Liberty?

Christian liberty is freedom from sin. Before our conversion—repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus, and infilling of the Holy Ghost—we were at the mercy of our sinful nature. Now, in our daily life of walking in the Spirit, the Holy Ghost helps us live above sin. Therefore, we have a daily choice whether we sin or abstain from sin. If we abuse our Christian liberty and choose to live in sin, we can lose our true liberty (freedom) in Jesus Christ.

How so? We were slaves to sin before Jesus Christ saved us. After the cross, Jesus made us free to be slaves (servants) to God instead. He’s given us the privilege to live and walk in the way of righteousness and have this liberty (Romans 6:14–23). Our liberty is shaped in submission; freedom and submission work hand-in-hand. Because of this paradigm, to be free from sin automatically means submission to the will of  God. We’re either submitted to God or submitted to the flesh and the devil. If we refuse God’s law, we reject Him and serve Satan instead. Since we will serve something, it may as well be God!

Freedom from the Law

The law provides various freedoms for the Christian in their daily walk. We are free from the:

Penalty of the Law

The Old Testament law had no margin. Any trespass had an equal punishment: eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth. Jesus redeemed us from the curse of the law with His precious blood. When He paid the ultimate price with His death on the cross, He diminished all power the law had to condemn us (Galatians 3:13).

Obligation to Fulfill the Law by Human Effort Alone

We need God’s grace to counteract the sin and the Gospel of Christ to deliver us from sin. Mankind can never fulfill the law alone by his own deeds. Scripture teaches us that man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law (Romans 3:28). It’s only through the Holy Ghost working in and through us that we can fulfill all the righteousness the law demands. It’s God’s Spirit doing the work, not our flesh! We’ve received the moral law in our hearts through God’s Spirit, and this empowers and drives us to walk a righteous life: abiding in the law, through God’s holiness.

Destructive Power of the Law that Arises from Men’s Abuse

The religious sects of the day (particularly the Pharisees) distorted God’s original purpose for giving the law. The law was good—as it came from God! But, it eventually became a harmful force in the lives of the people because religious leaders tried to make it provide salvation, which it couldn’t do. When Jesus came on the scene, because of their misinterpretation of the law, they missed who Jesus was and rejected true salvation. But, we’re not destroyed today because we’re under the power and protection of Jesus Christ. His Spirit now enables us to fulfill what the law demands; we can serve in the Spirit what we couldn’t do in the flesh.

Ceremonial Law

There is a difference between the ceremonial and moral law of God. Moral laws are timeless: God hasn’t changed His mind about them regardless of the time or culture (e.g., lying). But, there are parts of God’s law that are ceremonial in nature. Jesus segmented ceremonial law with moral law when He taught that what comes out of us (not goes in) defiles a man (Mark 7:18). Jesus was referring to ceremonial law in this instance. He noted the religious leaders didn’t understand the law (or it’s purpose) from this example. Why did God institute ceremonial law? God used ceremonial law as types and shadows of what was to come—they all pointed to Jesus Christ, as everything would be fulfilled in Him.

Guidelines of Christian Liberty

Christians have liberty to take action in non-moral matters: we’re free to participate in any activity or practice that does not violate Biblical morality. We can follow individual judgment where the Bible does not have specific direction, as long as it aligns with the convictions of the Holy Ghost as it leads us in our individual spiritual pursuits. But, in saying this, there are still guidelines to follow! Living for God is not about every man for (or about) himself.

Paul taught the church in Romans 14 about how to handle non-moral principles. We must not judge others and avoid controversies over issues that are not morally backed (Romans 14:1–4). Every man should have his own convictions and should follow them (I Corinthians 6:12Romans 14:5). Even if others don’t have the same convictions, we should still follow what God has called us to do. Whatever a person does, it should be done as unto the Lord (Romans 14;8). Our actions should be done in Jesus’ name and He should receive the glory for them (Colossians 3:17). Lastly, anything we do in our liberty should not be a stumbling block to another believer (Romans 14:14). If what we do causes a problem for another, we should stop! If we wound our brother’s conscience, we sin against Christ. Regardless, rather than judging others, we should judge ourselves.

What Liberty Isn’t

Christian liberty isn’t a license to disobey God (Jude 1:4). We have the freedom to submit to truth and not use our freedom to gratify the flesh! As in any aspect of God’s law, we need to have submission to Godly authority for liberty to function properly in the church (Hebrews 13:17). When we don’t have specific dictations in God’s Word, we call upon leaders to implement general principles that are guided by God’s Word. We cannot walk in disorderly conduct and do what’s right in our own eyes. God is not the author of confusion, especially when it comes to Christian liberty. We need a moderate, conservative stance that helps us align our lives with Scripture. Remember, God has given the church the ability to guide and govern in its present culture. The church will have success in this present hour.

The Next Step

We’ve covered basic guidelines to follow when determining our actions around Christian liberty. To make sure we’re in alignment with these guidelines, we can ask ourselves the following questions when partaking in activities that are morally neutral or seemingly innocent: 1) Can we glorify God in our activity? 2) Is our activity detrimental physically, mentally, or spiritually? 3) Can the activity gain control over us in any way? 4) Is our activity a stumbling block to a believer or unbeliever? Let’s have the freedom to submit to the Word of God and live in the right confines of Christian liberty.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on September 5, 2018 with Pastor Nave